Microsoft Surface Review Follow-up: Questions Answered

A few days ago we ran our review on the Microsoft Surface and found the tablet to be an impressive, feature rich device.  The review generated a healthy number of comments, many of which had questions from our readers.  Questions ranged from customization curiosities to how well the Surface handled games.

In this follow up post, we hope to shed some more light on the Surface and answer many of our reader's questions.

Microsoft Surface Start Screen options

First up, aeronaught asks,

Hey I was wondering if you can change the background on the home screen (the picture behind the tiles) to anything you want? I've been wondering that for a while now. Every pic I've seen only has the basic colors with a slight design on it.

While you can add your own images for the lock screen, the background image for the Start Screen is limited to a series of pre-loaded patterns from Microsoft. You can still customize your desktop wallpapers. Just tap and hold the screen while in the desktop (basically the equivalent to a right mouse click) and choose the personalize option.

I don't think the inability to use a custom wallpaper on the Start Screen is a loss.  The Start Screen focus is with the tiles (Live and non) that a custom picture for the wallpaper would probably get lost.  The Lock Screen is the best place to highlight your photos and other custom artwork.

There were a number of curiosities on the on-screen keyboard. FuzzyLogician commented,

I wish you had stated more about the on-screen keyboard? It deserves more attention than one sentence. How well does it really work? How well does the on-screen split (thumb focused) keyboard work? How well does it work in portrait mode vs. horizontal mode? How well does it function in the desktop environment vs. metro?

As we mentioned in the review, the on-screen keyboard performs as nice, if not slightly better, than any other on-screen keyboard. Obviously, it works best in landscape orientation because you get more elbow room with the keys.

The neat thing about the on-screen keyboard is the options you have. There is the standard keyboard style, the thumb style that divides the keys in half and places them to the corners of the screen, and the writing pad entry (for the lack of a better term) where you write the words to be transcribed to the document. Each keyboard style has tap keys and a numeric keypad.  The writing pad is not available with every application and has its own help key to illustrate some of the editing shortcuts.

I'm not too keen on the thumb style and the downside to the writing pad entry is that it takes a few seconds for the Surface to interpret what you write. It's a neat option just slow.

It's not always practical to use the TouchCover keyboard and I have no reservations about pulling up the on-screen keyboard.  All three options (full, thumbs, writing pad) perform effectively and which is best is really a subjective measure.

Surface Word Templates

With regards to responsiveness of apps, dreamerbala asks,

Good review. Can you also shed some light on how responsive the Desktop apps are ? i.e., Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I saw a YouTube video where they were laggy as hell.

I didn't experience any lagginess in using any of the Office apps. I was able to pull up existing documents with no problem and creating new docs went well too.  There was a slight pause when you first open one of the Office apps when you transition from your Start Screen to the Desktop environment but nothing to pull you hair out over.

You will also experience a slight delay when opening Word and PowerPoint while the apps load a decent selection of templates.  But again, these delays weren't long or anything to drive you nuts over.

Fruit Ninja on the Microsoft Surface

With respect to the Surface's gaming capabilities, TheDutchGuy commented,

Nice review, but having just read the rather negative review at eurogamer I'm rather concerned about the gaming performance of the surface. Any information on how well games perform on the surface.

In playing several games that have been carried over from the Windows Phone platform, I found the Surface to be a very capable gaming device.  Fruit Ninja was a little slow to load but once loaded, ran smoothly. Playing it on the Surface's larger screen was really fun and takes the game to a new level.

Wordament loaded smoothly and nice to have a little elbow room in creating the words. Radiant also ran smooth as did Angry Birds Space. All in all, gaming performance with the Surface was similar to what you would find on the Windows Phone but with a larger screen.  I can see the Surface taking gaming a bit further than what we've experienced on our Windows Phones due to the larger screen.  Developers will have more real estate for on-screen controls and more detailed graphics.  

The Surface may not rise to the level of your Xbox Console but it will do nicely for gaming within its own right.

Microsoft Surface

Lastly, finding remo21 asked,

You stated it won't be replacing your laptop. Mind elaborating on why not?

While I see the Surface being a very capable device for work and play, a laptop still has more capabilities. From a larger screen size that comes in handy for everything from multi-tasking to photo editing to larger storage and connectivity options.I have a disk drive for movies, multiple USB ports and a larger hard drive.

I find the Surface handy to surf the web, check my email, send emails, work on Word Documents, review documents, play games and other odds and ends.  But I also do a lot of photography work and for that, my laptop is the device of choice.  Mainly for the larger screen and programs that aren't yet available for the Surface.

Consider it this way, at one point our desktop computers were the work horses whilt the laptop was the option for portability. Where the laptops have evolved to where they are just as capable as most desktops, I can see the Surface sliding into the ultra-portable option.  Capable within its own right but still not as much muster as its big brother.

The more I use the Microsoft Surface, the more it grows on me.  It's a feature rich, dare I say fun device to use.  We'll have more on the Surface with reviews on apps and games as well as a few tips and tricks on down the road.  It will be interesting to see how the Surface Pro compares once it becomes available.

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

  • My country font have this , sigh...
  • For photo editing on Surface try pinning to your start screen. It's not PhotoShop but it's pretty good
  • The surface is exactly what's its been built for...serious competition to the iPad...and I think it succeeds from what I've seen...I just wish I had a use for a tablet... my laptop rocking windows 8 64 does everything I need, and for the fun stuff? Well..thats why I have a windows phone ;)
  • I have a surface, and I thought the same thing. I like it, but it will be a third device behind my laptop and phone, relegated to watching movies and occasional games.
  • I'm rockin' W8 x64 on my 17" HP Envy and a Lumia 900 as well... Honestly, I'm never going back to W7, it looks outdated.
  • After I get my Nokia 920, then I'll grab the 32gig surface. Very exciting year for me!!!
  • I believe that the writing entry is mainly aimed at stylus users with real TabletPCs (active digitizers). It works wonderfully. On Windows 8, they really watered it down, used to be full of options, like allowing it to translate your hand writing much quicker than the default, etc. TabletPC users have complained, but Microsoft just did its usual and ignored them and gave them something that works, but not great, kinda like WP7.8. If anything the TabletPC experience actually got worse because of this (writing field used to expand automatically and wasn't limited to two lines, you had the ability to control when it would translate, either by distance of pen cursor or time, change the line width, etc)...
  • You can't complain about 7.8, its not even out yet or officially had features announced/locked in yet!
  • I've been using Tablet PC's for a few years also. It is so great. Had MS and OEMs had pushed them harder I think we would not have ipads/RTs today. My Toshiba Portege M780 (?) is a full laptop with all the ports and DVD drive, plus a tablet. It's not thin or light, but as a man that does not matter to me. Being able to write notes in meetings and have them transcribed later does matter. Drawing quick network diagrams instead of spending hours in Visio is killer. Much like my Quantum, I will keep this bad-boy on life support as long as I can.
  • Why do you always have something sexist to say?
  • I upgraded my TabletPC to Windows 8. I love both, but I'm disappointed that they reduced the functionality of the stylus. I can't even use it to pan any more, and there's no way to go forward or back in the calendar with the stylus-only with mouse or touch. That's the single most frustrating thing.
  • If Surface gaming is similar to what we have on Windows Phone, I'm not getting a Surface. As much as I love WP, gaming has not been it's strong suit.
  • That's where windows phone 8 comes in. :-)
  • +1
  • Gaming on the surface will be better than wp7.x as windows rt supports proper game engines (unity and the like) we'll see more AAA titles on it, and the tegra3 soc is plenty capable of running them. While I wish the surface had the S4 pro soc, NVIDIA has been pretty good about pushing the gaming front on android devices that run their hardware with the tegra zone, and they've stated they will be bringing tegrazone to windows 8/rt.
  • As a professional game programmer, I would have greatly preferred a next-gen XNA over Unity, but I guess there are a lot of lazy or non-programmer devs out there who enjoy the limited ability to do interesting things in Unity. :(
  • ZX9, Windows Phone 8, and Windows 8 (RT and Pro) have a new API called WinRT (yes, confusion)
    But what is means, is that developes can code natively in C++/CX to this new API.
    But in laymans terms, that means games engines like UNITY can (and have) been ported to Windows and Windows Phone. Expect Windows Phone and Windows to have an amazing Game portfolio very soon.
  • There are actually four keyboard layouts available. If you go into 'PC Settings -> General -> Touch Keyboard -> Make the standard layout available' it gives you a full virtual keyboard complete with F1-F12. I find it diffucult to use as the main keyboard though.
  • yeah, a lot of people miss this. it also has the numbers there above the letters which is nice. as mentioned its not as smooth as the standard one but it's great to have and once you've enabled it switching between it and the other three layouts is a breeze.
  • Which languages are supported in keyboard layouts?
  • I just looked in the language settings and it looks like all languages that regular Windows supports, RT supports.
  • I like your stance on the Surface.  I'm normally a huge Thurott fan, but he seems to have gone off his rocker a bit lately... almost seeming determined to sink the Surface for no real reason.  Yes, we know it's not a laptop replacement.  It's an iPad plus a cool keyboard and some great Office apps.  Why is that so wrong?  He verges on calling the thing pointless.  Very strange.
    Equally strange is his insistance that the 8x is no question no holds barred the best smartphone on Earth.  This seems to be entirely based on his like of the tapered edges (which I like as well), but ignores all the superior features of the Lumia 920 and the lower price on that device as well.
    It's too bad... I ahve always viewed Paul as a source of unbiased reviews, but lately he seems to be reviewing products based soley on what he wants (a tablet that is perfect and replaces a laptop in every way and a svelte phone) rather than looking at the full picture and seeing the benefits that others may see in them.
    I love my Surface... it's just so cool, and the inteface is sooooo much more enjoyable than an iPad.  It has all the apps I need right now, and those things it doesn't that wopuld be nice will come soon enough.  It's exactly what I wanted.
  • Well said :)
  • This
  • Agree 100%! Dunno why PT would think it would be a full laptop replacement anyway, that is surely the Pro's job! RT is half the price! I only got mine yesterday and am completely smitten, it is just what I wanted.
  • I'm hoping my Surface RT will replace my laptop! It works for office I can tell you that!
  • Hey, I've been thinking that in the back of my mind as well. Thanks for putting it into words, glad I'm not the only one who noticed!
  • I agree, I made a similar point in a different post. He's just being a child, and pissed because Microsoft doesn't treat him special anymore. He didn't get the Surface for review, he wasn't asked to test Windows Phone 8 early like he was with WP7. So now he's angry at Microsoft, hence, his recent ridiculous reviews and statements.
  • I agree with most of what you said, but I see Paul as the only hope for Microsoft in the 2.0 media realm. Everyone else is an Apple shill and at least he acknowledges Microsoft's efforts, and I honestly believe his criticisms stem from his desire for Microsoft to do great, not just well. I can't fault him for that.
  • Goes to show that many people still don't "get" what the Surface is.  You can buy a Surface, connect it to your wireless, and be immediately productive--no piecing together mini-applications to try to get something done.
    The last part of this article where they say it's not a laptop replacement is right on. It's more of a super-tablet. It almost deserves it's on product category, it's that different.
    Anyone who doesn't understand this needs to go to a Microsoft Store and get a demo of the Surface and play with it for a while.  It's hard to understand without experiencing it.
  • Goes to show that many people still don't "get" what the Surface is.  You can buy a Surface, connect it to your wireless, and be immediately productive--no piecing together mini-applications to try to get something done.
    The last part of this article where they say it's not a laptop replacement is right on. It's more of a super-tablet. It almost deserves it's on product category, it's that different.
    Anyone who doesn't understand this needs to go to a Microsoft Store and get a demo of the Surface and play with it for a while.  It's hard to understand without experiencing it.  I have the 32GB with touch cover.
  • I think a lot of people would look at non-Windows tablets and go like "that's a bigger smartphone", but when you look at a Windows tablet, you know that it's not just an enlarged smartphone and that you can actually get things done with this machine.
  • I totally agree with this.  I noticed the exact same things about Thurrot recently.  Very strange.
  • I couldn't agree more. I've only recently discovered Paul's site and added him to my RSS feeds. He has been pretty harsh on the Surface, specifically RT. To me, it is everything I wanted in a tablet. No more Android for me (Lumia 920 preordered too.) Sure, it would be nice to fire up a few of my favorite Windows games on it but I have hgh hopes we will see a community of developers for it.
  • Paul Thurrott is not the only one enamored with the 8x.  While the low light capability of the 920 is awesome it is bigger and heavier and for those of you dismissing that for average people you're missing the point.  For most people the pictures they're going to take are snapshots of their kids in good light or snapshots of scenery and for that the f2.0/BSI/Imagechip sensor on the 8X (same sensor as the well reviewed HTC One X) does an oustanding job of taking pictures and that's all most people need.  The other thing is the 8X will outsell the 920 because it is available EVERYWHERE and the 920 is ATT only in the US (not sure about international markets).  This is the first premium phone on Verizon for WP8 and for all those people waiting for Verizon to have a great WP8 THIS IS THE PHONE.
    As for Surface, if Microsoft had released a Windows 8 Clover Trail/Atom version of the surface it would be a huge hit - no compromises, full Windows 8 convertible tablet with same/similar battery life to the ARM version with none of the compromises/issues we see on the first version of Surface RT.  Microsoft isn't releasing the Clover Trail version of Surface because it would put the RT version to shame.  I believe this is a HUGE mistake on Microsofts part and I believe the RT will be marginilized by the Clover Trail versions (and especially the 22 nm Haswell follow up from Intel in the spring).  If Microsoft had released a Windows 8 (not Pro) version of the Surface I would have one now.  
  • Does anyone know how to change the numberpad layout in the software keyboard so that it matches traditional number pads where they ascend from 1-9 going from bottom to top instead of descending 9-1 going form bottom to top of the KB? So far I haven't found a way to change it.
  • If you go into the PC Settings, select the General option on the left. Under Touch keyboard on the right turn the bottom option (Make the standard keyboards layout available) to On. When you next bring up the on screen keyboard select the little keyboard icon in the bottom right the standard layout should be the second from the right. Hope this is what you are after and my instructions make sense!
  • Good review. Can't wait for the surface pro and 920. Speaking of the 920, when is this review going to happen???? And I keep debating, should I get the white or yellow.
  • My stance on Surface RT is simple... if you want to play first and get a bit of work done on the side, RT is your safe, friendly way to do that. If you want to do more work or have a laptop replacement, hold out for Surface Pro.
    I love my Surface RT. It does everything I expect it to do, and it does them well. My few grievances (and they are few) can all be addressed through software updates and apps. I can do about 85% of my work on here instead of lugging around a laptop. Ironically, having access to the Windows command-line telnet client would get me 98% of my work done... that and a VMware management app.
    Anyway, I would recommend a Surface to anyone who doesn't have mission-critical desktop apps... otherwise, hold out for Pro. Easy peasy. The hardware is a no-brainer... this thing has the power and durability of a tank and the beauty of a sexy sports car.
  • You nailed it! +1
  • I found that I spent most of my time using apps on my Titan as opposed to actually using it to talk to anybody! I mainly used it to surf the web, read news, browse maps, buy items on eBay, view videos, as well as using instant messaging and to put together the occasional invoice using PowerPoint and OneNote. For this kind of casual use the Surface works wonders. Windows RT works well as a tablet OS (takes a bit of getting used to) but once you get used to the two different environments (Metro and the windows desktop) it becomes a very fluid experience. I think it sits comfortably between a smart phone and a more robust laptop or desktop computer.
  • For those of you wanting to know the full potential for gaming on a Windows RT device with a Tegra 3 chipset hit up the link and you will see what we can expect -
    Just to add to the gaming side of things. It is worth noting that Nvidia plans to bring their Android THD (Tegra HD) games to Tegra powered Windows RT devices. Check to see the sort of games we can expect. Exciting stuff for mobile gamers and Windows.
  • I just wanted to add a few things to this post review, review. I agree with just about everything written. The surface works really well, I’m actually typing this right now sitting at the edge of my bed using the type cover on my lap. And while it isn't the most comfortable way to type, it works really well and I find myself typing this way a lot. This is a real keyboard with all the real keyboard shortcuts. Maybe my hopes were so low that just making this useable would have impressed me, all I know is I like typing on this machine.
    I really thought I would try out the Surface and then give it to my mom for Christmas, then go out and buy the Asus Tachi or maybe the Surface Pro. And while that's still a possibility, it's increasingly becoming a smaller one. Now everything isn't all roses. I have found some issues. Here's something that has me confused. I like to watch the TWIT Network. For the life of me I can’t get it to play. I've seen it play on another Surface but mine just won’t do it. Also, yes, there is some slow down when a lot of apps and browser tabs are open which can then lead to some erratic software behavior. Also would like the placement of the mouse curser to work better with touch. I find myself wanting to edit a letter in a word but can't get the curser where I need it.
    But here’s some great things. Multitasking is a dream. Being able to have two apps (and in certain situations three) is amazing, and switching between them feels great. The screen is beautiful. Everyone who has seen my Surface has been wowed by it. Even had a police officer refuse to play with it because he had his mine set on a iPad and didn’t want to be swayed (I live in NYC where Sandy just came through, so I spent a lot of time with the police and without power so the Surface was my getaway of sorts). The battery life is great, dies in about a day and a half for me. 
    While this may not be a laptop replacement, or even an outright tablet (just because I find it better used with the keyboard), the little guy impresses. I really thought I would need something with more power and able to use desktop apps but it has me rethinking everything. Maybe it's because my last mac book pro broke and I've been without a lap top for two years (only my built from scratch desktop) but I really keen on the Surface.
  • For video, if that site uses Flash you may need to tweak the whitelist. There was a post somewhere out on the web that discusses how to tweak the whitelist for apps that are allowed to use Flash in the browser. It's got a good amount of default sites, but you can add some new sites and that may allow TWIT to work for you.
  • On my Surface RT, I'm having a lot of music playback stutters when I'm multitasking.  I also see frequent downloaded tracks tagged as "unsupported file format" but then start backup without a problem (although possibly the stutters).
    outside of this, I'm really enjoying my surface. 
    Are you having music playback problems?
  • I have a different question though, in all ads when the touch cover is connected the background color changes. But my black touch cover does not make the screen go black (the background) any body confirm this who has a colored touch cover.
    Plus the one thing that annoys me is the shuttering of songs when played from Xbox music (streaming) when the tablet is idle and screen off. Does everyone have this issue.
  • You have to manually change your background color to match, but I don't see a black or white option. I also get the music skip issue while listening to podcasts using PushPod.
  • Sorry. Off topic but could not contain myself. Downloading windows 8 pro! :-D
  • So is this site going to start covering Windows tablets too? WinCentral anyone? ;)
  • I can't wait for the Pro version to arrive. My fingers are ruined because of my work as an illustrator, so I can't really use a real computer at home anymore. That's why I bought a Windows Phone, to be able to at least answer emails without hurting too much. But with the Pro, I will finally have a tablet able to run my photography softwares like Adobe Lightroom using a touchscreen!! I've been waiting for that for a looooong time! I could also just buy a touchscreen for my PC, but for now there aren't enough of those so they don't come cheap. The best option for me right now is a Dell and still costs 700$ for only 23 inch...
  • Noticed during the Win8 presentation that they used a laptop's touchpad to bring up the charms menu, scroll, select, etc. I have been looking at a Logitech touchpad ( ) to use with my desktop that I plan on upgrading to Win8. Being quite a bit cheaper than buying a true multi-touch touchscreen doesn't hurt.
  • Oh, a little off topic question, but does anyone know where you can buy Windows 8, the full version, not the upgrade. I have a PC that a friend built for me, and he installed a "non-official" version of Windows 7, so I can't use it to upgrade to Win8, but everywhere I look all I can find are upgrade versions!
  • As far as I know, you can up grade from unofficial window installs. When you upgrade, you're buying a new license anyway. I believe the point was for Microsoft to make it easy for people not to steal windows. If you still want the full OEM version of windows 8, check newegg.
  • There is no "Full" retail version of Windows 8. But for people who build PCs, you need Windows 8 Pro System Builder. You can order it through Amazon or Newegg.
  • Thanks for answering my question George!
  • I played around with a surface at the ms store yesterday. Here are my thoughts.
    1. Screen. I can't say enough about the 16:9 aspect ratio. It just fills your eyes much more. Going back to my iPad felt like switching from flatscreen tv back to tube. Text reads really well, though marginally less well as retina though much better than iPad 2. photos and video thou are awesome. I thought they were as good as retina.
    2. Keyboard. I did have some trouble getting used t flat keyboard. Maybe I just need time. It was the slowest form of input for me. The other keyboard though, the one that is slightly raised is truly an amazing piece of hardware. I was typing s quickly in that...maybe faster than my home keyboard. My complaint might be the arrow keys...I use arrows a lot when editing docs and xl. Also I loved the handwriting thing. Go in word and just take notes as usual and it did a great Jon even with my sloppy ass handwriting converting it to text. It would be really useful in class or in a meeting. Especially since you can record the lecture while taking notes.
    3. Windows 8. I have read mixed reviews. Personally once I got used to it I loved it. Yo can just do so much mote in windows 8 than on iPad. Even without the apps. Obviously ms office is huge. Bu5 also th multitasking and being able to recorD and take notes and every swipe seemed to offer new and pleasant surprises. There were minor bugs one point my screen wouldn't re orient when I switched from portrait to landscape. Also once the keyboard wasn't recognized when I first used it. I had to pull it off and put it back on. No big deal.... Overall, it's an awesome device. I would buy one right now but am waiting for surface pro. It can help replace your laptop but laptop will still be better for some things. Just as desktop will be better for some things.
  • Mine has completely replaced my laptop, but I do most of my work on a desktop anyway
  • Hey, thanks for answering my question! I can totally understand that it won't be able to do EVERY function of a laptop, especially those more powerful tasks, and thus be a perfect placement. But neither can an iPad or an Android tablet. Those two devices have been placed squarely between smartphones and full PC's (by Apple itself even). So what I would like to know is: does the Surface come closer to replacing a PC than the iPad and Android tablets, does it at least better fill that "gap" between smartphones and PC's???
    Obviously, the iPad has a LOT of capability solely due to its app ecosystem and the Win8/RT have a big challenge ahead in that regard, but I feel that the iPad just doesn't scale well and the UI is just holding things back. I think that Win8/RT and the Surface has a lot of potential and has set great foundations for the future of touch interface. The apps will come (I hope - the fact that they'll run on ALL PC's through Win8 is a HUGE incentive). 
  • I think it definitely comes closer if only for having Office and integrated keyboard cover. But yeah the apps will come over time.
  • App starts are just way too slow on the Surface. For example TuneIn needs about 10 secs to start. On the iPad it's maybe 3 seconds. Same with for example Skype (plus the Skype app is really crappy).
    Unfortunately it seems MS hasn't really learned much from the WP7 flaws.
  • I'm loving the new site layout on my Surface, it almost makes it look like a native app :)
  • I asked this question few times..but could not get any answer.. Surface has USB port .. Can I use data are with it.. For connecting to internet
    .. I don't have access to WiFi at all places
  • Yes you can. It's a full usb 2.0 port
  • But called Microsoft surface support .. We cannot use datacard in USB
    ..but can use a hotspot
  • When oh when are we going to be able to search contact names by Company name? We may not have a persons name for a Company but still need to search for that Company!!!
  • Thank you for doing this follow-up. It's cleared up a few things for me and I'm sure others. I have seen some flat out bad reviews of the surface eg speeding through multitasking making sure there is stutter or totally not  getting to grips with why there is a desktop mode and only showing Cut The Rope to show bad gaming performance.
    i will be ordering my Surface in the next week (UK)
  • One thing to keep in mind regarding the virtual keyboard, that a lot of people miss, is that if you have alternate symbols that you want to use, or something of that sort, you can hold down the letter key to get a list of alternate.  As an example, hold down the ' to have an option that gives you ".  Or hold down ? to get a ! option.  What's neat though about this is that if you remember the position of the alternate symbol or letter, you can just flick in that direction to select it.  So if you flick up from the ' you'll get a " and if you flick up from the ? you'll get a !  It's much faster to do this than switch to the symbols layout.
  • Why would you buy a surface of you have a laptop, desktop and windows phone? Just to say you have it? You stole a space from someone who would use it everyday good work.
  • Surface RT seems to be a nice tablet. I never had Apple made PCs/laptops and have always been using MS OS, have a Windows phone. I have spent over an hour in Microsoft store during my three visits trying to convince myself to buy the RT tablet. I have lots of PDF manuals and training videos and I don't really need to watch picture galleries or to work with Office docs. I ended up going to the Apple store and getting the iPad 4 with 64 GB. Just Google for "sample pdf" on RT, download it and zoom in, you will understand why I have not invested $700 into MS at this time. PDF text was awfully blurry. Hopefully next time, at their next attempt, Microsoft will make a better (and truly competitive) tablet. For the existing RT hardware I would not spend over $300, seriously. The screen resolution could be definitely better.
  • Uh, screen resolution isn't going to affect zooming in on a PDF, the resolution of the original PDF file is going to determine how blurry it looks when you zoom in.
  • Hi jhoff80, I appreciate your response.  Please Google for any PDF file and try to zoom in, have you? It is all blurry. Then try to do the same thing on a new iPad - text looks clystal clear and sharp, no matter how much you zoom it in.  A guy at MS store said - "well, it is still readable", which was not enough for me. As for the resolution - MS could make a better display for this price.
  • clearly a fake post. Going in and buying a $700-$830 ipad (depending on if he/she optd for 3g/4g) and comparing it to a $600 item with no education of the item and solely basing it off of pdf reader I just a huge joke
    She signed up just to trollpost.  LOL
  • Hi bkbillma. I am not posting anything fake in here. I brough my money to the MS store three times. I really wanted to buy Surface, really. I have been using Windows since it came out, Oh, how much I was waiting for this tablet to be released. I am in San Francisco this week and wanted to get this tablet because I would save on tax comparing to Canada, currency exchange (CA dollar is currently stronger than the US dollar) and the tablet is $20 cheaper. I even took friends (who never had any tablet) to take a look at it, so maybe friends, who also use Windows on there PCs, could convince me. There is something wrong with rendering of PDF files. Yes, I will be using the tablet to read those files, a lot, why not? I have been using Kindle DX for PDF files, quite successfully, and thought Surface would do a better job. If I did not buy Surface - it does not mean I don't like it. It is good device in average, but not good enough to spend $500 (or more) on this yet. I really did not plan to buy an iPad, I assure you. Let it not look like an insult to all admirers of the Surface. I will just wait for another Microsoft's attempt, hoping the tablet quailty will be somewhat close to Apple's toys.
  • This is a troll post. Nothing about it is real because it doesn't make sense!
  • I don't mean to close the curtains on Surface by any means, but am i the only one who nothiced that George wrote "Zenith" as his test word!!!  are you hinting at something George!! Please tell me you guys have something on this device.  to be honest, I was waiting on that special mammoth sized HTC device that they do best!  Spill the beans guys!! 
  • Nice read! Finally got to a Microsoft store yesterday to get a little hands on time with a Surface.. That thing is beautiful. It wasn't laggy or slow in any way. Can't wait to get mine!
  • I'd like a more elaborate response on this paragraph:
    While I see the Surface being a very capable device for work and play, a laptop still has more capabilities. From a larger screen size that comes in handy for everything from multi-tasking to photo editing to larger storage and connectivity options.I have a disk drive for movies, multiple USB ports and a larger hard drive.
    Each of the items listed as a con in the above paragraph is already handled with the Surface.
    1) Larger screen - The MS Surface can be connected to an external Display, just like a laptop (and I am bold enough to say that most people using a laptop for work do connect it to an external display).
    2) Larger Storage - The MS Surface has expandable storage via SD card.  I've worked at Microsoft for many years (i.e. I've used laptops professionally in the corporate world) and I never need much space on my local laptop (maybe 25gigs at most?).  Almost all my work was done remotely, using RDP to connect to other computers.  
    3) Disc Drive - I have to wonder, how many people actually use their disc drive these days to watch movies?  About 90% of my at-home media is now digital.  Is it really that big of a con?
    4) Multiple USB ports - Please tell us why you need more than 1 USB port.  If you do need more than one on a portable device, have you considered a USB hub?  If you are using more than 1 USB port at a time, then I'll assume that you are using the laptop on a desk or some kind of table. Therefor a USB hub would probably work well in that situation.
    In conclusion, can you please elaborate on the reasons why you think the MS Surface won't replace your laptop?  The reasons you've given so far don't really add-up.
  • its useless on the lap, they need a solid keyboard option, its ok on a flat surface like a table though but then you're further away and the screen is too small at that point, also as I've mentioned they need to work with cisco and get their vpn software allowed on the desktop so enterprises can log onto their networks.
  • I find it better on the lap than most any laptop because the keyboard is so thin it doesn't put your wrists in quite as awkward a position.  Of course with the new thinner ultrabooks that is less of an issue.  But this works surprisingly well on your lap
  • Excuse me, may you told me that does the surface support Davork soft keyboard? And could I use a paid input method for example like Q9 in the surface?
  • I have mine here, the apps are a little lacking but they will come. My only big concern is that there is no port for Cisco vpn and that will lock out enterprise for the RT variants. They need to give Cisco the ability to add a desktop app, all the other tablets offer this option
  • In previous Windows versions the "writing pad" was called the Ink pad, and writingcalled inking. The experience was the best of all OS'es and to some degree still the best experience. Looking forward to the new experience in Windows 8 pro.
  • Sorry but gaming on RT is not good. For example, go play Jetpack Joyride on Win8 & then WinRT. 8's frame rate is amazing, RT's is sometimes unacceptable. Isn't like this with every game, but with Fruit Ninja and JPJR it is.
  • My Surface works on a full on work and play machine with the help of remote desktop to my Win 8 Machine at home.  The built in remote desktop is just beautiful.  All of the swipe gestures work perfectly in the remote desktop.  It is like you have full on windows 8 pro on your surface but with just a slight bit of lag.  Obviously this is limited to a network connection but I will not be purchasing a laptop any time soon.
    I run my notepad++ and Visual Studio just fine in the remote desktop setting
  • Anybody know how to enable watching embedded videos on a forum? For example, a forum i go to, somebody would embed a video, but all i get is a black x, how do i enable watching it?
  • Thanks for the follow up review. I think there are so many things other reviews just miss about the Surface RT that it feels unfair. I was psyched when it accepted my xbox controller without any setup and being able to actually play a few games with it. It is true that some games run at low fps, but other games look great. I wonder if some software optimization would be of help since I know the nvidia T30 chip is a very capable one. Another feature I just love is the DLNA integration and its capability to stream from a network share of movies residing on my desktop PC (I have my Surface joined to my HomeGroup). I have a networked HDTV and being able to tap the Devices charm, select my TV from the list (yes, no setup required at all on the Surface side) and have the movie playing on the TV while being able to pause and scrub from the Surface is also amazing!! I can post a video to show how nice it works if there is interest. So far, I'm happy with it. It is my media consumption\entertainment device capable of doing some productivity on, and I just love its physical design.
    I am really having fun using my Surface nonetheless the only missing part for me is a SIM card. As you don't always have the WiFi connectivity option and where I am from we rely on the SIM as main tool to connect in addition to the fact that my 3g dongle software can't run on the desktop mode (because it’s RT) I think the next Surface pro will be the perfect package :)
  • How has the screen orientation performed for you?  One thing I noticed while playing with various Surfaces at the Microsoft store, is that the display doesn't seem to orient itself very well, or very quickly.  
    For example, I was handling the tablet in my hand vertically, and then closed the Touch cover.  I then set it horrizontally on its kickstand, and opened the cover; while it did switch to landscape mode, it was upside-down.  I tried jostling the tablet a bit to try and trigger the display to flip over, and ended up having to pick the whole thing up to get it to reorient itself.  I observed similar glitches while handling other Surfaces in the store, so I don't think it was a bad unit.
    Has this happened to you, and if so, do you think this is something Microsoft could fix with an update?
  • Oh, and just as an addendum to my prior comment, a Microsoft Store employee approached me just as I was having the upside-down screen problem, and asked if I had any questions about the device.  When I pointed out the issue, he was very condescending, and acted like I was stupid for not knowing how to use the device, and that all tablets act that way.  Not how you treat a customer.
  • can you run portable apps off a USB on the Surface?
  • I'm pretty sure you can only run portable apps off of a micro SD card. USB would probably be for documents, pictues, videos, etc.
  • RT will only run the preinstalled apps and apps installed from the Microsoft store. It's a no to apps on a USB or sd card.
  • Just bought a Surface yesterday :D So excited! Getting it for Christmas :D
  • But my question didnt get answered.. why cant the surface play videos from pornsites like youporn or xvideos!?
  • LMAO
  • I still want to know if the surface RT apps will be limmited to what the Intel based surface apps will be. I'd be fine with an RT but if I won't be able to get as many apps I would rather wait to get the Intel based
  • BTW peeps I finally found a tutorial on how to do screen capture with the surface.
    Volume rocker down and the Windows Icon on the front of the tablet at the same time. 
    The capture is found inside of the photo hub called screenshots. You might have to exit and go back into the photo app B4 capture shows up. 
    Lets flood the web with Surface screen caps.
    Few of my captures:
  • Capture folder.
    This edit feature is not working as it should
  • Nice screen shots :) Hey Jay. Thanks for fixing the mini-link problem with the lowercase/uppercase letters. Nice...
  • Thanks.
  • Question:  How many people are using the Surface as a stand alone tablet?
    It seems like most people love it as a very small ultrabook/laptop but I don't see anyone using it (or talking about its usefullness as a stand alone tablet).  The premise of the Surface is as a convertible tablet and while everyone seems ecstatic about it in "Laptop" mode it sounds like very few people are using it in tablet mode (the 10.6" form factor seems WAY too big in either portrait or landscape mode).  Please don't flame me for this - I am truly curious.
  • I use mine as a stand alone tablet when i'm at home on the couch or in bed. I do use the keyboard when i'm eating and just chilling. it's about 80/20 in favor of tablet mode.
    When i'm going back and forth to work I play games,play music, watch podcast or movies. I just love the reaction of the ipad users when I snap on or off the touch cover. It's priceless. 
    I'll be picking up two more touch covers when the MS store open up later on this month at the Yorkdale mall. 
  • In all honesty, you answered your own question. The Surface is the future of tablet use, being available today. Tablets have always been limited to media consumption devices due to either hardware and/or software restrictions and inabilities to bring true productivity while being stable. I am hoping Apple stays true to their disparaging words of the Surface and don't upgrade their great selling, but stale iOS for either the Ipad or Iphone. Seeing they just dropped the Ipad Mini when they said a 7 inch tablet was stupid and useless tells me iOS 7 will be their attempt to do what Microsoft has with Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Surface R/T, Surface Pro and all the other Windows 8 tablets.
  • Just a heads up, the handwriting recognition works a lot faster if you don't use cursive!
    Also, the keyboard in the Metro interface is a bit better than the traditional Windows version as there is no empty space on the sides, thus giving you a bit bigger layout.
  • Writing pad entry can be instant. If you write the next word it instantly interprets the previous word. I loved using the writing pad it's a lot faster than typing.
  • really guys first you totaly amazed me with website amazing designe and now the app it just feel like
    nokia lumia 920 black
  • can not wait any more with the new surface RT runs Directx 11.1 
    and call of duty,crysis,mass effect and othere game will come , course they all run directx 10.1
    looking foreward to playing true xbox live games , on tablet,phone,xbox 360
    lookin to be a nice christmas 2012
  • Will Surface RT work with windows phone 7? Or does it matter because everything has to do with the SkyDrive?
  • I have a surface and my favorite onscreen keyboard is the one you didn't show - being the one that most closely replicates a full keyboard with number keys on the top row
  • I went to a Microsoft store (Danbury, CT) for the first time. I was hoping to play with a Windows Phone 8 device but, They didn't have one. So, I looked and played with the Surface. It's a nice and solid device. The size is right and with the right keyboard, it could totaly be a full blown laptop replacement.
    With this being said, I will only buy a Pro device. Something that will run Windows 8 on a X64 proccessor so I can run other Windows apps, not just RT based apps. I could see this for work being an awsome device but, dumping on a few classic/modern Tripple A games and a Xbox 360 controller, it could be an awsome gaming to go device.
    I can see Black Ops 2 running on it, on it's stand with an xbox 360 controller playing anywhere. Tell me that would not be epic !!!!
  • I bought the Surface, I'll probably write about it soon.
    I would not agree Fruit Ninja is smooth; compared to my roommate's iPad 3, it is lacking in FPS (it probably runs about 20fps or even 15fps) compared to the fluid smoothness of the iPad. This may be that the game isn't optimized just yet for the Surface.
    One thing that disappointed me was the power of the built-in speakers. Since they point outwards (i.e. not at your face), they are almost useless if you have background noise. The headphone sound, however, is excellent. I actually have to keep the volume at 2 (out of 100) for my USB headphones.
    The USB jack is one of the best features. I've plugged two kinds of USB headphones with no issues. It supports wired 360 controllers and apparently also wireless assuming you have the receiver (I do).
    The kickstand is awesome, I use it for hands-free YouTube browsing. The best YT app is YouTubeRT since it's easy to use, and video playback is smooth and fluid at 1080p. The site itself works but you can't change the resolution using the gear icon as it won't pop up.
    Browsing is a little slower but hopefully that can be addressed in future updates.
    Battery life is superb, I actually created a custom power plan (since the Desktop mode lets you access the entire control panel practically) where it never turned down the brightness and didn't turn off the screen and left it like that for half the work day. I went back to the default settings for the rest of the day and probably watched another hour of videos and browsing the net before it reached rock bottom. Under normal use (which for me is videos and browsing), I don't even need to charge at night.
    You can configure the proxy settings like you would on a desktop machine, via Internet Options. I wish this (and other settings) were exposed in the Metro UI. I wish the battery indicator would show the percentage on the lock screen and charms screen (you have to go into Desktop mode to see). I wish you could be more granular about what syncs under Personalization (like only sync lockscreen, not Start screen styles).
    Remote desktop works great, I was able to develop on RDP and debug my app directly on the Surface (via Remote Debugging).
    VPN set up works, but it has to support the IPSec, PPTP, etc. that native Windows does. I think DirectAccess works but you need the required infrastructure to set it up.
    I haven't had much issue finding apps. Yes, there are some missing (Amazon, etc.) but for the most part, the web equivalents work fine for now. I pin them to my start screen for instant launch.
    The storage for the 32GB is a bit misleading, as I only have about 12GB free now. Luckily, you can expand via MicroSD.
    The video out is Micro HDMI but Microsoft won't tell you that, because they'll sell you the $40 adapter. DO NOT BUY IT. They bend it in the packaging, so mine totally didn't work out of the box. I will return it, and I ordered $5 equivalents off Amazon (an HDMI to Micro HDMI 6ft cable and an HDMI to Micro HDMI adapter in case I don't have access to my cable).
    I like the on-screen keyboard except that if I spell a word it doesn't know, it auto-corrects. On my Droid, I can simply hit Backspace to bring back the word I typed but WinRT doesn't do that, it just backspaces normally and I am forced to re-spell the word after which it doesn't auto-correct. This is a big pain and I hope they fix that because it reduces the usability of the on-screen keyboard. It also doesn't bring up a list of potential replacements like most phones, it just picks the one it thinks is best and I think you have to manually select a word to add it to the dictionary (where on my droid it asks if I want to save the word I just typed). I hate my droid and I plan to move to WP8, but I have to admit the typing experience is better on it.
    Overall I am very pleased with my purchase. I originally wanted to wait for the Pro or maybe even go for a 3rd party tablet like the Lenovo Yoga, but I decided that the Surface provided what was important to me (not a laptop replacement but as a companion with longer battery, portability, and ease of use). It's light, the touch cover works great, and besides a few gripes, it's awesome.
  • Thank you George.  Loved the review. I finally got one and it does grow on you. I thought I would miss Flipboard until i discovered Bento for Windows RT. it is awesome for reading WPCentral news but again, thanks for the great review.