The kickstand is indeed a unique addition to a tablet of this size, and it’s sturdy and works reasonably well. I do have some niggles with it — particularly the fact that its position can’t be adjusted in any way, meaning you have to like the angle the screen is at and live with it (it was usually too upright in most scenarios I tried it in, but not unusable by any means). The kickstand also has extremely sharp metal edges, which caused it to scratch a couple of wooden surfaces I found myself placing the Surface on. It’s also not very useful on your lap — unless you like to struggle. You could use the kickstand to put the Surface upright in portrait, though it’s not terribly stable, and I wouldn’t trust it to not fall over with the wrong kind of touch.
The Surface looks and feels pretty good when you’re holding it… but it is huge. At 10.81 inches across (in landscape) and 0.37 inches thick, it’s not really that comfortable to hold in landscape for extended periods, and in portrait it’s laughably tall. Trying to hold the device upright to read a book in the Kindle app felt about as ridiculous as taking a picture with a tablet. Maybe more ridiculous, actually. The Surface seems to desperately want to be docked and on a desk or table rather than in your hands or on your lap. After using it for an extended period of time, it’s hard to imagine bedtime reading or casual throw-it-in-a-bag use for this device. It’s nice that Microsoft wanted to retain the 16:9 aspect ratio, but I would have happily traded some of that wide real estate for a more portable, comfortable device. In comparison to a new iPad or Nexus 7, the device seemed bulky, awkward, and just plain heavy.
no 3G or 4G radio options
This sounds awful, even though you know that Topolsky is trying to make it sound good.
The display on the Surface is — as mentioned — a 16:9 screen, which means wide but not very tall. The display uses Microsoft’s ClearType technology, which supposedly produces better looking graphics and typography, even against displays with a much higher resolution (hello new iPad). The colors and blacks on the 10.6-inch screen do look stunning, but all the technology in the world can’t make up for pixels that aren’t there. At the size of the Surface screen, 1366 x 768 resolution leaves much to be desired…
This I don’t get. He takes a stab at the new iPad, but then goes on to basically call the Surface’ display mediocre…
Performance and battery life:
Overall performance on the Surface was a bit hit or miss.
This, again, is Topolsky trying to make it sound nicer than it is. I’ll spare you the details, as you can read them in the source link, but suffice it to say that every single app (1st- and 3rd-party) has crashed at least once, often multiple times, during the review period. That’s just bad.
On the plus side battery life seemed to be on par with the iPad.
The Surface has a way of sensing what position the cover is in using its accelerometer, though I did experience a few glitches where the cover was on the back of the Surface, but still sending chaotic key presses to the device. Luckily this issue was few and far between.
The Type Cover is another story altogether — it’s one of the best portable keyboards I’ve ever used.
I do have two issues with the accessory, however. The first is that it’s a bit uncomfortable to use when it’s wrapped around the back of the device; feeling keys under your fingers is just not reassuring. Secondly, a handful of times I had keys pop up slightly off of their retainer, making for missed presses and the need to realign and replace the key where it should have been.
Oh, not cool…
They have a whole seperate write-up on the software, but just so you know:
There are really only five full applications that can be used in that space — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Internet Explorer. Yes, Notepad and Paint are here as well, but they’re little more than glorified utilities in Windows RT.
The fact that the strongest and most useful (and notably, most responsive) applications are relegated to the old environment gives me pause. Add to that the fact that many of the new apps seem incomplete or buggy — and you’ve got a problem.
One by one, these problems might not seem like a big deal, but together they undermine much of the good work done in RT and the Surface. This product is supposed to represent the future of Windows and Microsoft, so why did I feel so frustrated so often while using it?
Let me put it this way: the Surface does not seem like a better tablet than the iPad or the Nexus 7 (the two best products in the category as of this writing). Even though it has a very unique and useful interface, and lots of hooks into Microsoft’s ecosystem, it still lacks the polish and apps of those two devices. Is the mail client better here than the native mail client on the iPad or Nexus? No. Is the browser superior? Well, it’s an excellent browser, one of the best I’ve ever used on a mobile device — but it’s not wildly better than the iPad or Nexus 7 offerings. Is the interface so much easier to use or so much more powerful that it would tip the hand of an average buyer? Not in my opinion. Is the app selection better or more robust in some way? Not by a long shot, and there’s no clear sign it will be anytime soon.
In the end Topolsky fesses up, because he honestly has no way out of this. Reading between his lines, the bottom line is: This is not it.