Question about Surface Reviews (principally, the RT)

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface General Discussion' started by kristalsoldier, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    Hi all,

    I've now had my RT for about 3 weeks or so. In this time, I have used it extensively. I have also invested quite a bit of time reading various reviews about it - both here and elsewhere.

    One thing bothers me - most of the reviews (but not all) are quite negative about it. But based on my usage I can't say that I agree with these negative reviews.

    Here are some salient points in this regard:

    First, battery life. Well, my use of the RT closely approximates how I used to use my laptop (notice the past tense). Yes, the RT has pretty much become my laptop and my existing laptop has become deskbound! Usually, I use Office, to do stuff online and for some media consumption (mainly music). The battery easily lasts me around 8+ hours. In my books this is a plus.

    Second, the lack of apps. I agree, not too many apps in the Store. But I ask - how many apps does one actually need? Here is an example. In addition to the RT, I have the Nexus 10. On that I have 42 apps. Out of the 42, I use not more than 20-25 apps on a regular basis. I use things like multiple PDF apps, Skype, e-book readers, calendar, mail, travel and weather apps, media-related apps (Netflix etc.), and other stuff like Google Currents etc. I also have Docs-to-Go (but nowadays I seldom use that). I have not tried any of the travel apps on the RT, but aside from that I find that most of the other things are available and that too as free apps. Sure, I don't play any games (well, aside from Angry Birds), but how many games can one have? And, best of all, I have Office on the RT, which immediately puts the RT into a functional space that the Nexus 10 can only approximate (granted that is a function of Docs-to-Go and similar apps). So, where is the problem?

    Third, the question of switching between the Modern UI and the Desktop. Most of the reviews make a big deal about this. Maybe I am a bit slow, but I am not getting it! What is the problem really? Unless you want to create a new Office document, there is little need to access the Desktop - at least in my experience. If you receive a mail with a document attached, if you choose to open it (say, a PPT file), then the system opens up the Desktop by itself, fires up PowerPoint and opens your document. So, I ask again, where is the problem?

    Fourth, the presence of two versions of IE. Seriously, how is this a problem? As I see it (though I stand to be corrected), you use the version in the mode that you are in. If in the Modern UI mode, then use the IE app applicable; if in Desktop mode then use the Desktop version of it - if anything, it saves you from switching between modes (if that is a problem in the first instance). In this connection, however, there is one valid issue that has been pointed out in most of the reviews - the fact that the two versions of IE don't talk to each other. I can see how this would pose a problem and I hope MS has a solution for this in the very near future.

    Fifth, the mail and calendar app. The reviews state that this app is very basic. I agree. The reviews also say that this is one of those critical apps that MS should have polished BEFORE releasing the RT into the market. Again, I agree given our collective dependence on email etc. And, again, I hope MS does something smart about it and quickly. Else, it will then be a matter of investing in a third-party solution, which I don't mind doing as long as the solution is stable, elegant and is updated to reflect improvements. Only time will tell whether this will happen or not. But I remain hopeful.

    Sixth, the screen. Here the reviews are generally positive. I can't compare the screen to Apple's Retina display as I don't have access to it. But I do have access to the Nexus 10 screen, which is excellent and to be honest I do find reading for extensive periods of time more comfortable on the Nexus. That being said, however, I don't find the RT's screen as being bad. If anything, it is actually quite good.

    Seventh, on the question of accessing common commands such as increasing font size across apps etc. Is the system different from what most of us are used to? Yes! But then that is to be expected as Win 8 (and RT in particular) is a new OS and things will be different. Will it take time to get used to? Yes, of course. Can these things be further optimized? Absolutely. Do I expect them to be optimized down the road? I certainly hope so. But - and this is the bottomline - do they affect my productivity? Not really. It always takes time to get used to a new way of working. It is an opportunity to learn and not an occasion to moan about - at least that is my personal option.

    On other counts too the RT is proving itself to be an excellent device. It is light (in fact, it's ultra-ultra-portable (which in my books is a big plus with the caveat that YMMV), has an excellent integrated keyboard which does not use any system resources. The design is excellent and ergonomically, it is not too bad. All in all, I'd say, it is an excellent device.

    So, the question stands - given that I am not a fanboy of MS (though I have used MS products for the longest of times and Android only recently) - what am I missing that the reviewers seem to find so objectionable about the RT? The Surface Pro, of course, is another matter and since I don't have it and thus have never used or even seen it, I refrain from expressing my opinion.

    Edit: Apologies in advance for this long post!
     
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  2. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator

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    Well said. That is the way many of us who actually use the device feel. The "professional" reviewers are doing nothing more than finding flaws by directly looking for them in comparison to other devices and driving traffic their their sites in response to these "reviews". Actually using the devices paints a different picture. Are there flaws? Sure and well balanced reviews also include those but that is different than articles that only list flaws. It is unfortunate that you have to come to a site like this to find lists of both the good and bad reviews.

    At this point the only chance the average person has is to stumble upon a community of users like this where they can get a more complete picture or through direct word of mouth from somebody they know that has a Surface. Surface isn't going to be the right device for everybody and there are even reasons to get one over the other (RT or Pro) let alone an entirely different device. Too bad many people may not even give the Surface a chance based on many of the early wide spread reviews by the people who supposedly know about these kinds of things.
     
  3. pwaggs

    pwaggs Member

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    I have been looking for an excuse to swap my Surface RT out for a Pro. Even at 32GB (I do wish I had purchased the larger internal memory) I simply can't come up with a compelling reason to buy a Gen 1 Pro. Ummmm...I actually love my RT. And for travel, the RT is amazing. The battery life is hard to beat. My wish list is surprisingly short. More memory (my fault and fixable), a mini usb backup charging system, Apps, more robust Music App (podcasts are killing me on this thing) and finally a more durable touch cover (mine is really showing its age). So, I think I can easily make it to the holiday season when I am guessing a Gen 2 Pro device with the things I love about the RT will be available.
     
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  4. FFX

    FFX Active Member

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    if you want a better reading experience on your RT for pdf's. Then download adobe reader touch it's the only pdf app that utilize clear type on text, and the text looks amazing!
     
  5. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the recommendation. I'll do that.
     
  6. KLR

    KLR New Member

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    Nice post.
    The more I use Windows 8 on my desktop the less I want to use other non-windows based platforms. Right now I have an iPhone and iPad of which I am slowly eliminating. My contract is almost up with Verizon and I plan on moving over to a Windows phone (next month!!!). Things just seem to work well together.

    Right now my go-to device is the Surface RT and one day this will be upgraded to the Pro. The only reason why I still use the iPad is in support of a few apps that my kids and wife support otherwise I find that I can do just about everything on my Surface.

    No matter where you will go people will be "threatened" by MS and need to bash without really testing. Likewise the same holds true for those anti-Apple anti-Google folks..etc. It is what it is and will always be :)

    Thanks for the post.
     
  7. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys. I am glad that at least some of us are adventurous enough to try new things and to appreciate the good while understanding that not everything can be resolved in a single shot. I do hope MS supports the Surface - both the RT and the Pro - and that we have fresh options to choose from for to satisfy our personal (and professional) computing needs.

    On another note, Mary Jo Foley, who writes a regular column for ZDNet, reports that we (Surface users) may look forward to a performance enhancing updating of the Mail, Calendar and Contacts app shortly...maybe even by the end of this month. (Microsoft to update its core Windows 8 apps well before 'Blue' | ZDNet)
     
  8. chatterbot

    chatterbot New Member

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    The reviewers lack intellectual integrity. They think people want to read MSFT hate speech....so that is what they manufacture. plain and simple.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
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  9. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator

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    Mary Jo Foley is actually pretty good at calling these sorts of things thanks to her established contacts so that is encouraging :)
     
  10. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    I agree! I do follow her columns/ blogs quite regularly. In fact one of the first balanced articles that I read about the Surface RT was hers!
     
  11. Tom T

    Tom T New Member

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    I actually think it may be more a bias the reviewers themselves don't really understand. Many people find themselves dedicated to a certain platform and actually feel threatened by the introduction of competition. Take the iPad for instance, many dedicated users with large investments and nice hardware, but with a seriously limited OS. Now as long as the iPad is the One it will continue to be supported with ever more sophisticated apps to help overcome the limited OS. But the OS really can't evolve too far or it will leave the apps behind, effectively becoming a new platform in itself. The Surface offers tremendous potential, and I think people will eventually, although grudgingly, recognize it for the next generation hardware/os it represents......Or not...
     
  12. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    True. But in that case what passes as "reviews" are not really reviews are they? For example, under the thread - on this site - titled Reviews etc (or however it is titled), there are a series of videos. I saw quite a few of them and they seemed quite good. Then I saw the last one - the full review. It was insufferable. While I can accept the fact that the Surface may not have suited the usage of the person who made that video, but that is an opinion. It is not an assessment - objective and subjective - of the Surface. as a counter example, I recently read Paul Thurrott's review of the Surface Pro, which I found to be a balanced one. See, for example, http://winsupersite.com/windows-8/going-pro-wrapping and http://winsupersite.com/windows-8/microsoft-surface-windows-8-pro-review
     

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