I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the RT model and as a CS teacher, Raspberry Pi enthusiast and educationalist
I felt that my experience may be helpful to others in making the selection of a suitable mobile device to augment learning.
Key points are,
1. It has a USB 3 port, enough said.
2. The touch screen is accurate, fluid and responsive, even when using software and desktop windows. It has a great
3. The Surface feels robust, light but tough. The coating is protective and adds to the solid feel of the device. Yet it is not heavy. It does feel natural in your hand.
4. The landscape orientation of the screen complements the Desktop / Metro interfaces.
5. The magnetic keyboard attachment is precise and feels natural in use. The keys are responsive and the hotkeys are a bonus that add direct control via the keyboard. It also saves the screen from greasy fingerprints.
6. The keyboard doubles as a cover and case. This makes the Surface feel protected, no need for screen guards.
7. The on-screen keyboard is ergonomic; it doesn’t swallow up the whole of the screen and yet still displays all the keys and symbols you require. Shifting between Caps and functions is achieved through the minimum number of clicks.
8. The kickstand is genius; it will support the device standing in both portrait and landscape positions. The angle of the device when upright is just right.
9. There is a Micro SD card reader
10. There is a Mini HD output, great for sharing you device on a larger screen.
1. There are no issues with Flash… enough said.
2. It boots up in about 27 seconds, from cold, from sleep it is about 2 seconds.
3. The Metro Tiles at first look plain, a rectangular of colour. However, the true benefit is seen when you receive an email or Tweet and the Tile displays a summary of the incoming communication without having to open the app. The SkyDrive Tile displays the name of the last file uploaded, The Twitter tile displays incoming tweets and so on.
4. Surface comes with a pre-installed Office 2013 bundle, Word, Powerpoint, Excel and One Note. These respond fluidly to touch and are smart and intuitive. Users can import pictures directly from the web, rather than the traditional, right click, copy, paste. All files can be shared directly with your cloud storage.
5. You can view and work on two apps or software on the same screen. Read email while watching YouTube, browsing the Internet and creating a Word document. A quick swipe to the left maximises the app, a swipe again and it returns to the split screen
6. Closing the apps is different, but not wrong, There are no five finger hand grab and snatch hand movements, this took a while to get used to but, once learnt are very simple to use.
7. There are a number of ways to do a task, for example closing an app. This can be annoying for those who want a single method to control the device however, it offers the user flexibility.
8. The app store is currently limited; there are a selection of games, utilities and software but nothing striking yet.
9. Many reviews comment on the lack of an off button. You can add one to the start screen but to be honest, it is such a useful device why would you ever want to turn it off?
The biggest frustration is that the Windows RT architecture will not support all software. This comment is not without a sense of irony. It is like buying a car with a 1.0 litre engine and saying that it struggles above 80mph, or buying a pair of size 5 shoes and they don’t fit your size 10 feet.
This is where the Surface PRO will come into its own.