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My Problems with Microsoft Surface RT

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Rather than a complete review of the Surface, this is a discussion of my main problems with the device:

First off, I'm strictly a Windows user, though I've dabbled with some Mac and Linux in the past. I'm no Apple Fanboy, but I have had several iOS devices including iPads 2 and 3 and an iPhone 4. Though I've gotten rid of my iPads along the way when I needed some extra cash. I bought the surface because I thought having a tablet that could double as a computer would be the best of both worlds. I could get rid of my laptop and work PC for one simple device. Plus, Live Tiles look intriguing to me, and seem more personal than little static squares that are now so popular. I've thoroughly enjoyed the W8 interface on my desktop PC, of which mixed reviews abound. Overall the hardware and appearance of the UI is very appealing. Also, the UI is very responsive.

I'm just gonna hit the high points since there are so many reviews that cover the standard stuff.

1. Complete lack of Notification Center - Sitting near your Surface RT? Hear a *bleep*? Want to see what it was? You better hurry the hell up, because if you don't catch that notification during that 1 second that it shows up.... kiss it goodbye. It's gone. There is simply no notification area for you to deal with all the notices that you get. I found myself trying to figure out if I got an email, had a calendar event, got an IM, or had a download finish. It's just absurd and a complete oversight by the dev team IMO. I know an update could easily fix this, and that iOS didn't come with it. But you don't introduce a new product to compete with the competitors' former offerings. You have to compete with what's out there now and notification centers have been with us for a while now.

2. apps Apps APPS - It's been stated over and over that there's not enough, and it's true. The overall number isn't important so much as the availability of big name apps - and many are missing. This will of course be rectified over time, and really isn't going to be that big of a deal going forward, IMO. But if you are worried about apps right now, then yeah, there's not enough - period.

3. Games (kind of an apps sub thingy) The BIGGEST issue I have here is the included games, or the lack thereof. There are relatively few good gaming apps on the surface right now. Microsoft knew that would be the case at launch. If MS knew there would be a shortage of quality games, and MS also knew they were getting an awesome new version of Minsweeper ready for W8, why in the HELL would you not go ahead and make it ARM compatible? And also why in the hell would MS not go ahead and get Solitaire and Mahjongg ready for ARM? I would have been a lot more pleased with my Surface RT had I been able to play these games when I opened the box. Instead, I have to hope for future release of ARM compatibility.

A final note... it seems that every single game I've played has touch interface lag on the Surface. IOW, every time you touch the screen, frames skip. It's ugly, annoying, and has been blamed mostly on lack of available hardware for devs. Regardless of the cause, it's a problem and makes me shy away from playing Jetpack Joyride and Angry Birds.

4. PC replacement implementation is a nightmare. First of all, since there is no "dock" available, I have to hook up 3 cables to use my Surface RT as my work computer - HDMI, USB hub, power. The dev team famously stated that the kickstand and ports "are your dock." Well then they're all idiots if they thought I'd want to fidget with a bazillion cables and have my surface tethered to another peripheral in every direction. A dock is about simplicity and cleanliness. Pop it into the dock, no cables to connect, no mess to deal with. Seems a no brainer, as Dell figured out with their enterprise tablet.

Once you get past the whole "dock" thing you have multi-monitors. Well once you get it setup, prepare to scratch your head. Press the start button on your tablet, start screen appears on your monitor. Sounds ok until you realize that means that if you are typing a document on your monitor and just wanted to glance at your email on your Surface, when you hit start on your Surface the Start screen appears in place of your open document and you have to proceed to switch apps between screens. You can use the charms menu on each screen to open the start screen on that particular screen, but good luck activating the charms menu on the invisible line between your tablet and second screen. It's possible, but very awkward. Overall, it just seemed like I had no control over what screen an app opened in or how the start screen popped up. I'm sure that I could eventually get used to it, but it just doesn't have the intuitiveness that multi-monitors in W7 seems to have.

Finally, and this is more a personal preference I've learned about myself than it is anything MS did wrong with the Surface, I just find the idea of "PC replacement" with the Surface too uncertain. The lack of a dock, the multimonitor confusion, combined with the overall uncertainty of carrying my work computer around, which could lead to forgetting it somewhere and not having access to my files for a day or two, just makes me feel uneasy about letting go of my desktop. Now, I work at the same desk everyday, so people who are used to toting a laptop for work won't have this problem, but I know I'm not the only one out there that was considering a Surface as a desktop replacement. I personally feel that there are too many drawbacks to warrant getting rid of your standard work PC. Thus it leads me to this conclusion: The Surface is the best pc-replacement-tablet out there. It can do both tablet and PC pretty well. But if that PC replacement implementation turns you off, then you're just getting a "pretty good" tablet.

TL;DR
Conclusion. MS lured me away from an ecosystem that I've invested in because W8 and its Live Tiles and having the "same" OS on my tablet and PC intrigued me. However, MS just went about it all wrong. Lack of games, poor game performance, lack of a notification center, poor dock/multimonitor support, are just too annoying to overlook. The answer for many of the above stated problems is to "wait" --> "wait for apps" "wait for updates" or "wait for the Surface Pro." If that's the case, then it looks like it's Microsoft that should have waited, and/or should have offered only one type of surface - the Pro. Should have given app devs better hardware access, should've polished the UI more, should have... should have... should have.... Why should I have to pay the same price as an iPad only to wait for functionality to catch up? I'm not that brand loyal to anyone - Apple included.

I know this review jumps around a lot, but I just tried to summarize my main problems with the surface. I was all geared up to invest in Surface and even Windows Phone. That may still happen in the future, but that will be up to MS. For now, I'm returning my surface and getting an iPad 4.
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Backroom Blitz
(18 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5-3570K GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD3H MSI GTX 670 OC 16GB (4x4) Samsung 30nm 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
128GB Samsung 470 Series SATA II MLC MZ-5PA128C/AM 640GB Caviar Blue ASUS USB 2.0 Black External Slim CD/DVD Corsair H100 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
W7 Home Premium HP LP2465 Saitek Eclipse II Antec EarthWatts EA-650 GREEN 650W 
CaseMouseAudioAudio
HEC Blitz Black Steel Edition Logitech G400 Plantronics GameCom 367 Asus Xonar DG 
OtherOther
LOGISYS FP600BK 6-Channel Fan Controller  Logitech G13 
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post #2 of 3
This is a pretty fair review and your concerns are definitely merited.

I would be frustrated if there wasn't a notification center that pooled whatever pops up so you can click it at your earliest convenience. I'm guessing we're supposed to just wake up at 2 AM when we get an email from Slickdeals about something we have on our wishlist.

App/Dev support is one of those things I think we all knew would take time.

The unpredictable docking set up however, is completely inexcusable. It takes about 5 minutes to set up your ports on Windows 7 desktop environment. It's rather arrogant that they would toss it out like this and expect to patch it up when people complain.
post #3 of 3
I was thinking of getting a surface, but the half featured "windows RT" made me a little nervous. When I saw you could get full windows 8 tablets starting at $100 more, I went that direction instead. Sounds like that may have been the right choice judging from your review.
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SUPERPWN
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Core i5 4670K Asus z87-Pro HIS R9 290x HIS R9 290x 
RAMHard DriveOSMonitor
32GB DDR3 Gskill Ripjaws 4TB Seagate Windows 8 x64 Overlord x270 OC 
MonitorMonitorKeyboardPower
HP ZR27 LG34UM94 G-Tune Topre Realforce 800w 
Audio
Yulong D100 DAC with Denon D7000 headphones 
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