Are Surface RT Buyers Still Happy?

Are Surface RT Buyers Still Happy?

It’s been more than a month since Microsoft started selling the Surface RT. That’s enough time for the initial shine to wear off, and time for it to start really mattering. But does it?

Microsoft initially only offered the Surface RT to Australian buyers via its online store; it’s going to be available later in December in selected Australian retail stores. That bit of early strategy means that the early adopters are all likely to have been the most keen proponents of the device and what it’s pitched at.

I’ve tested a Surface RT extensively, including using it as my only computing device for a while, but ultimately found it was too much of a compromise machine for my purposes, especially as it related to on-lap use. It’s not particularly stable with a type or touch cover attached and that irked me, as did the general performance. Sadly, the former is unlikely to change much with the Surface Pro; I suspect my next productivity machine will be a full laptop rather than a Surface. But then again, I didn’t buy the Surface RT; merely used a review model for a while.

A month is long enough for the “new car” smell to have worn off, and the Surface RT should (in theory) be part of your daily routine by now — or, as is sometimes the case with early technology adoption, a good way to gather up all that dust you’ve been wanting to store for a while. I’m curious to find out what the experience has been like for the Lifehacker readers who took the Surface RT plunge. Are you happy with your device, jealous of the upcoming Surface Pro, or something in-between?


          • But that means two SIM cards, two accounts, etc. Wouldn’t it be easier (and, essentially, cheaper) with just one?

          • I have a mobile plan with my work (Work is contracted to Voda), i would like my Tablet to be pre-paid (As its not a work tablet) under Telstras 365 day 12gb yearly option

            May be cheaper, may be easier, but also means draining 2 device quicker than the other not to mention the data preformance

          • good point
            but if your after an ARM powered device. Asus Padfone is a better choice
            phone + tablet and single sim and super long battery

            I personally dont see any benefit in windows RT, only windows 8 Pro

            its only when you get into windows 8 pro terrirtory that you wont have any luck with 3g. Though i believe lenovo’s tablet might have it.

            that being said, if your out in the field surfing the net for more than 4 hours consecutively on a mobile broadband connection, without an AC outlet, maybe some other device with longer battery is probably more suitable

  • Yeah, for me I bought my little TF101 with detachable keyboard for cruising the net in front of the TV at night and a travel entertainment device. The first time I saw that kick stand on the ‘Surface’ and the angle it sits at, plus the flimsy looking touch keyboard I knew this wasn’t going to work for me as a lappy. Rt has issues for me too, what with MS not allowing other Web Browsers on board, Android does why not MS. I don’t like the latest version of IE. I’ll wait for the prices on decent touchcsreen laptops to come down a bit.

    • Im confused, do you actually own a Surface Timmahh?
      Sounds like you bought something else with Win8 on it.
      Judging a Surface (or any tech product) on nothing but pictures doesnt really align with this article is asking.

      Also i believe Win8 RT allows other browsers, just none have released them (AFAIK)

      • From what I understand, other developers are free to make web browsers that run on RT, but due to the way the APIs are designed they will never be able to match IE on performance

        • That isn’t what I’ve read at all. Mozilla are chucking a big fuss in the EU because they “claim” not being able to release a desktop browser will mean they cannot match IE’s performance. There’s no reason an RT app couldn’t be as good or better than IE RT.

          Personally I think the fix for this is for Microsoft to remove the desktop mode alltogether, it’s just confusing for users and creates exactly these issues. Why wouldn’t a dumb user (or dumb mozilla exec) get upset because they think the desktop should be able to do everything it always has been able to do?

          Unfortunately Microsoft can’t kill the desktop mode until they have a full metro office RT and better file management.

      • The TF101 is an Android Tablet. I’ve seen quite a few pictures and adverts, not one shows people using it on their lap. That’s because it’s not designed for it. I’ve also read a few reviews on it and even “Alex” mentions the lap issue. As for browsers Mozilla don’t like it at all and won’t be building one for it any time soon.

        • What tablet can you use on your lap? Because if you can use any other tablet, then all you need to do to Surface is close the kickstand and it will work just as well. I really don’t see why there is any issue at all around this. MS are offering you something no-one else does, that you can use when it suits you and close the rest of the time, and somehow that becomes a negative. It is absolutely ridiculous.

          • WTF are you on about?
            I use my TF101 on my lap! If you were to buy the Surface with keyboard, you should be able to do the same thing! What exactly is the surface offering that you can’t get on a net book or ultrabook? This whole conversation about using the surface on everything else but your lap is ridiculous!!

          • If you buy the right keyboard. Given that the TypeCover is only another $10, I would have thought it would be the one to go with if you plan to use it on your lap. I can’t see how it is MS’s fault if customers are idiots.

          • I’m sorry but I don’t see your point. Your TF101 falls over on a desk if you bump it but I don’t see that as an issue (and I assume you don’t, either). It is what it is, use the kickstand and Typecover when it makes sense, don’t use them when it doesn’t. Just like your Transformer, the whole idea is to offer greater flexibility than just a straight tablet but that doesn’t mean you have to use the whole kit an caboodle in every situation.

          • What exactly is the surface offering that you can’t get on a net book or ultrabook?

            From what I can tell from MotorMouth’s above comment, “MS are offering you something no-one else does…” and that something is – wait for it – a kickstand.


  • People use laptops on their laps???

    I have never found this comfortable or ergonomically feasible, if I don’t have a tabletop of some sort I’ll put my bag on my lap and the ‘puter on top of that

    • I used to do it regularly – on buses/trains and at home. It’s only since moving onto the boat that there really isn’t any situation where I would want to.

  • Found my Surface RT to be crap as a tablet and crap as a laptop. As much as I wanted to love the surface I still would rather a Nexus 7 and a Ultrabook combination. People keep talking about how Office is included and how that is a benifit, but if I am going to have to sit at a desk to use it properly than why not use a laptop that is more comfortable and more efficient. As muh I would love the idea of one machine to do it all the technology is not there yet. Need a 7 inch tablet that is RT only in tablet mode and that can dock to 11-15 inch screen and keyboard when real work needs to be done with additional processing power or something silmilar.

    • Sounds to me like you don’t have a surfaceRT at all, or you just decided to get one even though a 7″ tablet is what you needed – I don’t think that the RT is at fault here.

      • The question isn’t “Is it good?” the question is “Do you like it?” Obviously he doesn’t like it, and you can’t tell him he’s wrong because you disagree.

        • Then so would any other tablet, including Surface. That was my point, Surface is exactly like every other tablet on the market in that regard and will be equally useful in that situation.

          • I’m struggling to work out whether you’re arguing for or against tablets on laps. In any case, the Surface, Acer and Motion models have different geometry with respect to keyboard positioning and usage.

          • Well I certainyl don’t find my Playbook in any way lap-friendly, I can only use it while holding it with one hand or when it is sitting flat on a hard surface. I vould probably manoeuvre myself into a position on teh lounge where I could use it but that is hardly what you’d consider “lap-friendly”, is it? A 10″ tablet might be a little better but I can’t see it being as convenient as a laptop, which I have no problem at all using on my lap.

  • I still love my surface just as much as when I bought it! Because when I bought it i Knew it was a tablet, so therefore I use it as tablet. Not some low spec laptop. Seriously if you think it’s a laptop then your going to hate it.

    As for using the kick stand and touch pad on your lap, That’s just dumb. Collapse the kick stand and remove or flip over the touch cover and use it like a flipping tablet!

    • I also find it useful to fold the touch cover back under and flip out the kickstand to form a triangle. this works well reading in bed on my stomach, i just prop it up on the other side of my pillow.

    • Yes it’s a tablet, but it’s a tablet that comes with a keyboard if you want one, in fact Two kinds! Why the hell would I want to use the on screen Keyboard if I paid for a real world one? So I should disregard the keyboard when I’m sitting on my lounge? what’s the point if it has one? I have an android tablet with a keyboard that actually holds the screen up. Your point is silly, just sayin man!

      • Its a valid point though. The surface is a better tablet without the keyboard – since you dont get all that awkwardness with the keyboard going on. Fair enough – its MS’ ruse to make people think that its a ‘productivity’ tablet just because it has MS Office and ‘comes’ with a keyboard…. too bad it doesnt work that well.

      • It doesn’t *come* with a keyboard, it’s an attachment that you have to pay extra for, and it’s not just a keyboard. it’s a protection cover as well. besides, I think prolonged typing on the couch with anything (laptop, other tablet, surface) is tedious at best. i’d rather use the on screen keyboard then because its more comfortable on any device. In particular the split keyboard designed to be used by two thumbs when holding the device.

      • You and many others have it all backwards. Honestly why would anyone want to sit on their bed or couch or WHEREEVER with anything on their lap while doing serious work? Use the bloody thing as tablet while in your bed and just stop talking about all these new use cases. The next thing you’ll be complaining about is that you have issues using it on the crapper!

      • So because the keyboard is there, you must use it all the time!?! Does that mean you never undock your TF-101? Because if that’s the case, why didn’t you just by a netbook?

  • I still like my surface. It’s so handy and I can do ALMOST everything I’d want to do with it. Unfortunately I am too impatient and want to be able to have full windows functionality so I might palm it off to my parents and go the pro when it comes out. If it wasn’t for the fact that I use my surface as I would a normal laptop, I would be very happy with it. I miss torrents and chrome 🙁

  • I’ve had mine for a month and I love it. I will admit it took me a good week to get used to it. But that was because I had been using an iDevice for so long. I expected everything to work a particular way, and it wouldn’t. Then I realised that the iWay was not necessarily the best way.

    A couple of points

    1. Its a freakin tablet, not a laptop nor a hybrid.
    2. Stop carrying on about how expensive the keyboard is. You can plug in a $10 USB keyboard if you want.
    3. If the kick stand is the wrong angle, so don’t use it.
    4. It has full blown Excel, Word and PowerPoint (minus a macros and VB). This is the killer App.
    5. It has a full browser that will run more than an iDevice.
    6. So it has a desktop mode. Great. !!!

    And MS Marketing department. – Market it as a Tablet for 50 second, showing it doing all of the things that people do on an iPad. Then for the last 10 seconds, click on the pretty keyboard, kick out the stand, launch MS Word and show what an iPad cant do (properly). You have a killer device but you are not letting people know.

  • My Surface is great, I use it almost every night before I go to bed or when I wake up in the morning,

    I have a few games on it and read through some of the news etc on it.

    My only negative is the lack of 3G as its a feature I would preffer however the tethering on my phone seems to be working for now with no real issues

  • I use it every day. As a device it is the tablet I wanted. The next 6 months are going to be critical as apps start to appear, and that is what will make or break it.

  • Still love it, ditched my iPad 3 for it, but then again I make fairly heavy use of OneNote and Word so a tablet that offers proper support is a big plus. I don’t treat it as a laptop, I treat it as a tablet which is what it was aimed at. Not overly pleased with the Touch Cover (I can’t type too well with it, I need the tactile feedback from a keyboard) but apart from that I only wish it had more apps. I considered getting a Surface Pro, but 4 hours battery life would render it absolutely useless for me.

  • Best IT purchase ever for me.
    I always planned to buy PRO, cant wait for it.
    After we have evaluated PRO for a few weeks I will roll out to all my site staff and sell all iPads and upgrade iPhones to WP8, overcomes all the third party business solutions we have issues with on these devices.
    Love having all my devices on windows, its a must for businesses.

  • Still loving it. I never needed a proper laptop but I did need something I could type long emails, blog posts and work documents on as well as browse internet and watch videos. Surface looked like it would fit the niche perfectly and it has so far.

    My mum also got one and if anything she loves it more than me. She doesn’t have a smartphone or a laptop but travels around a lot for work, and it’s become like her mobile office that’s cheaper and lighter than a conventional laptop and the touchscreen works well for her too, drawing notes and diagrams and such more easily than using a mouse. She reckons a few people at the offices she visits have admired it too and asked about where to get one.

  • Interesting read, all the same plus points i’ve found have already been mentioned and not really got anything negative to add so no need to add anything more.

    But can someone explain to me what’s the deal with the fanboys I don’t understand the mentality of ranting on-line trying to find reason’s that whatever you bought is the best thing out. Is it straight out buyers remorse that your a bit peeved that something newer and shinier came out than what you bought or is it some misguided need to do right by the world and make sure they don’t buy the wrong product with out benefiting from your opinion.

    Guy on this comments section seems to be insinuating that it’s a crap device because you can’t use it on your lap with the optional keyboard cover so the Asus transformer is better.

    I actually bought the TF101 when it came out and while it’s a pretty solid device it’s version of convertible didn’t really work in my case, because I wanted a tablet and I would’ve much rather had the USB port on the tablet than on the keyboard dock as the USB port is handy on a tablet but the keyboard for me was pointless because Android is just not designed to be used with a keyboard and mouse in my opinion.

    My kids use an Ipad 2 for games/movies and occasional youtube/web access which works well for them. I switched to a Nexus 7 which I really liked and found myself using more than my phone for “smartphone consumption type tasks” like music/reading etc.

    Having had the surface for a bit over a week it suits my particular usage pattern perfectly. through the day it sits on my desk with the kickstand deployed and keyboard cover on basically acting as a mini third screen doing nothing other than email. After work I’ve been pulling off the keyboard and using as a tablet for catching up the news playing some music or watching some TV etc. And when out of the office in the day it will be tethered to my phone doing it’s normal daily job of handling my email and basic online support connectivity with some occasional RDP.

    Now all of that usage would be almost the exact same with an Asus transformer apart from two main points (amongst some other minor issues) . Firstly it’s a Microsoft OS and Office environment which means when I inevitably need to open an attachment in email it works exactly the same as my desktop dropping back to a windows 8 desktop with word or excel running with zero issues. If your using the device for home use consumption only, this is probably meaningless and your probably better off with an IOS device anyway. The second point is again because it’s Microsoft if I want to play a movie, recorded tv file or music I no longer have to mess around with moving files to a dlna server or any other extra software layers I can just open explorer browse to any of my home shares and play whatever directly over WIFI these two points after never quite getting the perfect setup in IOS or Android are huge for my usage needs. While there were solutions to get somewhere near the same abilities on either IOS or Android they were never as seamless.

    So bottom line if your a windows user I don’t think you can beat Windows RT for what it’s designed for if your a mac user or don’t regularly use a desktop PC I think IOS is the better choice at the moment purely because of the high quality app selection, I actually much prefer the Android OS to IOS but regardless of number the general quality of android App’s is abysmal. For me with a surface so far I can’t think of an App I need/want apart from Spotify.

    My 2c

  • Anyone who finds the Lumia 920 heavy is either a fanboy of some other phone looking for a reason to hate on what is basically the best phone out there, or they’re under 20 years old.

  • I’ve had mine a month now, use it daily and will be keeping it. It will supplant an ASUS netbook running XP. I’m from the dark ages, having started with MS-DOS and stayed with Windows over the decades, mostly because that’s what my employer used. The switch to Windows RT was, for me, anything but smooth. Up until now, the various Windows iterations were more evolutionary. RT marks a major shift and that’s what caused my frustration and aggravation. There were times when I was going to return it, but thanks to an amazing amount of time the store techs spent working with me, gradually I learned (yes, even 70 year-olds can) and have come to appreciate the device and its approach. Learning has been a series of aha! moments, rather than something gradual.

    Is it a perfect tablet? Of course not. There is no such animal and there will never will be. Too much attention has been given to comparisons among the Surface, Apple products and Android devices. These are basically grapefruit versus banana vs pear exercises. I almost drove myself nuts doing this: the comparative search for which was “better”.. Finally, it occurred to me that I had to understand what my needs were and then compare them with what was out there and find the device that came closest to satisfying my needs. In the end, the RT was it, but by saying that I’m not dumping on iOS, Android or anything else.

  • I don’t see my Surface RT as a laptop replacement (I think you’re mad if you do), but rather, an iPad replacement. The clincher was when I went to run a presentation the other day and couldn’t get my laptop VGA output to work. I put a USB stick with my powerpoint presentation in my Surface, launched the pres in powerpoint, and pushed the video out by HDMI. Worked like a charm. I love it.

  • I’ve replaced my laptop for most tasks, my surface is my only day to day machine. A couple of comments re: “on lap” use,
    Fold your keyboard to the back of the device, kick out the kickstand onto the keyboard, and voilà, you can now prop-up your surface on the sharp edge of your keyboard, rest the bottom edge of the device against your body and have a very comfortable, “hands-free” couch computing experience.

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