Revisited and Reviewed: Over a year with the Microsoft Surface RT

Episode 2 of revisited and reviewed. In our first episode we covered the Lumia 1020. This time we take a look at Microsoft’s first generation RT tablet, the Surface RT. And see how it performs as a tablet back then and now.

June, 2012. Microsoft unveils the Surface tablet to lots of fanfare. The device, with its sleek magnesium body and keyboard touch cover, generated a lot of hype in the media. But unfortunately,it was met with much criticism and didn’t sell well. Microsoft even lost $900m on a price write-down.

But it seems that Microsoft isn’t giving up on the Surface RT, or the Windows RT platform, as it launched the 2nd generation of the Surface RT: the Surface 2 (which, by the way, recently launched in Singapore).

So before we get our hands on our Surface 2 review unit (which is still yet to arrive), let’s take a trip into the past and revisit the Surface RT.

HOW I GOT ONE

I’ve been using the Surface RT since Nov 2012. When it was first released, a relative of mine flew over to the States and bought one as a surprise birthday present from a Microsoft Store there, for a rather expensive $800(SGD). It came bundled with the Touch Cover.

WHAT I USED IT FOR

Many people wonder what’s the use of a Windows RT tablet. Well during my year of using it, it’s mostly just for working on Microsoft Office, surfing the web, and watching videos. One thing about the Surface which was extremely convenient was the USB port, which is great for accessing files via a thumb drive.

I’ve been onboard many flights during that time, and was glad to have the Surface with me, together with 2 seasons of Sherlock in a portable thumb drive. It really is a great device for watching movies.

PERFORMANCE

The performance of the Surface RT is rather disappointing for a tablet. Powered by a Tegra 3 chip, the RT underperformed in many aspects. It would lag on PowerPoint, take ages to load web pages, and you’d be spending a frustratingly long amount of time starring at splash screens before the app gets loaded.

Sure, there are some improvements with the Windows RT 8.1 update, but it still is painfully slow. So slow, in fact, that I refuse to use it for web browsing anymore, and would prefer using my MacBook Pro with Retina Display instead.

So all I use it for now is Office. That and watching shows.

DURABILITY REPORT

The Surface RT was said to be an extremely well built device. And while it is true that the magnesium casing feels premium and solid to the touch, my unit started flaking. After less than a year of use, the black paint started to peel off from the back of the device, revealing the silvery magnesium finish underneath. At first it was unnoticeable. But then the hole grew larger and larger, so I called up Microsoft for them to get it replaced.

surface paint

So… Durability? Not so good I’m afraid.

But then again, my Surface has been through some pretty hard knocks in its time. It fell flat onto the table twice when a friend of mine pulled the touch cover in an attempt to move the tablet closer to him. And then another friend came along and did the same thing. And one day while I was using it on my lap it wobbled a bit and smashed flat onto the floor. (All this happened before I got my Surface replaced, of course.) Kudos to Microsoft for giving the Surface 2 a 2-stage kickstand. At least Surface 2 owners won’t have their tablets falling off their laps the whole time.

APPS AND GAMES

Like I said, I only use my Surface for Office and watching videos. The apps were terrible and non-existent when I first bought my Surface, an even though a year later they released some great titles such as Facebook and Flipboard, the Surface is still too slow and laggy, making using these apps a pain.

It’s a similar story here with games. There are few great titles that are free, and the performance of the Surface is just so bad you’d be better off not playing a game.

So, apps? Well all I use is Office.

CONCLUSION

The Microsoft Surface got me deeply rooted into the Microsoft ecosystem. Because of my Surface (and my Lumia), OneDrive (then SkyDrive) is now an indispensible part of my life. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with my Surface, though it’s getting old and painfully, painfully slow. I was considering upgrading to a Surface 2. But the price tag is a little on the expensive side at $618 for the 32GB model, and I do have a MacBook to handle more intensive tasks now, so I guess there isn’t really a point in upgrading.

So there you have it, over a year with the Surface RT. Do any of you have stories to share? Do sound off in the comments below! And do look out for our Surface 2 review (once our review unit arrives). Do like us on Facebook to find out more.

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