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Microsoft Surface With Windows RT Review (Part 4)

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From the Start Screen, you can start typing to search for something – a trick you can use on the Windows Store’s home screen. On the desktop, the windows feel more 2D plane, meaning that the old borders is something from the past. By default, everything proves to be more finger-friendly than your average Windows desktop, with the bigger buttons and menu options.

The video playback support is somewhat limited at this time. The system will play WMV files and MK4, but does not know what to do with the MKV file by default, and even an old AVI file that we played failed miserably. So, if you are hoping this device will be good at playing video files in any format that you put in, such as the x86 version of Windows, you will be disappointed. At least until someone tries to transform ARM into VLC.

When they do, you will have to download it from the Windows Store. Indeed, you will have everything from the Windows Store. As a reminder, nothing prevents you from downloading legacy applications from your browser, but the application will not run on Windows RT. As we discovered, you can create a shortcut on the desktop for applications. But when you try to load them, a banner will go across the screen, saying that this application will not run on the device. As for the applications you can run, the selection is small, but is growing. For example, Netflix has just appeared in the Windows Store, and we're pretty much waiting for the early launch (including our application). So far, there has been a group of heavy players, including Skitch, Box.net, Associated Press, Evernote, eBay, StumbleUpon, Pandora and Slacker Radio. We want to believe that that is a good sign for other important applications that have not yet appeared on the platform.

Netflix has just appeared in the Windows Store.

Netflix has just appeared in the Windows Store.

At least there is a Kindle app, but it is not optimal at this point. The page flip is sometimes done very quickly, but sometimes takes up to 5 seconds. The voice playback (Whispersync for Voice) is supported and we encountered an error when trying to open a comic book, and the beautiful screen means what if you cannot read the Watchmen?

At least there is a Kindle app, but it is not optimal at this point.

At least there is a Kindle app, but it is not optimal at this point.

We searched for other popular applications, but were often left empty-handed. The famous applications we were still waiting for include: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Dropbox, Mint, PageOnce, TripIt, NPR, Angry Birds, Draw Something, Word with Friends, Temple Run, Spotify, Springpad, Remember the Milk, Amazon, Instapaper, Pocket (formerly Read It Later), Flipboard, Steam, Instagram, Nook, Zinio and Rdio. You cannot even install the Microsoft Silverlight browser plugin, which will be the final nail in the coffin of that platform.

We could not find any aviation application. Now, we cannot say for sure, but it seems like Twitter, Foursquare and Rovio will not be developed for Windows RT and Windows 8. Basically, this is a new ecosystem, and of course it will grow – we just recommend that you be patient if you insist on buying a Surface as the first user.

Camera

A photo taken by the Surface

A photo taken by the Surface

The Surface has two 720p cameras, but unless you like video chatting, you certainly will not use them much. Even at the tablet standards, the image quality is quite poor. Our “full resolution of 1,280x720” photos seem to have so many broken pixels, even in bright environments which should not create any interference. You will also notice more color saturation (see the red peppers in the sample gallery to see what we say here). Regarding the Surface’s ability to record 720p videos, we noticed the motion blur problem, but we were happily surprised by how audio was nicely demonstrated. So often, our clips recorded by the tablet have some distorted quality. In this case, the tablet did not record any strong wind that might otherwise ruin our records.

 

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