Every once in a while, I get a new “toy.” I don’t get one very often, as my money goes towards real life places like bills and food, but occasionally I get a nifty gift, or I have a chance to treat myself. This item sits squarely in the “gift” category, as it’s something I wouldn’t be able to purchase for myself, but it was something that was sitting in the back of my mind as something I wished I had for blogging and social media.
I find a laptop fairly cumbersome to lug around with me, especially when I’m at a con. Even my little HP Elitebook laptop gets heavy on the ninth hour of the third day of GenCon. So, I have been curious about tablets. I was essentially looking for something with enough screen space where the on-screen keyboard wasn’t too small for my sausage fingers so I could type blog posts and thoughts on the fly. This kind of knocked out any of the inexpensive tablets, like the Nook or the Kindle Fire. Most Android tablets were too small, as was the iPad Mini. Plus, since I wasn’t looking for anything to run a lot of apps like Angry Birds, Candy Crush, or FourSquare, that was not a big issue for me. Another major thing is: I have no brand loyalty. I have an HTC Evo as a personal phone, an iPhone 4S for work, all of my computers are a PC. My music players for a few years were the Zune Music Players, until the HD died on my 120 gig one, and I can’t replace it. I’m not a PC or Mac person, I’m a Give Me What Works person. However, due to pricing vs. screen real estate, I was honestly leaning towards an iPad.
A few weeks ago, I was out to dinner with my folks, and this discussion came up. Well, I assume they had just returned from a good trip to Vegas, because they asked if a tablet was what I wanted for my birthday gift, despite the fact my birthday isn’t until the end of May. Well, since con season is coming up, and I wanted to get familiar with whatever I was getting by then, I decided to jump at the chance. So, after finishing dinner, we headed across Rockville Rd. to the Best Buy.
Once there, we went to the PC Section where we were actually helped by a very friendly and knowledgeable associate by the name of Therman. If you ever visit that Best Buy, look for him. Excellent customer service. Anyway, I was looking at the iPads, and the larger Android Tablets, when I finally bit the bullet and looked at the newer Microsoft Surface tablets. You know what? This was what I was looking for! It allows for word processing, I can access my blog on it, it has a large screen with a good keyboard PLUS it has the Type Keyboard that actually has keys that work, instead of a cloth Touch Keyboard. Sure, the 32gb version only actually has about 15gb free, and that’s before I install applications that I want to use, but I’m not using this to store a ton of pictures, movies, or music. Besides, if I needed to, I could get a microSD card to expand the memory, and it does have a USB Port, so I can plug in either a thumb drive or an external hard drive to transfer files. So, with that in mind, we went with the basic Microsoft Surface RT 32gb tablet, with a separate Type Keyboard that was an open box, but tested okay. This ended up being about $5 more than going with the Surface RT with the included Touch Keyboard.
This was purchased on April 6th.
I have been using this tablet for about a month. I’m actually finishing this blog post up on April 23rd, so that should give you an idea of how long I’ve used it. So far, this tablet has done everything that I wanted it to. I have typed up and posted blog entries, like the Follow Friday for Axis Mundi. I have been able to put down thoughts and take notes while waiting in the car, and upload them to Evernote, which helps me remember things I want to do with the blog. I’m able to take a look at the full versions of Facebook and Twitter, since going through IE10 on the tablet, which would normally make me shudder, works better than the applications included, and helps conserve memory.
On a flat surface, the kickstand and the Type Keyboard work beautifully, not missing a keystroke even with my rapid bursts of typing. However, if I wake up in the morning and realize that I forgot to post a link to my blog on Twitter or Facebook, the keyboard doesn’t work as well on a mattress. However, the on screen keyboard works beautifully with these short entries. It is just a touch smaller than the Type Keyboard, and is very responsive as well.
Now, I am going to use the tablet to also entertain myself, and I haven’t had a problem there, either. The screen provides an acceptable picture for me, allowing me to watch Supernatural on Netflix, or banjo tutorials on YouTube. XBox Music still has my history from when it used to be the Zune Marketplace, and remembers all the songs I purchased through there, allowing me to stream Mumford & Sons while I’m cooking dinner. Games are sparse, but I do find it amusing that the Solitaire game that I downloaded actually gives me Achievements on XBox Live. However, it does have an emulator for all of my Super Nintendo ROMs, and it is my understanding that you can plug in an XBox Wired Controller in order to better control the games. It also has Comic readers to read my digital comic books, and the Nook reader so I can read my books, if I so desire.
Now, on the downside, the limited memory does rear it’s ugly head every once in a while. Say I want to load on a movie, a game, and a series of comics, I start having space issues. Once I expand the memory, that won’t be an issue, and it’s a minor annoyance at best, but it’s an annoyance none the less. Also, when on IE10, sometimes the touch screen isn’t very responsive, but I’ve had that issue with my iPhone and my Evo before, so I think it’s just because the touch screen has issues with people who don’t have souls. Finally, at the bottom of the screen is a little Windows logo. That is actually a capacitive “Home” button that brings you back to the main screen. The information on it is underwhelming on the fold out instructions that came with the Surface, and I honestly thought it was defective, and booting back to the home screen, until I read about it on another blog.
Now, would I recommend the tablet to you? Honestly, that depends. Are you looking for what is essentially an inexpensive slim touch screen laptop where you do most of your work “in the cloud?” Then yes, yes I do. Are you looking for a tablet that has a lot of games for you and your family, something to distract the kids in the car, and is lightweight? No, no I would not.
Honestly, Bloggers? Yes. Families and normal people? Probably not.
I’m sure there are many things I have not touched on in here. I’m not a tech reviewer, I just like to talk about stuff. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know, either in the comments or via social media, and I’ll do my best to find out, or let you know my impressions of the Surface in that regard.
I hope you’re having an excellent week!