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Microsoft Surface With Windows RT Review (Part 1)

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When Microsoft introduced the Surface tablet series with a top-secret and flashy event in Los Angeles, it did not only mark the beginning of a new (and extremely important) phase in the company's history, it also marked the reusing of a name that was quite familiar to us – under the guise of a large table. That device lived as PixelSense life, thus marked the end of a definition, a definition that Microsoft kindly requested that we leave behind when we had to move on to something completely different.

Microsoft Surface with Windows RT

Microsoft Surface with Windows RT

This new Surface device can be said to be closely related to the actual form of the word that we are talking about. Specifically, it is a verb to rise up – for something that does not seem to exist before. It is such a suitable definition for what Microsoft is doing, trying to go from zero to hero in the field of tablet hardware with just one shot. Is this, the Surface with Windows RT, good enough to erase decades of Windows devices with trivial touchscreen? Will it help Microsoft and their latest operating system emerge to the top in the tablet hierarchy? Your answer is below.

This new Surface device can be said to be closely related to the actual form of the word that we are talking about.

This new Surface device can be said to be closely related to the actual form of the word that we are talking about.

Hardware

It is not easy to give to a tablet a design or a feel that makes it quite different from hundreds of tablets that have appeared before, but this Surface is indeed outstanding in both areas. It is difficult to distinguish our intuitive impressions with those tactile impressions.

On the outside of the tablet there is a matte surface that looks dark and feels quite strong and durable. It was built using Microsoft’s Vapor Mg process, which is based on the vapor deposition to produce an outstanding rough state, which we found quite attractive. The material feels amazing in the hand and it is used here to create a quite  complicated structure, which is flat in front and behind, but with the sides leaning out, connecting to a slightly wider front on the back .

This trend creates a feeling of safety while you are walking by taking this tablet under your arms, and makes room for a slightly larger screen than the average 9.7 inch and 10.1-inch tablets. In fact, its screen is 10.6 inches, just a bit larger than the new iPad, but its resolution is much lower, with only 1,366x768. As we found out behind the scenes to learn about the design and development of this device, the screen ratio is 16:9 and it was decided according to the will of the customers to take advantage of the Windows RT’s ideal direction, and as we would clearly tell in detail in the next section; the quality of this screen mainly compensates for its relative lack of resolution.

The rim around the edge is perforated.

The rim around the edge is perforated.

The rim around the edge is perforated, which is more than your average tablet, even including two new exclusive magnet connectors. The first, and largest, connector is located under the tablet. It has six connectors, supplying power and data connection for Microsoft’s third-party keyboard cover of, and hopefully, for many more accessories to come. In the lower right corner is another similar but incompatible magnet connector, the type with only 5 pins. When the device’s AC adapter is plugged in, that customized plug means that you will have to carry it whenever you go out, but at least this means is that it offers more power than the USB connector average does and therefore is will be charged faster. However, we expected that the connectors would stick to each other better. With MagSafe, it seems to be likely that when you put the connector close to the plug, the two will stick together. Microsoft’s option requires much more accuracy than that and they do not stick well.

Holding on to the right side, the next port you will find is a USB 2.0 connector which is ready for a USB drive, keyboard, hub, mouse and anything else you can stick. We cannot help but feel a little disappointed that it is not a USB 3.0, but this port is incredibly useful as well as the micro-HDMI connector located above. Then comes the right speaker, with its brother lying on the other side. On the top you will find two microphones along the power button, which can be found on the right side. On the left is the 3.5mm headphone jack located just above the volume rocker. Finally, hiding behind the fold-out kickstand at the rear is a microSDXC port, which means that the storage can be almost endlessly expanded, which is  just a small chip away from you.

The installation of all these ports means that this tablet is quite large, and it is not just because of the screen. The full size is 10.81x6.77x0.37 inches (275x172x9.4 mm), which is quite wider and higher than the new iPad, but is only 0.2mm thicker – not bad at all, given that you have the large USB ports. The weight of 1.5 pounds means that it is 0.1 pound heavier than the latest iPad, but for some reason it still feels heavier.

Around the back is where one of the most prominent hardware features is found – the kickstand. Although useful, we often laughed at the presence of such an accessory as they pop out from phones and tablets. But here, it contains one important part of the DNA of the device. Yes, it can be used to build up the tablet and watch movies, but when combined with one of the Microsoft keyboards that is offered at launch, the $120 Touch Cover or the $130 Type Cover, it becomes the amazingly powerful replacement laptop. Or at least as a substitution. Its hinge is quite complicated but it feels durable, although we wished that Microsoft had put a  groove in the stand on either side instead of just one on the left. Sometimes flipping it out with your hand can be quite difficult.

While focusing on the design and feel, we will be negligent if we do not talk about the sound of the device. Indeed, the kickstand fips out with a very satisfying sound and the Touch Cover touched the bottom with a good "thunk" sound. Rest assured, since the magnet connection is strong enough to support the weight of the tablet which is swinging freely underneath – although we do not suggest you swing it too enthusiastically.

When it comes to other kinds of sound that this thing can create, which you really want to listen to through the built-in stereo speakers, the Surface is only acceptable. Despite having twice the speakers as the iPad, it cannot really be compared with the maximum volume of such products. But at least it provides stereo separation and the overall sound quality is average for a tablet –  that is, it completely lacks bass.

As it is the time to put this stuff online, since it has limited uses when disconnected, you only have Wi-Fi. Microsoft does not offer this device 3G or LTE connection, at least not yet, but you have the comprehensive 802.11: a/b/g/n with 2x2 MIMO sending and receiving. There is also Bluetooth 4.0.

 

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