We Like The Surface; We're Waiting For Surface Pro
Apple’s original iPad was introduced in April of 2010. Since then, we've only considered one tablet a serious competitor, and that was Google's Nexus 7. In fact, in The Nexus 7 Review: Google's First Tablet Gets Benchmarked, the plucky little seven-incher won the first award we've ever given to a tablet.
Thus far, though, we've generally regarded tablets as toys. Well, perhaps not toys in a literal sense, but we typically use them around our houses for playing mainstream games, browsing the Web, listening to music, and watching video. Those are all very common tasks, but they aren't productivity-oriented.
Tons of me-too products have found their way their way through our lab. The Nexus 7 was the one we liked most. But it remains a pure tablet. Even if it's more comfortable to hold than a big 10"+ model, more affordable than anything Apple could conceive, and part of a mature software ecosystem in Google Play, there are certain things it just doesn't do.
And then the Surface dropped into our lab, right on the day our pre-order promised it would.
Suddenly we had many of the luxuries we enjoy on the desktop. Only, we were using a tablet. Wait, whaaat? It immediately became possible to do things and work in ways that simply hadn't been possible previously. And for all of the hate Windows 8 has been receiving in the enthusiast community, we're switching over to it in the lab, and it's actually nice to see a common interface on our most powerful desktops and on the Surface.
Granted, Microsoft's first foray into the tablet space is not without its faults. Hardware-wise, the display is merely adequate, and Windows RT does so much that Android and iOS don't do that it's plenty easy to overwhelm Nvidia's Tegra 3 if you try using the tablet like an enthusiast might be tempted to. On the software front, there's Microsoft's Windows Store to contend with. No legacy Windows software allowed. In fact, only Microsoft's applications will run on the Windows RT Desktop. That's a pretty tough pill to swallow when we've just spent several more pages praising the company's work on the operating system itself.
With the few things we dislike aside, we continue to be bullish about using Microsoft's Surface as a replacement for the Ultrabooks and MacBook Airs we carry around with us to trade shows and meetings, along with the tablets we use around the house when we get home. Flip the cover up and drag our fingers around the way we'd use a tablet? Sure. Drop the Type Cover down, snap out the kickstand, and bang out some email? Definitely. Hook up a second monitor for some extra workspace in the office? Yes, please! We certainly can't say the same for any iOS- or Android-based device.
One of the Surface's biggest advantages is its ability to multitask effectively. And yet one of its most glaring weaknesses is the Windows Store, with its limited selection of Windows RT-ready apps. We have to hesitate on a recommendation knowing the Surface Pro is coming soon. We're only afraid of what it's going to cost, given a steep price tag on a Surface with the Type Cover we like so much.