Friday, May 30, 2014

Product Review - Microsoft Surface RT

I've done quite a few book reviews, but today I'm doing something completely out of the norm and doing my first product review. The Microsoft Surface caught my eye as soon as it came out. The fact that it has a full version of Microsoft Word was the one thing that set it apart from all other tablets in my mind. I always wanted a tablet I could use for writing, and here it is. For over a year, I practically drooled over every one I came across and dreamed about now nice it would be, but it was not something I could fit in my budget. I really didn't think I'd ever get one, or at least not for a long time and only if I had some great book sales. Well, a couple of months ago, I started looking at refurbished ones on eBay, which were much more within my price range. I was kind of iffy on the idea of buying refurbished just because I didn't know what issues they might have had before, but I wanted one too much and finally gave in about a month ago. I got a 32 GB Surface RT for $190, free shipping, off of eBay. Quite a deal, and SO worth it.
Here's my short review: I LOVE IT!
Now to be a little more specific. It is everything I hoped it would be and more. It's perfect for writing. I also have an HP Mini laptop that I bought a couple of years ago for something small to write on, but now it feels clunky compared to the Surface (I will always like my Mini too, though). It's very lightweight and portable, and the screen and colors are so vibrant and clear. Again, I have to mention that fact that it has Word. What more could a writer ask for in a tablet? The whole thing works almost exactly like a laptop, with a few limitations. I just think it's silly when I read reviews from people complaining that they "can't install any programs" on it and give it a bad review. Uh, I think they are all forgetting one key fact--this isn't a computer, it's a tablet. And tablets run with apps, not installable programs. This is why I always do my research so I know exactly what I'm getting.
The fact that I can't install anything on the Surface is no big deal. Being able to write on it was the selling factor for me. I will say Microsoft has a pretty small app store and most apps aren't very good, but it's only going to expand. As long as I have my main apps, I'm good. I can easily check mail, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and read Kindle and Nook books. Everything I need to write and do my publishing business stuff.
I think the only real complaint I have is that, since I can't install Firefox or Google Chrome, I am forced to use Internet Explorer. Yeah, you know how IE is. But I can live with it. If I want to do any heavy internet browsing all I have to do is go my desktop computer.
One of the nicest things is that, being a tablet, I don't have to shut it down unless it needs to update, which means I can just pick it up and start working without waiting for it to turn on. Let me tell you, that is NICE, especially if you want to write down some story notes quick. And battery life is quite good. It lasts about 7-8 hours with regular use. If I do use it regularly, I probably charge it every day or every other day, which takes about 2-3 hours.
Along with the Surface, I also bought a used (yup, I found every way to save money on this that I could ) blue Touch Cover keyboard. Okay, I admit, a big part of what drew me to the Surface besides it having Word was the option of a blue keyboard. What can I say? I'm obsessed with blue. (Even my Mini is blue.) I wasn't sure what I should do about the cover at first. I kind of wanted the Type Cover that actually had keys, but even used ones were a little out of my price range. I was afraid, though, that I wouldn't like the Touch Cover, but I bought in anyway because I knew I need something to write with. It's taken some getting used to. Imagine typing on a surface that has no keys. You're just tapping on a hard surface. It's kind of weird, but it's actually very responsive. I had read people who say they couldn't use it for heavy or prolonged typing. I just hoped I could, and I can happily say I'm not having any trouble with that. It can get a little annoying sometimes when I miss keys or one doesn't register, but it's worth saving the money, and I've already done extensive work with it. (I typed up this whole review on my Surface.)
The only other thing that is not the best is that, unlike a laptop, it won't sit nicely on your lap since it has a flip out stand in the back and the cover/keyboard just snaps in with a magnet and won't help keep it upright. I, however, have an easy solution to this. I bought a small (blue, of course) lap desk and it works perfectly when I want to write somewhere other than a table.
So that is my rather long, gushing review of the Microsoft Surface. I highly recommend it for writers as long as you understand its limitations and don't expect it to do something it wasn't designed to do. It's a perfect portable device for writing. I've even taken it outside and worked on the porch in the shade. It's so easy to just grab quick and write stuff down. I think it's really going to change how I've been writing over the years. I've talked before about how I always write my first drafts longhand. I kind of wished I could do it at my computer to save time, but I found it too distracting and didn't want to be confined to my room all the time. It seems much easier to do with the Surface. I've already written quite a bit with it and intend to continue. Considering the high hopes I had before I even purchased it, I'm very happy to say it met and even exceeded my expectations.


  1. Thanks for the review! The Surface caught my eye too when it first came out. I can see where it would be perfect to write on. I've been really wanting a 2-in-1 computer, so you can have something that is more like a laptop but also like a tablet.

    1. You're welcome! Glad you found it helpful. :)