My brief Surface tablet impressions

I checked out the Surface RT tablet today.

I disliked the 16:9 form factor, as expected. It looks like i’m reading a sheet of legal paper when held in portrait mode. I think the 16:9 could work in a smaller form factor, but here I thought it was too ungainly.  Especially in pure tablet mode, you can hardly reach your thumbs to the center of the screen to hit the virtual keys.

The software is unpolished and buggy. Example … you take a picture with the camera and you can’t see the picture you took. You have to navigate to the photos app to do that?

You try to play an game app from the store and it throws a guid error at you and asks you to download to play. I cannot imagine a single good reason to show a guid to a user on this tablet.

The store demo could not get their own internet working on the first tablet. They brought over another tablet that locked up right in front of me. Finally, they found another tablet and navigated to the website (reddit.com) and placed it in front of me. Not impressive.

The browser is responsive while scrolling and pinching/zooming. Good.

The universal gestures of dragging from one of the edges onto the screen are odd. At the very least, they are not intuitive or discoverable easily. But it’s a simple thing to learn, so I think I can let that go. What I don’t understand is the idea of dragging off the screen onto the screen again to remove the sidebars. That is very unintuitive. You would think that dragging the bar off the screen would be how this would work.

A lot of the UI seems to be designed around showing you a full screen of something, but even the most immediate actions are hidden behind an extra layer of gestures. example: maps and entering a location. browser and navigating to a website. This is a bad mistake.

The touch cover is nice. It does not accidentally register inputs and behaved without surprises. I would like one of these for my ipad.

The kickstand is useful, although I suspect it adds to the weight of the tablet unnecessarily. Why not make it a strong hollowed structure or something that isn’t a totally solid metal rectangle? I noticed folks were flipping the kickstand open and supporting the weight of the tablet with their hand gripping under the kickstand. Nice and I like it. I’d like something like this on the iPad as well, although it is not sexy.

The screen resolution was not as bothersome as I thought it might be. I didn’t really notice it while I was playing with the tablet.

Verdict: no cigar. This doesn’t bring anything new to the table for me. If I was obsessed with ms office or typing heavily from the surface, it might. But I’m not.  The Intel version of this will be a lot more interesting … and hopefully by then they will have refined the software more as well.

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