I've had a month to play with the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet. Microsoft faces a serious challenge to compete against devices like the Apple iPad, Google Nexus 10, Kindle Fire HD 8.9, and other full-size tablets. But, Microsoft deserves some kudos for engineering a very solid, capable device to show off the Windows RT platform.
When I box the Surface RT tablet up and send it back to Microsoft, I'll just go back to using my trusty iPad. But, there are a number of features of the Surface RT that I will miss.
Microsoft has made a big (huge) deal out of the kickstand on the Surface tablet since its original unveiling earlier this year--and for good reason. Microsoft's purpose in spotlighting the feature was primarily to point out the attention to detail invested in engineering the device, and the quality of construction of the Surface RT, but it is more than that.
The kickstand allows you to prop the Surface RT up in either portrait or landscape mode. In landscape mode, the kickstand puts the Surface RT at an ideal angle for use as an ultrabook replacement (when used with a physical keyboard--see point #2), or for viewing streaming content like Netflix or TEDTalks.
Personally, I think the angle of the Surface with the kickstand in place is ideal, but one issue some people might have with the Surface RT kickstand is that it only has two positions--open or closed. If the angle doesn't work for you, you're sort of out of luck.
2. Touch Cover
The Touch Cover for the Surface RT is possibly one of the most innovative and useful gadgets of 2012. Sure, my iPad has a thin Smart Cover that "magically" attached via magnets, and automatically brings the tablet to life when I open it, but Microsoft has taken the concept to another level.
In a cover that isn't much thicker than Apple's Smart Cover, Microsoft has packed a touch-sensitive physical keyboard, complete with a trackpad, and special buttons for quick access to Windows RT features like the Share, Search, Devices, and Settings Charms.
Another advantage for the Surface RT Touch Cover is that the magnetic bond seems stronger. Holding an iPad by its Smart Cover is likely to result in the iPad detaching and crashing to its potential demise. It takes much more force to detach the Touch Cover from a Surface RT.
It's not all sunshine and roses, though. Some users complain that the Touch Cover requires a hard surface under it--that it's too flimsy to use while sitting on your lap--and there some reports of the edges of the cover splitting or fraying. I didn't have any issues or problems with the Touch Cover, but the Type Cover does offer a firmer typing surface, and actual keys for those who prefer a more traditional typing experience.
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