05
Dec
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For the last few weeks, I’ve had the fortuitous opportunity to spend some time with the Microsoft Surface RT. I have a few thoughts I’d like to share about that experience.

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Productivity (Office vs. Drive)

Drive / document editing and creation at large on Android sucks. Office on the Surface RT blows it away. Not even close. Office RT still has its quirks, but Microsoft continues to show that it dominates the spreadsheet and document ecosystem for a reason: it’s had nearly 30 years of experience perfecting it. Google Docs is a middling product whose only real strength is real-time collaboration / sharing. Microsoft is well on its way to emulating this, and frankly, once it manages to hone that concept, I see no reason to care about Google Docs (or Drive – whatever you want to call it).

Update: I totally understand that productivity is not simple a matter of Office - this section would probably have been better served with a different title - so I added a parenthetical to indicate the focus on Office vs. Drive (Google Docs). Sorry for the broad strokes!

Browsing

IE10 makes Chrome for Android look like a toy. It renders more quickly, scrolls much more smoothly, and generally is quicker (tab switching needs serious work). It simply makes for a better browsing experience than what you get on Android. Again, because it brings basically the entirety of the desktop browsing experience with it (especially if you're using it in desktop - not not-Metro - mode), like Office RT brings the desktop productivity experience. At no point does IE10 feel like a "gimped" product. Can't say the same for Chrome on Android.

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Yo dawg, I heard you liked windows.

Multitasking

Android multitasking has refined itself over time, but Windows RT uses the same multitasking solution found in Windows 8. And it’s better. Windows was designed from day one to be a multitasking operating system. Android was designed to be highly modal. It’s kind a of a “duh” victory for RT here.

Speed

Windows 8 RT can go from super smooth and blazing fast to annoyingly laggy and unresponsive so quickly it makes me feel bipolar. One moment I’m in awe, another I’m furiously tapping at the screen wanting to throw the Surface out the window. Android is just far more consistent in terms of performance.

App Ecosystem

Windows RT still has a pretty meager app selection, though there are already a number of very high quality apps available. Cocktail Flow (also on Android), for example, is gorgeous. Hulu Plus works pretty well. Netflix is decent. Epicurious’ app, unlike Android, doesn’t make me want to self-harm. It’s hard to say how quickly the app selection will grow at this point, but if Microsoft’s dev tools allowing x86 / ARM cross-compatibility are as robust as we’ve been told, I’m optimistic that quality Windows 8 touch-friendly apps will eclipse Android ones fairly quickly.

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Gaming

Ugh. Basically non-existent on Windows 8 RT. Pathetic. Android has a massive advantage here.

UX / UI

I find both Windows and Android pretty natural at this point, and having a Windows desktop on the Surface is powerful for things like multitasking. And a lot of Windows 8 RT’s gesture actions and such are pretty cool – much more slick and visually appealing than Android’s. Some of them are also absurdly frustrating because they're unintuitive, whereas Android is far more straightforward and simple to operate. RT makes you think too often, though once you get used to the weirdness, it generally sticks.

Mixing lifelong Windows users and touch is definitely teaching an old dog new tricks, so there are bound to be growing pains. Android wins for ease of use, but Windows RT wins on presentation and, frankly, innovation.

Hardware

The Surface is too heavy to use as anything but a small laptop. Too thick. Too wide. I tried using it in bed or while sitting in a chair, and it’s just unnatural. I revert to the laptop position with the type cover and kickstand instinctively, and have no desire to use it without the keyboard / mouse crutch.

Separating the Type Cover from my Surface is like ripping the pacifier from an infant's mouth. In a way, that's a positive - the keyboard is a very powerful tool. Which is the total opposite of Android keyboards, which are occasionally useful at best (my Transformer Prime's keyboard dock was really just a stand / battery in disguise). However, it severely limits the Surface's usability as a tablet. You just won't want to wean yourself from the keyboard and trackpad teat - and Windows RT is a total enabler.

That said, I do find myself very naturally mixing touch input and mouse / keyboard on the RT, because the gestures are so great and efficient at navigating the OS. It’s a little weird. I get an anxious impulse to clean my screen a lot because of it – my brain is thinking, on some subconscious level, “Your laptop’s screen is FILTHY! CLEAN IT NOW!” only to have it soiled again 30 seconds later.

Final Thoughts

Right now, Surface is too buggy, expensive, and weird for any normal person to buy it. It’s going to be a total commercial flop. Surface Pro probably will be too (even if I totally want one). But I have zero doubt touch-enabled Windows 8 convertibles and tablaptops (tablets used mostly as small laptops) will catch on. Microsoft has done a hybrid touch / mouse and keyboard OS right. They’ll kill (or become) the Ultrabook. It’s going to take some time to get all the kinks worked out, but I have no doubts about the ecosystem growing around this platform, or the average person’s willingness to live in the Windows 8 world. It’s nice.

Should you, the geeky enthusiast, buy a Surface, though? Hell no. Total waste of $500 ($630 if you want the proper Surface experience). It’s more science experiment than serious tool at this point. Then again, an Android tablet is even less of a serious tool. At least it has a killer Gmail app and lots of games, though – which the Surface does not (yet).

In summary, if you don’t have a Nexus 7, get one - it's a far better tablet (that is to say, casual consumption / entertainment device) than the RT. But don’t be surprised if a year or two from now a small Windows 8 (RT or otherwise) touch-enabled tablatop starts to look appealing for actually getting things done.

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Note: This is a modified, lengthier version of a post I wrote on my personal blog (if you should so desire, you can find it on my Twitter feed).

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • FrillArtist

    HUGE conflict of interest going on here which David Ruddock will not admit.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Do tell me about this "conflict of interest."

      • http://www.facebook.com/glazzi Leon A-z

        You tried really hard to find goods things about Android running in tablets... As a Transformer Primer owner, I know that that list of things is really short...

        Anyway, I think that the whole idea of writing this post, blows away the "conflict of interests"...

        • UniBroW

          IDK what you mean about Android running on tablets. I have been less then happy with my Infinity but it's not because of the OS, it's because Asus chose to use crappy internal memory.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            I feel the same way about the TF300, the Prime, and other ASUS tablets from this year. Except for the N7. I do use it quite a bit.

            Then again, it's far from practical, ideal, or productive. But I do still appreciate it, especially with a new baby. Light, touch devices are a goldmine compared to tablets right now.

          • UniBroW

            I like browsing on my tab, looking at power points on it in the class I'm taking and playing the occasional game and using it for emailing and messaging.

            It's nice to have while at work or especially when I'm sitting on the couch unwinding after working all day. I just wish that Asus would have not cheaped out on the internal memory is all.

            Also, didn't think I'd like it but totally digging they hybrid ui by running Paranoid Android rom. Now if they could implement the swipe down for notifications while in apps like touchwiz in stock Jelly Bean, that would would seal the deal for me

            Sent from my Asus Infinity

    • gladgura

      Not really, it shows that the Android Police team is open minded and thinking objectively.

    • Chronus719

      The title clearly articulates that it is an impression of Surface from an Android enthusiast's point of view. Pray, tell me what conflict of interest exists keeping in mind the title of the article.

    • http://twitter.com/kway4204 Kyle Way

      Dude... the name of the article is "Three Weeks With The Surface: An ANDROID Perspective on The Windows Slate," it's sort of implied that this will be a biased article.

      He was up front with the fact that he would be writing this from and Android fan's perspective so I fail to see your point.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I have no idea what you're talking about, but my guess is you think we're not allowed to have opinions or check out competing products.

      In that case, I say to you: seriously?

    • daguy

      Conflict of interest? What in the world are you talking about?

  • http://twitter.com/brandonb927 Brandon Brown

    I'm confused... I thought the RT didn't have a "desktop mode" :S

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Yep, definitely does.

      • http://twitter.com/brandonb927 Brandon Brown

        So it's only limitation is because it is ARM, it doesn't run x86 programs and has a desktop interface? The desktop mode is pointless then..

    • ERIFNOMI

      It can't run "desktop apps" as in x86 architecture apps, but it does still have a desktop. You need the desktop to do any file management at the very least.

    • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

      It does, but it's limited in what programs it can run. Out of the box it only runs IE and Office.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        Well, and explorer, and control panel, etc.

        • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

          Oh true, my bad.

      • http://twitter.com/brandonb927 Brandon Brown

        IMO it is pointless then :

  • woj_tek

    oh god... 7" is far to small for me, plus - I don't do *any* gaiming on mobile (and probably tablet neither) so... I should buy it? ;P

    • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

      It depends on if you want a tablet for productivity or leisure. I use my tablet (nexus 7...which i find to be the perfect size) mainly for browsing, reading, social media, etc and rarely for anything productive. For that I move to my desktop so I can do work quickly and efficiently. If you want something like a laptop to use on the go, I think the Surface has real potential, but is not something I would want to use on the couch, bed, or to quickly look something up.

      We have a Surface in my office, and my brief use with it aligns closely with David's thoughts in this post.

      • woj_tek

        well, i rarely use my phone for 'leisure' ;-) for my 'desktop' I use 17" laptop attached to 24" lcd but on the go it's not that handy and I imagine being able to do some work on the go (bus/train/plane, limited space) on surface (pro) would be awesome :)

        • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

          Yeah, those 17" guys aren't the most convenient for taking places. A pro would be sweet in combination with a touch cover as an ultraportable laptop of sorts.

          • woj_tek

            that's the idea, plus option to plug mouse and second display = sweet combo.

  • gladgura

    Technically the Microsoft Surface RT runs Windows RT not Windows 8. The Surface Pro will have Windows 8 on it because it runs on the x86 architecture.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Windows RT is Windows 8 in ARM flavor. I admit I play fast and loose with the naming.

      • gladgura

        Microsoft wants to separate the two to alleviate confusion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cristi.istrate Cristi Istrate

    If is better for productivity, internet, app are better, why you don't make the switch. The android was buggy also for first 2-3 versions, even now is still little buggy.

  • Stefan Eckhardt

    Oh, please! Just because Chrome exists on Android, it is not like every other browser ceased to do so. Chrome is slow, buggy, laggy and the number one complaint of e.g. Nexus 10 reviews. But why oh why does every reviewer insist on just using Chrome?

    Check again with Dolphin, Opera, Boat or whatever. I know stock is gone on newer devices, no clue what got into Google to do that, but even that is relatively easy to get with root. And it is just about the best of the bunch, all of them better than Chrome. I begin to hate it, are you listening, Google? Unsuck Chrome NAO!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      It doesn't matter - no browser on Android is that great. They all get terribly slow on complex pages, especially when it comes to typing in text fields. Chrome is probably the most innovative and individually developed ones of them all that is not just based on utilizing built-in WebViews, and it is closest to its desktop counterpart, so it makes sense that @rdr0b11:disqus used it as an example here.

      • defred34

        Thank you for admitting so much. At least you're not a fanboy in my opinion anymore. :)

        • Mike Smith

          Everyone person on this sight is a Fanboy. We all love android. So this term is getting to be quite annoying and immature. Sorry, but it is true.

          • coversnails

            A fanboy isn't someone who loves something, its a person who loves something and won't hear a bad word said about it and believes it is perfect and wont listen to rational arguements about its faults

      • http://flavors.me/sabret00the sabret00the

        You're ignoring Firefox which is without a doubt the best browser available for Android.

        • ScottColbert

          Haahaahaa! Oh, you were serious...

          • http://flavors.me/sabret00the sabret00the

            Ah, you must be one of those guys that hasn't used it since the switch from XUL. Outdated views are outdated.

          • guiss

            The performance of Firefox in a tablet is much better than Google Chrome, much more smooth and adapted.

      • Stylus_XL

        "It doesn't matter - no browser on Android is that great. They all get terribly slow on complex pages, especially when it comes to typing in text fields."

        LOL?! Dude, that's a colossal exaggeration. Dolphin slows down occasionally for me on some cluttered sites (*cough* Android Police *cough*) but never to the extent that you seem to be suggesting. Chrome is the only Android browser I've used which lags so regularly to the point of irritation. Firefox, Boat and Dolphin perform much better. It amazes me that Google aren't even embarrassed by this.

        • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

          More props to dolphin. I keep trying the stock browser, chrome and firefox, but keep coming back. In any case, I'll admit that it's not quite as nice to use as Chrome on Windows.

      • nsnsmj

        I think the stock/AOSP Android browser is actually among the top 3 mobile browsers out there. It's insanely fast, plus it has quick controls, which makes navigating even quicker.

        To say that no Android browser is that great is straight up BS.

      • Luis Augusto Fretes Cuevas

        A applaud this level of objectivity guys, you say it like it is, despite this being Android Police (we love Android, that doesn't mean there's flaws and things other platforms do better).

    • tookieboy

      Didn't Google announce a major update to Chrome for Android that is in the works?

    • PeterIsemann

      Chrome for Android is 6 versions behind, I guess the are preparing it for primetime now and did a major rehaul. If you have a look at the bugtracker (http://goo.gl/d46jB) you can see that all open bugs for milestone 24 are fixed. They will release it in the coming days/weeks and keep it up to date as they do with chrome for windows/mac/linux/OS. I have not the slightest clue what they will bring, but it will be massive in term of speed and stability since they took their time. <3 When-its-done-companies <3

    • daguy

      The bigger issue I have android tablet browsers is that websites (like this one) don't bother differentiating between tablets and smartphones, and just serve up their terrible mobile site. They are bad enough on smartphones, but blown up on a 7 or 10" device... ugh.

      I suspect that windows 8 tablets don't have this issue.

      On that note, Android Police, I'm begging you to stop serving the mobile site to Android tablets.

      • Sherman J. Buster

        A while ago, a web designer could have used the screen size of the browser to tell it which version of the website to show, now we have phones that have the same resolution as my desktop, so that way is out. Obviously, website can check if mobile, using several different methods, however there is no way to check if the device in question is a tablet or a phone.

        • Imparus

          You can set it up to give the mobile version if the screen of the unit is under x inch ex
          If screen<6 inch serve mobile site.

          • ssj4Gogeta

            AFAIK you can't get physical size from JavaScript, only resolution.

          • Imparus

            You might be right, haven't done any coding related to websites in a while, so I remembered it as having a method to to see the screen pixel and diagonal size when visiting.

          • mint lea

            if client use javascript :)
            I turn off js 90% of time when browsing mobile

        • daguy

          The user agent string is different between phones and tablets. You can tell it's a phone because it has the token "Mobile" in the UA. Tablets don't have that.

          It's trivial to tell. And in the even that some OEM has customized their browser and forgotten to include the "mobile" token in their user agent string, then just serve them up the desktop site. Let it to that OEM to fix.

          Source: I'm a software/web developer.

      • Jacob Pope

        I think that is going to be fixed soon, they mentioned they are doing a responsive design as their next iteration of the site.

        Edit: And this has more to do with user agent sniffing (which is a bad practise) then anything.

      • bobbutts

        Spoof your useragent

    • Matthew Fry

      Actually, I have had less frustrations with the chrome browser experience on the N10 than any other mobile browser. It's quite fast. It just so happens to trigger the system wide crash bug that plagues all of 4.2.

  • mesmorino

    Finally, someone tells the truth about Google Drive

    • Dominic Powell

      get someone on a brand new computer to edit a spreadsheet oh wait... pony up $199.99 first. Google docs is behind Office for sure but it is FREE. You don't have to pay. look at the improvement in docs after just a year, for free software... 90% of people don't use office for much more than a simple spreadsheet or a simple word doc. which google docs can handle for FREE, not to mention every single solitary month it is updated and adds new features, some useful like commenting on cells, some arbitrary like adding infinite font support. etc.

      • amazingMic

        You can use MS Office in the Cloud for free too. At least with skydrive.

        • Dave

          The free version of skydrive's excel has less functionality than the precursor of Docs/Drive. You can't highlight the whole table, move charts to their own sheets, prevail while dragging to select large arrays. Drive just obliterates the free skydive.

          • enoch861

            Have you tried the new redesigned Office Live? Absolutely blows Docs/Drive out of the water. The biggest problem I still have with Docs/Drive is Fidelity especially with complex documents that have images and tables and that has caused me to cease using it.

      • GrzegorzWidla

        Office is FREE with Microsoft Surface and other RT devices.
        FREE as in FREE. It's included with Windows license that is included in the price of the device. Office is $199 but Surface RT + Office is $499. So if you need Office, it's definitely a good deal.
        So how do you compare free Office 2013 with Google Docs?

      • Lucas Laws

        Got a student discount on Office Ultimate. $30. I haven't really used it since I finished school though.

      • Oliver Petruzel

        Perhaps you're unaware that the Windows Surface RT ships with a FREE version of MS Office as well? And that it too will be updated on a regular basis? Hell, the MS Windows OS as a whole is changing to an annual major-update schedule similar to iOS and Android! Try to keep up...

        • Dominic Powell

          Will the updates be free? And i was unaware of that. I know they are going to a normalize release schedule with the OS, but they are going to charge for it. Are they going to charge for the updates to office? I will hedge my bets on yes.

          • http://joop.kiefte.eu/ Joop Kiefte

            On Windows RT, no, it's a free version of Office Home and Student that belongs to the device, and gets updated for free on it

        • http://thierry.andriamirado.netsika.net/ Thierry Andriamirado

          "Free" version of MS Office? Nah! I'm sure they included Office's price when they calculated the tablet's price. Let's say it's a less expensive version of MS Office ^^

          • Oliver Petruzel

            Perhaps they did calculate some of the price based on MS Office being included -- then again, they still managed to hit the $500 pricepoint that is the standard for current-gen 10" tablets, so it's very disingenuous to consider it as an added cost. No matter how you look at it, it's a default app. Did new iPads suddenly get cheaper when they removed their official YouTube app? Did they get more expensive when they added Siri? No, they didn't. It was simply one less, or one more, default app. In the case of Surface RT, the MS Office apps that are included are simply default apps... so yes, they're arguably FREE. They are also the single biggest reason to even buy an RT! lol

      • lewishnl

        Just to be clear, Office sucks. Whatever anyone says, its a bloated piece of shit. Need a text/document editor, use a TEX editor of some kind like Lyx for Linux, need a more visual software, use something like Illustrator or InDesign, they were all designed for their purpose, Word, however, sucks. Just like most Microsoft products, it's bloated with too many options all of which are basically a second way of doing something else and which make it a P.I.T.A. to use. I know that I haven't mentioned Android here, and that is simply because anyone that really believes that you can do real work on Windows RT or Android is wrong. You can't both are too underpowered. If you really want a portable work machine, get a Macbook Air or Macbook Pro Retina, they are amazing for portable work, they are expensive but work. Please, oh please though, don't use a Windows 8 PC, its a compromised piece of shit.

        Why Windows sucks - Registry, 20GB install (For fucks sake, seriously, in the age where most linux distros still fit on a 700MB CD and even OS X takes up only a few GB, Microsoft is still wasting space with shit), Bloat (If there's a 20GB install, what is it, does it include useful stuff, no! Name a single piece of useful software bundled with Windows, compare that to the 700MB linux installs!), fragmentation (file system fragments a whole lot, linux and OS X filesystems basically don't...), etc.

        Why Win8 in particular sucks - Horrible gimped combined UI, useless design on desktops/laptops, might kinda work on tablets, but why the fuck is the old desktop still there on the Surface! It can't even run old programs... Still charging for this!? It's an insult.

        Why Powerpoint sucks - See much better cooler alternatives, cite: Prezi, etc.

        Why Excel sucks - Pretty much every other alternative does the job just as well as far as I can understand/see, cite: Google Drive, etc.

        Why Outlook sucks - See a million other better email clients...

        Why Access sucks - See MySQL

        The list goes on.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Genjinaro Genjinaro

    I am considering a Windows 8 Pro Tablet, come Q1 2013, as I want a portable machine I can root future Androids from & manange my iPod Touch 5 with. The Surface RT shoots itself in the foot price-wise because of the RT software & lack luster app selection, if it undercut today's similarly speced tablets, included the keyboard by default & try to absorb adopters that way, I could see it gaining traction but that isn't happening.
    For the Price of the Surface RT & Other RT Tablets, it'd be smarter to Get the Acer Iconia W510 full Windows 8 machine or an proven Android / iPad.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I agree. Pro Windows 8 devices look more appealing. The only drawback, for now, is heft and battery life - Microsoft estimates the Surface Pro will get half the battery life of the RT (so 4-5 hours), which gets amazing battery life. That may be a tough bullet to bite.

      • lewishnl

        Seriously, I don't get it, why the hell would you want to use a tablet as your main device, it sucks at it. I am literally ten times as productive on the lowest cost MacBook Air than any tablet could ever be. Sure I could use a bluetooth keyboard but what sense does that make, I could pretty much carry a MacBook Air and a tablet for the same weight and with the laptop tablet combo I'd probably still get a better productivity experience than any setup could ever provide... Why!?

        I want a tablet that is the perfect size for portability, magazines, books, movies, music and that kinda relaxing recreational stuff and I want a super slim light laptop for productivity that can handle anything I through at it, the Surface RT and Pro both suck at everything, they are truly compromised products (note: Admittedly I am a complete Microsoft basher...)

        • Oliver Petruzel

          The Surface Pro sucks? Are you in a beta-testing program that the rest of us don't know about?I'm glad that you've swallowed Apple's "koolaid" to the point that you believe a separate expensive device is required for each individual situation, but I think you're going to find that's not true in the future... ESPECIALLY once intel perfects their WyGiG or WiDi wireless transmission of audio/video! (which will make "docking" the devices a completely wireless affair!)You were certainly right about one thing, though... you really don't get it!Me personally? I'll gladly pay for a single device that can do it all! The Surface Pro: Tablet? check. Laptop? Check. Desktop? Check.

          • lewishnl

            Your wrong. I don't think that I need a million devices, but the truth is that ATM I need two chipsets, one ARM and one Intel. ARM sucks for high power situations and battery life with Intel sucks for low power situations (so you usually get massive bulky battery's to compensate: Surface Pro). So if anyone makes a computer with a tablet element with an Intel chip and an SSD and then creates a dock for it with an Intel chip and a HDD (optional) and doesn't try to lump the same shitty tablet OS onto my laptop (tablet UIs suck on laptops, I don't want a touch laptop, they suck, their inefficient...) I'll probably buy one. Kinda seems a lot like a MacBook Air/iPad crossover, but I'd happily buy an Android/Ubuntu crossover or any other options, key thing really has to be to try to make browsing and other key experiences shift seamlessly from tablet UI to desktop UI (no, IE 10 doesn't do that, try going from desktop to modern...)

  • Andrew Loiacono

    Comparing desktop browsing to mobile browsing again.. sigh

    • http://twitter.com/kway4204 Kyle Way

      Why shouldn't they? Isn't the goal to get Mobile browsing on the same level as the desktop experience?

      • Mike Larrabee

        Obviously, this is the goal. Still, I think it's unfair to compare desktop anything that runs on an Intel chip, which is significantly more powerful and power hungry, to anything that runs on an ARM-based SOC.

        • tony

          WinRT and SurfaceRT are ARM based, not x86.

        • http://www.facebook.com/chrmorrison Christian Morrison

          What? The Surface RT is ARM based. The Surface PRO which is coming soon is intel based.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Elrando.the.Wonderhorse Matthew Gardner

          Surface is ARM. Snapdragon S4 Pro I believe. The Surface Pro will be x86, but this is ARM.

          • Alan Tucker

            Surface RT is ARM based, It uses Nvidia Tegra 3.

        • enoch861

          Are you forgetting? The RT runs on an ARM chip, specifically the Tegra 3. So the comparison is absolutely fair.

        • ElfirBFG

          Don't worry, I knew you were referring to the comparison of the ARM-based Surface to x86-based desktops. People are so quick to correct, when in reality they just need to comprehend.

    • peterfares

      Surface isn't a desktop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaelgonzalez2012 Michael Gonzalez

    I would wait for the Surface Pro which CAN run all your desktop Windows 8 apps. Windows RT is not at all compatible with your current desktop apps, and thus imo isn't worth the time. It's MS's first real attempt at this so I would wait until the ecosystem grows a bit. With the Surface PRO you will be able to run true productivity software such as Visual Studio, 3D Studio Max, Maya, Photoshop, Dreamweaver etc. Basically it will be able to do everything your current Windows laptop can do, the advantage will be that it also can be a tablet.

    • defred34

      Whats the purpose of running desktop apps optimized for the pointer of a mouse on a tablet? That is just dumb...

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1262814853 Michael Schiele

        One word and a number. Starcraft 2.

      • Oliver Petruzel

        It's called "choice" and having a device that is flexible in any given situation. On the go? Use touch-based apps and your fingers. At home and/or near a table? Use the keyboard and a bluetooth mouse. Remember the primary reason most of us switched to Android all those years ago? Oh yeah, choice...

      • Alan Tucker

        Except the Surface Pro is compatible with the Touch and Type covers for the Surface RT.

      • http://www.facebook.com/michaelgonzalez2012 Michael Gonzalez

        If its accuracy you are concerned with you can use a stylus pen. As for functionality with a S-Pen you can do everything you could on a normal version of the app. There would just be another button mapped for the right mouse button. In some cases you can actually work faster with the pen than you could a mouse.

  • HellG

    Productivity
    -If you think Productivity = using office then you just have fallen for M$ Hype if one program make that much deference for you then its really..SAD!
    Browsing
    -And that's damn fine we have something called choice, dont like Chrome? np android is modular just get dolphin or any other 3rd party apps
    Multitasking
    -Its once again sad that you failed to realize that Window RT is windows Phone made for bigger screens with a "Desktop UI" with my computer and some icons to give you the feeling its a real windows experince when irl its not, nor RT or Phone have true multitasking only Windows 8 does and again for you if switching apps faster means better multitasking then this is just bad

    App Ecosystem
    -Cant say anything about this indeed tablet optimized apps are low but they are getting better

    UX / UI
    -Again android is modular need gestures download a 3rd party launcher and you are good to go

    You have some really good points but some are really weird coming from such a great android police editor like you which should simply..know better!
    Good article though, good job :)

    • ERIFNOMI

      I just want to point out the problems with your first and last points.

      Productivity certainly can be more than just office software, but that doesn't mean office software isn't productive. In terms of office software, which falls under productivity, there's really no beating Microsoft Office. The Android equivalents can't hold a candle to Microsoft Office.

      UI/UX has more to do with just a launcher. The overall navigation scheme of the OS needs to be taken into consideration. Android has the nav bar, and to some extent the notification bar, for navigation throughout the OS. Windows 8, however, uses gesture based navigation which frees up a bit more screen space at the cost of a bit of a learning curve.

      • Imparus

        "In terms of office software, which falls under productivity, there's really no beating Microsoft Office."

        Could you be a bit more specific, at the moment I'm avoiding using office since it is terrible for indexing/agendas, calculations, and long reports, which makes it terrible to use for my studying :-/

        • ERIFNOMI

          It works great for my school work, particularly excel. Perhaps you haven't learned the "ins and outs" of Microsoft Office. Or maybe it's not conducive to your area of study or way of thinking. Different people learn better using different techniques after all.

    • hot_spare

      Totally agree on the office comment. It's so weird when someone assumes that just having office will make you productive. Yes, I agree that it might work better compared to other alternatives in the market. But that's all. One suddenly doesn't become productive just by using office.

      • enoch861

        Actually, depending on what documents your working on, it will suddenly make you productive. The biggest problem with all the Office apps on Android is that they have a big issue with fidelity. And if you work a lot with complex documents, Office is a no brainer and will make you instantly more productive than on an Android tablet. That coupled with the fact that mulittasking is that much better on Windows 8.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        I agree that titling that header "productivity" wasn't a good call. Changed it to Productivity (Office vs. Drive) to specify, as I only discuss a pretty specific subset of productivity. Thanks for the feedback.

      • overandout

        A lot of people's work documents are created and edited in Microsoft Office, particularly if you work at a big company. Although you can open and theoretically edit such documents in online alternatives, it's still clunky.

    • Zacharylinde1996

      I for one welcome our new surface overlords. I think this will prove to be a great showdown between android and windows, forcing android to improve at a faster rate, if only slightly.

      I think the big confusion in this crowd is understanding who the target audience of each platform is. Android stands for integrating the casual customer to technology and adapting to those needs. Microsoft is directed more toward the professional standard, whether that be in terms of games (PC games, I mean) or office software

    • Alan

      I have to disagree with the multitasking comment, Windows RT IS Windows 8 but is specifically for ARM devices, therefore it shares the same "true multitasking" as Windows 8.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Totally agree that titling that header "productivity" wasn't a good call. Changed it to Productivity (Office vs. Drive) to specify, as I only discuss a pretty specific subset of productivity. Thanks for the feedback.

  • defred34

    Correction: It's not called WIn8 RT...just Win RT.
    Also, games are NOT non-existent...they already have some OK games...Hydro Thunder Hurricane is like a massive-er version of RIptide GP from Vector Unit.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Windows RT is Windows 8 in ARM flavor. I know what it's called, but Microsoft's naming is stupid. It's Windows 8 RT, they just won't call it that.

      • defred34

        Ok, I won't get trivial...but RT and 8 are not one and the same. They look similar, yes....but then you might as well call WIndows Phone 8 as Windows 8 Phone by your incorrect logic.

        • http://twitter.com/Ravengenocide Christoffer Holmgren

          Which would make a lot of sense.

      • daguy

        No, it's not, and the two OSs are more different than you seem to believe. RT is more of a subset of Windows 8, as it doesn't implement a lot of libraries and APIs that the x86 version does.

        It's not just Windows 8, recompiled for ARM.

      • lewishnl

        I guess in the same way that Ubuntu for ARM is an Ubuntu flavour for ARM chipsets, but as others have pointed out, the different chipset optimised OSes can be very different. David, out of interest, you seem to love the Surface, what do you really like about it? (Notice: I hate Microsoft a lot, so be prepared for a long response...)

  • defred34

    Reading through the whole thing, you seem to be countering your own points at numerous intersections.
    Personally, I agree with your assertion that an Android 10-inch tablet is better than the SUrface because the Surface is just TOO wide for me, making it unwieldy.

    Update: Anyway, kudos for looking at competing products. I use an iPad as well (Android is primary device) and would love you guys to objectively look at the iPad 4 in terms of gaming and pure horsepower. Seriously, it blows any Android thing out there in that respect!

    • Matthew Fry

      Most 10" Android tablets are 16:9. Same size.

      • defred34

        Nonsense. Android tabs are usually 16:10, and they are 10.1-inch (compared to the Surface's 10.6). So it is considerably wider in fact!

  • Mario

    Isn't being free another thing google docs (or drive) has going for it? Although, I do think that this will finally allow MS to take back some of the business it lost to the ipad. If you're able to use all the MS Office tools intuitively on the surface then businesses will be more inclined to use it versus the ipad.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Well, Office is free on all RT devices.

  • Bill Collier

    I must say, I was attracted, thanks for the heads up.

  • defred34

    One thing that will bring all of hell and heaven to its knees is that if Android gets native multi window support just like in the GNote 2. Contrary to your "dumb" review of the phone here, I've used it for a few days IRL and it kicks some ass. That would make Android so much more productive...and really, who wants to use a full-fledged Office while in tablet mode anyway when you can have simpler things like Office Suite etc (I know these lack so many features, but come on on a mobile device ya not gonna be needing a full Office...lest you attach a keyboard that is).

  • defred34

    Sorry for spam posting...I'm just excited.
    One thing that I really hate about the apps on Win RT is that they have a strict guideline to adhere too...and not much can be done. They all seem restricted in some way or another. This is the real reason why I won't get a RT tab compared to an Android tab or iPad.

  • Robin Kanters

    A lot of apps on Android suck, and it really isn't necessary. If all developers would spend LITERALLY 10 SECONDS upgrading their apps to the Holo style, Android would be a much better place. Unfortunately, apps like Facebook and Spotify are still using the Froyo/Gingerbread UI/UX, and it almost makes my cry when I'm using them. (There is light at the end of the tunnel though: the Facebook Messenger app has upgraded (finally)!)

    • Nevi_me

      Though the literally 10 second part is a major understatement

    • tony

      It takes way more than 10 seconds to update to the holo style.

    • Matthew Fry

      Yes, it frustrates you but consider the large population of gingerbread users. To get to the most users with the least amount of headache you go for the lowest common denominator. If the mass majority of users were on ICS or higher, I imagine app developers would have more motivation. As it is though, you either try an interface that sorta looks like both or you create and maintain 2 different UIs. Those are sucky options.

  • marcusmaximus04

    "Android multitasking has refined itself over time, but Windows RT uses the same multitasking solution found in Windows 8."

    I think it bears mentioning that the latter is only true for an incredibly small subset of built-in applications. You can't now and ostensibly never will be able to run, say, angry birds in a window on the desktop.

    • dave

      The comments about multitasking were a major flag that something strange is going on. One of the foremost usability experts in the world tested Windows 8 in a real study, and absolutely trashed it based on the abhorrent multi-tasking. Metro is designed to look good in a marketing campaign, not to be productive.

      • peterfares

        How is Metro any worse than Android for productivity? The simple fact is you can run two apps side-by-side on Windows RT and you can't on Android.

        • lewishnl

          Right, so a desktop OS (note Windows 8 is for desktops and it runs almost the exact same UI as RT) primarily runs only one Window. They really should rename it Window. Moreover, it makes changing applications difficult and the gestures are horrible... (IMHO, although I have only used Win8 on desktops and laptops...)

          • peterfares

            The gestures work great on touch screens. You just slide in from the left and put it where you want it (left/right side of screen, or center to take the whole screen). It takes a few seconds to get used to, but it's really easy to do. If you want to see all the running apps, you just move your finger in from the left side of the screen and then go back off the screen, it's a very quick gesture and brings up the list of running metro apps. Then you grab the one you want and place it where you want, or just tap it to replace the current active metro app. It's far better than the Android tablet UI which is just a scaled up version of their phone UI.

          • lewishnl

            Will never give a company that thinks a ~16GB standard install size is ok my money. You shouldn't either...

          • peterfares

            Lol ok bro. It has a microSD slot and you can free up 4GB by moving the recovery partition to a $3 USB drive. I don't care for RT (or any ARM) tablets and won't be buying one, but if I really had to choose a 10" ARM tablet it would probably be the Surface.

          • lewishnl

            Your playing excuses here...

          • peterfares

            A 64GB microSD card costs $60 on Amazon, seen it for as little as $40 on sale.

          • lewishnl

            You don't understand do you. It's not that I desperately need the GBs, I don't but it's what those GBs actually are that bothers me. One of the best rules to live by in life is to keep all of your work reduced the minimal size required to convey the meaning required, the size of Windows in comparison to it's competitors suggests that Microsoft hasn't cut a single line of code from it since they started writing it... I mean 20GB is enough to store like 20 HD films, thats a ton of code (you'd know this if you've ever written any...). This waste causes serious damage, because frankly, we know that Windows doesn't come with any pre-bundled apps, which means that during regular use, a lot of that 20GB is going to be used, wasting CPU time and quite literally costing you money. The fact that RT which doesn't even have any backwards compatibility and basically runs most of it's apps in a web browser still requires 16GB is super depressing. Seriously, Microsoft needs to learn when to start again. Anyway, any of the millions of angry Windows users, your saviour is here: Ubuntu. It runs on everything, for free, with no 20GB installs, with useful pre-loaded apps, with a large app selection (though admittedly not as wide a selection as Windows) and you'll never have to clean up a registry, never have to defragment (at least for almost all linux users that is the case) and never have to go searching everywhere for apps and updates, enter Ubuntu Software Centre.

          • peterfares

            LOL you have no idea how computers work. I have 8TB of videos on my computer and over 100GB of installed programs and games. Does that mean they're wasting power when I'm not accessing them? No. 16GB is nothing these days, why do you really care? All that stuff is in their to maintain compatibility and make everything easier on the developers. And a HUGE chuck of that 16GB is probably drivers for devices. Windows RT supports a ton of USB devices out of the box. Drivers take a lot of space and are not running and wasting CPU cycles when their device isn't plugged in.

            Clean up registry? Run defregs? When was the last time you used Windows? 2000? I haven't done any of that crap since XP came out. Windows RT also has one central location for software, so I don't see why you're saying that Ubuntu is so much better when it has the same shit and they're not even competitors.

          • lewishnl

            Right, so Microsoft is wasting my space with compatibility shit (it is shit because backwards compatible stuff is always worse, again cite: I code!). Moreover, when stupid developers use it, I get a crap experience because I'm running on old tech. Leaving in backwards compatibility is therefore actually making my experience worse. Drivers. I call bulshit, Windows fails to include the drivers for almost every printer that I've ever used, Linux, almost always worked plug-and-play... (Any computer can support a usb drive, mouse or keyboard, name a single other driver included?) Yes, so I have to waste my time/processor cycles/money on cleaning a pointless registry that bloats my system and screws me over. Defrags - same pointless piece of shit. I use XP and 7 daily, 8 on occasion... I haven't really touched Windows 2000... Defrags and registry cleaning are essential to maintain system performance in Windows, ask any good power user. Yes, so they have a central location for software with a ridiculously tiny selection. The truth is that installing and updating apps on Ubuntu, Android, iOS and now to some extent OS X is easier than on Windows... Seriously move to a platform that doesn't keep backwards compatibility, it just makes developers lazy and your experience crap.

          • peterfares

            "Defrags and registry cleaning are essential to maintain system performance in Windows, ask any good power user."

            This is enough to tell me that you have no idea what you're doing. Any GOOD power use knows that the built in defrag takes care of everything and that registry cleaners are a waste of time and may actually cause problems.

            I have Windows 8 on my tablet PC and it is excellent. I'm not an idiot, though, so maybe that's why it works well for me?

          • lewishnl

            Ok, I'm not going to argue for defrags, it is true windows does it automatically nowadays (still wasting cycles), but maintaing the registry is really important, so many applications leave behind crap when you delete them, its really terrible... Commonly known as one of Windows' biggest faults...

          • peterfares

            No, you're not supposed to run registry cleaners. You're just not supposed to. If this was required functionality, it would have been included in Windows by now, everything else including AV is.

          • lewishnl

            ... everything else is ... SLOW ... I give up ... you're just annoying me now ... I know that I am right and that's all that I need...

          • peterfares

            LOL you continue to do that. Don't research it by googling it quickly. Nope. You're right. Go ahead and run your 3rd party registry cleaners and defrag utilities and get angry at Windows even though it's you're fault you're wasting your time "maintaining" it when it maintains itself.

        • Gage Eakins

          You cannot run apps side by side, you can run one app in this little tiny spot on the side, I don't know why this was chose, when Windows 7 does aero snap. aero snap is actually what Windows 8 should do, but in metro mode, it does not.

          • peterfares

            Way to reply to a 7 month old comment bro.

            And you ALSO reply complaining about this feature when it is about to be changed to let you select whatever split ratio you want in the 8.1 update being released in a month.

            Either way, before and after the 8.1 update it is a feature that Android does not have. Android blows on tablets.

    • ssj4Gogeta

      Thank you, I didn't know about AIDE.

      • marcusmaximus04

        Sure. There's also stuff like CCTools and C4droid if you want to do c/c++ development. I use the former for ndk development.

  • esdi

    Stop trying to make taplaptop happen.

    • ElfirBFG

      I miss my old XP Tablet. )= I don't miss that it was Finepoint and not Wacom, or that it was a Gateway, but a 'tablatop' with both touch and Wacom support would be my ideal 'computer'.

  • Chahk Noir

    We need a better name than "tablaptops". "Blaptops"?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Blapflop gets my vote.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.krepelka.1 Dan Křepelka

    why so much bashing... i have the opportunity to compare ipad3, surface RT and galaxy note 10.1.

    Surface RT has some bugs... and i wouldnt recommend it to anyone who doesnt wanna experiment a little bit. But even with the price tag, i love the device. Office is better than anything else on the market so far.. so productivity = yep. Battery life aswell. Im a college student and it suits my needs perfectly.

    Note 10.1 = plastic, ugly, but it has android = best OS in my oppinion. Battery life sucks though, dock is weird.. it is very good for content consuming and fun in general..

    ipad3 = best battery life, best consuming, best gaming and browsing experience.. expensive as sh** though and youre supporting gay patent trolls by buying this one...

    I dont know whether RT is future, it really depends on how many quality apps will appear (personally i use browser for anything else - fb,.. which is better to use than the official android app by the way).. maybe, maybe not.. Win 8 tablets (PRO and stuff...) arent gonna be tablets at all.. its gonna be whole new segment.. and i think it just might work

    • http://twitter.com/Darkmyth_pt Darkmyth PT

      awesome response friend made my day :)

  • aiden9

    I don't see the Surface Pro being all that much better.

    Really going to spend $899 for a 64gb Surface pro? At $1,020 for the Surface pro+dock it would be going up against ultra books with much better battery life and higher built in storage. Heck you could even get something like Asus' Vivobook for nearly half the price(if you just have to have a touchscreen). It just seems like a solution looking for a problem.

  • Christopher Saylor

    What a confusing review. First of all change the title, you're evaluating the MS Surface, put it in the title. By saying the "perspective on the Microsoft Slate" you're confusing people that this is a review for the Samsung Slate convertible laptop running Win8, which shows me you did not do your homework before this review.

    Here is what really confuses me about the review, by your own categories.

    Productivity: Awesome
    Browsing: Awesome
    Multitasking: Awesome
    Speed: Meh (Inconsistent)
    Apps: Meh (non-robust selections, but top end there)
    Gaming: Bad
    UI: Good
    Hardware (which you really only covered form factor?) : Bad

    Conclusion: "Right now, Surface is too buggy, expensive, and weird for any normal person to buy it. It’s going to be a total commercial flop. "

    In general I'm completely confused by your review. You leave us with this terrible overall impression while in the review are basically telling us its a great system with a couple concerns and some limitations subbing in for a laptop. Your conclusion not mirroring your actual review makes for a very poor article, and I frankly think you could do better. To me this was a very poorly done review for AP to post.

    • defred34

      Agreed, like a drunk guy looking at a product at 4am and then writing a quick blog post in a inebriated state of mind.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      It's not a review. The fact that I picked a few interesting (mostly positive) aspects of it piecemeal - and explained them very briefly - should have been a pretty big alert to that. This isn't meant to give you product advice or be some major evaluation. It isn't a feature showdown or an in-depth comparison of operating systems.

      The final section is merely what I think of Surface's chances in the marketplace, not whether or not I believe it's a good product. That said, I think it is a good product. I think it's also going to be a total failure. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      As to the title, it has "Surface" in it. I don't think "Three Weeks With The Surface" is at all ambiguous as to the topic of this post.

  • http://twitter.com/PCSievers P.C. Sievers

    I am curious to see if Android can close the gap to Win 8 in its deficiencies before it is truly forced to by market forces, specifically will it come up with a true multitasking solution such as Samsung is trying only baked into the OS pushed out to all manufacturers and will Android truly get great photoshop and office apps similar to paint.net and open office which will cover the productivity needs of a ridiculously high number of users.

    Samsung, bless them for throwing ideas at a wall and seeing what sticks, is definitely moving in the right direction on making Android productive with the Note products but it just isnt quite there yet and is balanced out by their own deficiencies.

  • jm9843

    Task switching (the actual act) is MUCH better on Android and I think that it makes it nearly as good as Windows 8 multitasking since it's so important. Microsoft attempted something similar with the app thumbnails on the left side of the screen. But it requires a weird and wonky gesture to bring up that is less efficient/intuitive as Android's task switching button in the system bar and Microsoft's implementation doesn't scroll. On second thought, maybe it does? I don't think I've ever had that many Metro apps running at once (because there's not that many worth using).

    That said, Google has to bring something similar to Windows 8's multi-app split view to Android 5 for large screen devices (e.g. Nexus 10).

  • Billy Kent

    ok, I have to comment on the browser also, you stated "IE10 makes Chrome for Android look like a toy" but then you list all the issues that IE has...that Chrome does not. I'm confused as to how that makes Chrome look like a toy?

  • NotBruno

    uh, Chrome for me is fine, I've no problem with Chrome

  • Asphyx

    The success of this platform won't be seen in the RT version of this concept.

    First off RT forces you to get software from the MS Store only, Works for Android but not folks who already have a ton of software for thier desktops that they will want to use.

    Second People really want desktop experience on a unit like this. It's possible as procs are getting better all the time and the only limitation is ram and power requirements.

    The Market for this is very different from the Android folks this will be mostly a business product not something the casual user will flock to.

    And if MS had even half a brain in thier head they would work the cloud on this better so that your tablet was merely an extention of your desktop without user intervention.

    All of your documents, files even programs would be automatically available to both via some sort of cloud pairing of units. Install Photshop on the desktop and it's available on the surface as well.

    But they are so insistent on selling you multiple per unit licenses that they will never take that route which would really make this the unit of the future.
    The Privacy of the cloud data being on YOUR computer not someone else's is the way we should be going.

  • DeadSOL

    Well, Windows always gets better. We NEEEEEEED Windows. Android is for phones and tablets. Windows is the real deal when it comes to laptops and PCs.

    The thing is, Microsoft have been working on it for decades! They know their way around PCs and laptops (tablets too, by extension). If Google put their entire effort towards an Android ecosystem (currently, they have limited people working on Android), they can do wonders! :)

    • lewishnl

      I call bullshit and here's my evidence:

      8 - ~20
      RT - ~16

      Figured out what those numbers are?

      • Oliver Petruzel

        The size of the OS in GB?

        • lewishnl

          Congratulations! That is why I will never pay for Microsoft Windows ever again... (BTW, XP is actually in some ways still superior to all later Windows editions, it's install was only ~1GB which is fine with me, but these insane size installs just show how Vista and later versions of Windows are completely bloated...)

          • DeadSOL

            I've got 1 TB of space. Doesn't matter. ;)

  • lewishnl

    Am I the only one that would use Google Drive/Docs just as happily as Office. To me, Office is a bloated piece of shit with far too many repetitive options that takes away from writing and makes this more difficult and horrible. I do think that maybe Drive/Docs is a little under-featured to what I would like (I normally use Lyx on my desktop), but the online sharing and collaboration work makes it a really good piece of software for working with others and it helps keep to the most important design principle of all KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) which no Microsoft software ever does...

  • Alan

    I disagree with the weight, thickness and width comments. It weighs 1.5lbs which isn't much really, even compared to some Android Tablets Surface is light. It's 9.3mm thick, again, compared to some Android Tablets, it's thin. As for the width you do realise it's a 720p 16:9 display, what were you expecting?

    Before you all call me an "M$ Fanboy" or "M$ Shill" I do own a Galaxy Nexus as well as a Microsoft Surface so I'm just pointing out why I disagree.

    • Matthew Fry

      I was a little confused too as battery life at the cost of extra heft is a common request.

  • deltatux

    No problems with productivity software on Android, I use OfficePro when I have no Internet connection and I solely rely on Google Drive. Google Drive is an amazing note-taker. Tablets aren't the type of devices I want to write reports in (maybe drafts but not final copies of a report).

    Hell, I ditched my laptop when I got comfortable with my tablet for school purposes. I just finalize a report or research paper on my desktop after I write drafts on my tablet or reading notes I've taken on it.

    I have the ASUS Transformer Pad Prime and I love it. Vivotab RT might be the Windows RT cousin, but other than the fact it has a full Office system, my Android tablet has a lot more that's better than Windows RT.

  • PhilNelwyn

    Wow, Microsoft has been spending a lot on Android bloggers lately... :P

  • arrow2010

    Surface RT is an abysmal failure and Ballmer should be fired.

  • izzy

    the review was like this is great this is superior. then the final thoughts are this is too buggy and will be a commercial flop. what?

    • Mike

      Yeah pretty much par for the course with Ruddock.

  • jamaall

    I use chrome on my RAZR M and nexus 7. I would have to say that it simply just takes too much processing power to use it. My RAZR M is much better with chrome with the snapdragon s4 compared to my nexus 7 with a lower quality tegra 3. Browsing with the nexus 7 on sites like AP is very laggy

  • grellanl

    One of the things I've noticed so far about Windows 8 on a tablet (though I haven't used a Surface, I'm using full-blown Windows 8 on a tablet) is just how much it resembles Android in many ways - they've emulated a lot of the same concepts. And that's no accident, but what surprises me is how nobody's pointing it out.

    One of the ways is the implementation of multitasking - there's really no case for WinRT over Android in terms of multitasking, they approach it very much alike, even if visually they are dissimilar. And as an aside - I've found the case for x86 Windows (i.e. the desktop environment and "legacy" apps) on a tablet is limited right now - the tablet CPU/GPU just isn't powerful enough to run my games/other stuff that requires compatibility. Which means you're going to stick with the RT/Metro environment, and therefore might as well go with ARM for the lighter device and longer battery life.

    Anyway, Plex has now come out for WinRT (for ARM, x86 and x64) -- and for me that instantly boosts the usefulness of the tablet by 100%. And if you actually use the Plex app, and the Netflix app, and a couple of others, it's clear that there's some lessons Android can take from the new Windows UI - they're fast, smooth and unfussy, and clearly designed with a tablet in mind. And with regard to productivity and decent use of a mouse/keyboard, there's no competition. Now that Android has gone in the other direction, with even the full-size tablet UI turning into a blown-up phone UI, I can't see that changing soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bella.pease.75 Bella Pease

    A decent, balanced review. Come on guys don't hate, we need to keep up the constructive pressure on Google in the areas where they're not up to speed.

    Chrome Android sucks balls in its current guise, but it is due a major update according to Google and is being upstreamed in the open-source Chromium project, after which Google will have the most updated browser of any eco-system, as it will mirror the releases, although not all the features of the desktop version.

    Lastly isn't Microsoft releasing Office for Android in the near future?, it may not be the best, but you must admit that it is the most popular office tool, and is hard to avoid, especially Excel.

  • missinginput

    Keyboard on the transformer also brings some much needed ports, it plus the dock mean you have every input you could need

    • http://www.skyledavis.com/ S. Kyle Davis

      I agree. That's why I like tablets like the Acer W510 or Samsung SmartPC over the Surface. I like the keyboard cover, but it's nice to have additional inputs and an extra battery. Of course, to be fair, the Surface has a full (not micro) USB port on it, so it's less of an issue.

  • Kevin M Combes

    Windows 8 is why I got an ATIV Smart PC Pro to replace my Xoom. My Nexus 7 will remain in use when I want something light. While the ATIV brings desktop power, it also brings desktop drawbacks... and after a month long delay in actually *getting* the thing, it's currently in for service because the BIOS utility bricked it. But for the mere hours that I had it in use, it was a beautiful device.

    • http://www.skyledavis.com/ S. Kyle Davis

      This is a great combination. Who says you have to pick Android or Windows 8? Windows 8 laptop replacement and an Android tablet for causal use. I like!

  • Jass Hugh

    Microsoft & Android > Apple

  • http://profiles.google.com/danielm.nc Daniel Marcus

    Comparing Windows 8 and Android is interesting, but it misses some fundamental differences between the two operating systems. First, there are several office suites available for Android. I use Google Drive for some things, and I use a more complete office suite like Kingsoft Office at other times. Of course, many Android products are made to function on phones as well as tablets, so we are only just now beginning to see products that have really tablet oriented modes. As for browsers, Chrome is still new to Android, and Google is making plenty of updates. That said, it already has one thing going for it that IE does not; it *works*. I mean, the way that web developers want it to. While not evident for everyone, IE still has poor support for new standards, and is a pain to support. While Chrome has some ways to go, there are also plenty of other browser options for Android, many of which share the same benefits you saw in IE on RT. Of course, one has to ask; what IS Windows RT? Here, you're pitting it against Android. I would say that there is no way to compare something that began as an OS for phones with tiny screens and no keyboards to something that was built for full computers and has been the dominant OS in the market for years. It seems obvious that Windows RT will have such a wealth of content, such a consistent and well recognized user interface, heck; it has *windows*. Yet, how much of that actually applies to Windows RT? Better yet, when it comes to multi-tasking, I have found Windows 8 to be, well, Windows. If you consistently close apps you're not using, you'll do fine, but Windows still lacks the excellent automatic task management that Android has. For a tablet, Microsoft has made a barely adequate entry into a market while Android continues to advance at a breakneck speed. My question is not when will Windows 8 catch up to Android, but rather, when Android starts maturing on the Desktop, how long can Microsoft last?

  • Rick Fisher

    I like my surface. I use it much more than my transformer and while it's a little too pricey to fully recommend to friends, if you can afford it, it's the greatest ultrabook replacement/lounging tablet. I can't use it as a laptop much because of the lack of numberpad and I don't like to bring my mouse around with me and the touchpad isn't great (I use excel a lot for work) but it's nice to quickly edit things or play around online. Totally agree on games though, I wish they'd get on that. What few games they have seem very not-optimized for ARM, I mean even minesweeper has issues! I like the gestures though, swiping down to close an app is something that I've grown to love and now I'm constantly swiping down on my phone when I'm done with an app just to have the notification bar drop. I think I prefer notifications, but it's still something I can't separate from the platforms and love about windows rt.

  • http://www.skyledavis.com/ S. Kyle Davis

    I would be interested to read a similar comparison review of an Acer Iconia W510 to a 10.1" android tablet. The price point seems much more reasonable to me (it's $499 as well) because it runs full Windows 8. The two major benefits of the Acer W510 over the Surface would negate two of the major concerns this article presents. First, the Acer is a much better tablet than the Surface. It's smaller and lighter, while still being thin. The W510 is a 10.1" tablet, and having used larger tablets (I haven't personally played with a Surface yet), I very much prefer the form factor. In fact, the Acer is a bit narrower (width) than some 10.1" tablets and that subtle change makes a difference even compared to other 10.1" tablets. It also runs full Windows 8, meaning you can run games on it, etc. Of course, really processor-intensive games won't run on its Atom processor, but you can run games of comparable complexity to Android. In fact, if you download the Bluestacks beta (I haven't tried this, so I'm going off of others reports), you can run any Android app on the Acer (it's a Win32 app, so it won't run on the Surface).

    So yeah, I'd be interested to read the comparison. Of course, battery usage is going to be much better on an Android tablet, but the Acer still gets 9 hours of continual use, which means I can charge mine every couple days.

  • cpc464freak

    Um Office is an App written in native code, GDocs is basically an interpreted script running through a browser interpreter. They should never have been compared for functionality or performance... a very naive article.

  • http://tribalstylemarketing.com/blog TribalStyleMarketing

    Couldn't have said it better myself! I also had the pleasure of reviewing a Windows 8 Desktop OS my family just got...atrocious! It was so confusing & of course there are no updates for it so our printer won't even work with it right now. Rest of PC's are still running 7 & XP, rock solid!

    Like you said, they make you think too much to try & find stuff. It won't last in my view because people want simple, fast, & durable performance. Windows 8 or Windows 8 RT does not do any of those.

  • Joe_HTH

    "The Surface is too heavy to use as anything but a small laptop. Too thick."

    ROTFLMAO! What an idiot. The Surface RT is thinner than the iPad 4, and about the same weight dumbass. It's a 10" tablet, not a cheap piece of shit 7" Android tablet.

    Your summation is bullshit too. There's nothing buggy about it, especially if you updated the damn thing like you should have. It wipes the floor with an Android tablet. It can't print, it can use practically any USB peripheral, it can run Office, etc.