Surface Daily and Dear Microsoft

Microsoft's Surface RT has been in my household over almost three weeks. With almost daily use this tablet has become my go to tablet. On my impressions post I mentioned that first gen devices are never perfect. Surface is not perfect, but I have come to appreciate many aspects of Windows 8 RT. I want to cover some of quirks in the OS that bug me. Then, I will talk about things I really enjoy. 

Needs Improvement 

Low Battery Notification

I was working and a low battery notification popped up warning me of 6% battery life left. A minute later the tablet shut itself down. It has happened twice. The second time it warned me, it lasted about three minutes more. Still, it should warn me more than five minutes before the tablet shuts down. 

On Waking the Device

The Typecover does not always turn the device on. About 30 percent of the time, I open the cover and the tablet is still sleeping. I do not understand what stops it from waking. Not a big deal, but this should not be a problem.

Ambient Sensor

The screen does not adjust to ambient light. This is more of a personal nitpick.

Volume Rocker

The volume rocker feels lose. I can move it side to side. It is not sturdy. It always responds, but does not feel solid.

On the Browser

The browser has tabs. Each tab can be seen as a small rectangle box. These tabs can not be rearranged. They need to have that functionality. Also, there needs to be an easier way to switch tabs. Currently, I have to swipe either down or up to see the tabs. Then, I have to select one. A gesture would be nice.

The browser works well about 90% of the time. However, it can not handle Squarespace's blog editor. Which is a big let down for me. IE, really needs to be up to par with modern browsers. It is very close. UPDATE: as of today Squarespace started working on Windows 8 RT Internet Explorer. It works in desktop and metro. 

On the Charger

The Charger magnet strength is too weak. It can be awkward to make the charger connect. 

Office

Microsoft's Office is a great addition to Surface. But, it is made from a trackpad or mouse. Even the OneNote touch app still is not a good app for the finger. Office performs great with the typecover. But, I really would like a "metro-ized" version for each application. My fingers are too large for "mouse context" menus. I debated where to place Office. Because, it works fine with the a keyboard and mouse. But, as a dual purpose machine, tablet and laptop. Office needs to work in both spaces. It does not. 

Niceness

Overall the tablet has really grown on me. When I first noted my impressions I talked about what category this device fits in. It does have some growing up left. But, it definitely is something different. At work I keep the keyboard on and type with it. But, I hardly use the trackpad. I navigate via touch. It feels normal and comfortable to me. Windows 8 RT truly makes sense on this tablet.

On Gestures

The gestures are now ingrained. Swiping in from the right, I get my settings. It allows me to search, view wifi, share, view devices, and hit Home. Swiping in from the left switches my apps. It also lets me side load any application. I often catch myself trying to do these when on my Macbook or iMac.  

WiFI

Wifi reception has proved to be better than my other devices. Galaxy Nexus, HP touchpad, and Macbook. This came in handy while in Mexico.

Apps

The Apps are coming. There are many more apps than three weeks ago. I can only compare this to the WebOs app store. This store is definitely filling up faster. I am waiting for a some apps Asana, Squarespace, Chrome, and turntable.fm. 

Music

Music App next to IE

Music App next to IE

Using it as a music jukebox is amazing. This is because of the Xbox music app. I honestly, love having the streaming music app. Music reigns over me. Throughout the workday I have the radio playing. It helps me maintain focus. 

Typecover

Typecover is a great keyboard. I used the keyboard to work while in Mexico. This past week, my Macbook has started to fail constantly. So, I took the Surface to work. It performed very well. I used it for three days. I am looking for an external monitor to hook it up with. 

USB

USB port has come in handy. I like to copy files to an external HD. This is an easy task with a dedicated USB port. 

On the Desktop App

Sometimes, I go into desktop mode, mostly out of curiosity  As if something new and different is awaiting me. I click and suddenly the grid is gone and im in "Windows." It is not jarring, but it is different. It makes me feel like the little tablet can preform like a regular ol' PC. It cant really besides running Office and IE. I have no ill feelings about the inclusion of Desktop. I like it.

UI Design

My favorite part of Windows 8. The app design.

I found that the design of everything makes me feel good. Hulu and Netflix look and respond great. I have used their apps on several other ecosystems. The Windows 8 versions have been my favorite. I love that they are responsive apps. When I sideload next to another app, they alter their design to fit the narrow area. Most apps respond well to being sideloaded. Everything has been more consistant than I expected in regards to UI. 

You can see the Epicurious app is sharing the screen with the Music app.

Epicurious App next to music

Epicurious App next to music

If I resize the Music app, Epicurious will respond to its new area.

Epicurious and Music Apps responding

Epicurious and Music Apps responding

The clean modern UI makes me feel productive. I was scared at first it would feel too cold and sterile. But, it is very much alive. There is one thing that would make this "live" tiles better. I would like tiles to act like widgets in some scenarios. For example, the other day I was glancing at the tiles. Because, I like watching them go through information. The news tile popped with with an interesting headline. So I open the app, and the headline was nowhere to be found. I would like to the power to select that headline from the app itself. This would make "live" tiles much more alive.

Lastly

I do use it about 50/50 in as a tablet and as a laptop. Some days I work with the typecover all day. Other days, I sit back and watch movies. I really like to treat it like a multimedia device, almost like a Chumby. I will put it next to my iMac and stream music from it. I will check weather, social networks, and email on it. It works nice as a companion device. 

As a laptop Surface has not let me down. I use Insightly and Google Docs while at work. Both web applications work fine. We communicate with through Gtalk and that works perfect as well. My day to day is business development. I am pretty confident Surface could handle all my daily tasks at work. 

At the end of the day, I still use my iMac at home the most for productive work. I like having Adobe CS, Ableton Live, my entire music library, and a big screen. With that said, I definitely enjoy using Surface as a portable computer. It does not weigh much and it feels nice to carry around with the type cover. I feel like im just carrying around a Moleskin notebook. I will keep posting updates as I see fit on Surface.


I would like to take time and address Microsoft.

You guys have created something unique. We are witnessing the evolution of the tablet, screen dominated maleable machines. Tablets should have a place in every situation. New devices born today, need nurturing. They need third party support, and constant updating from their parents. I ask you to be a great parent to Surface. Don't let it fall like the Zune. The Xbox 360 has received great attention throughout the years. If I invested in Surface RT. I want to know it will be supported and cared for. 

So what do you say? Will you make sure this device can live a long and healthy life? Will it still receive support after a next generation is born? If you guys think Surface is a new era of Microsoft prove it. 

Victor Peña

PS. I look forward to Surface RT Pro. I would love to use Ableton Live on it.