Please see my previous post on why I am talking about the Surface RT so close to the release of Surface 2.
In the past week, I used my beloved Surface more while at work then at home. I bought a case from the Microsoft Store. The Golla Sydney 11-Inch Dark Blue Slim Sleeve looks great and couldn't be happier. It holds the Surface, a USB powered Qimini wireless charger for my Lumia 925, my Bose earphones and a cleaning cloth. It also holds one more item that I picked up last week, the AT&T Beam. The dongle provides LTE access anytime, anywhere and is powered via USB. It gives me the flexibility I need, and compliments the Surface perfectly.
Device: Surface RT 32GB running Windows 8*
If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me why I have a Surface! Multiple co-workers said they were interested but the reviews were so bad they stayed away. I took every opportunity I could to explain why I love mine. Multitasking, screen size, flexibility, and apps. I was usually working on emails, or reviewing PDFs and Word documents. However, I would show them how easily I could pin Tweetro+ or Nokia Music+ next to my work. They loved it as much as I did. Once I learned to just leave my apps running, loading/resuming times were significantly cut. Multitasking was usually quick and responsive. Battery life gets better and better, and even with the LTE dongle connected, I easily get 2-3 days usage.
Adding LTE in the mix allowed me to use any application and protocols, while not being limited to what my company’s IT Security opens up over Wifi. TeamViewer and Splashtop 2 worked flawlessly. Splashtop 2 allows me to stream audio and video from my Mac at home. Yes, I can watch any movie stored on my home network, on my Surface RT. The AT&T Beam supports Windows RT, but not 100%. Windows 7 is needed to install firmware updates. Also, if you want to use the dongle as a mobile hotspot so others can join in, you need Windows 7. Not Windows 8 x86, but Windows 7. The initial connection time is about 20-seconds. However, it resumes a connection in split seconds after the screen wakes back up from sleep. Being powered via USB means I never have to charge it. I think I would love having LTE built-in, but this works today on any Windows 7/8/RT machine.
Applications can still be… interesting. The same issues I found on Windows Phone 8, I find here. An application will work fine for a few days, then become almost useless. For example, InstaPic seemed like the perfect way to follow my Instagram feed. A couple days in, it refused to load my timeline, but reported no error. Piktr is now working fine, loading my timeline instantly on launch. However Piktr used to be just as troublesome as InstaPic is for me today. I feel like developers fix one problem, but only uncover more bugs. Hyper is a great YouTube app, but not all videos play nicely. Nine times out of ten there is no problem. But that oddball video has me keeping MetroTube installed as well. Twitter scrolls poorly, and Tweetro+ doesn’t keep in sync with Rowi via TweetMarker as well as I would like. I don't blame the devs here, I assume APIs and OS support is lacking compared to iOS and Android.
I’m still enjoying the Surface. I am interested to get my hands on both Windows 8.1 and the Surface 2. Hardware wise, the speed improvements and screen resolution will be nice to haves. Also, I think a Touch Cover 2 or Type Cover 2 will be a really nice addition. However, I do find typing directly on the screen to be better on the Surface that on any other tablet. The live tiles make me feel like I am using something cool, and usually provide useful data and encouragement to dive into an app. If not, they at least look good. For me, turning on a Surface give me a “let’s do this” feeling. In my experience, “this” is just about everything I need it to be.
* I am still running Windows 8 as the 8.1 Preview has ended and Microsoft won’t let me download it.