A week with the Microsoft Surface: A versatile tile - but is it really worth £500?

 

Specifications

Processsor: 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU.

Storage: 32GB (£399 for just the tablet and £479.00 with cover) and 64GB (£559.00 with cover), plus up to an extra 64GB on an SD and another 64GB on a micro SD card and the option of extra storage on a USB.

What else: It comes with 2GB of RAM, Wi-Fi and a device detector so it can sync with your phone and other devices such as tablets and game consoles. It has Bluetooth 4.0. The anti-glare, 10.6 inch, 366x768 pixel “ClearType” touchscreen offers clear, sharp images. It has cameras on both back and front of the tablet.

What is it?

It's Microsoft's answer to the iPad or Nexus 10 tablet, but less sleek and more robust. It's a double whammy of crazy new tech. Not only is it a tablet/laptop hybrid, it's a showcase for Windows 8, Microsoft's radical new operating system.

Does it work?

It's versatile; like a tablet but with a kickstand and clip-on keyboard, so it can be used like a laptop. It also lets you switch between the new Windows 8 modern user interface and the traditional Windows 7 style desktop depending on your preferred style of working.

Pros: The Windows 8 format tries to demonstrate a totally new way of working where personalisation is king. So you can pin all the apps, shortcuts and media that are relevant to you straight to the home screen. The "share" button is available with one swipe of the tablet – and gives you the option of sharing anything through email, Facebook or Twitter with just one touch. The magnetised cover is sturdy and took a lot of flinging around before it fell off.

Cons: Microsoft's Bing, unsurprisingly, is the default search engine and Internet Explorer is the default browser, which is hard, but not impossible, to change. The Windows Marketplace is bare and the combination of keyboard and touchscreen isn't as intuitive as you might hope. For example, I tried to select an arrival time in Transport for London's journey planner and it thought I wanted to copy and paste the info. Frustrating.

How does it work?

The keyboard cover is really clever. It's just like a normal durable cover, similar to Apple's £39 iPad Smart Case, but it's made of a strong but light magnesium alloy and it also houses a keyboard. The stylish flat "Touch" keyboard, with keys that don't depress, only takes a few days of jabbing too hard before you feel you can trust it to respond to your commands with a gentle press. If you have trouble with the 3mm thick "Touch" cover, there's also a "Type" option which has pressable keys like a conventional keyboard and it isn't that much thicker at just 5mm. The downside is both the covers/keyboards cost extra; from around £80-£110, available in a range of colours.

Is it worth the money?

At around £500, you're forking out the same amount as for a conventional laptop and if you need it for traditional desktop work on the go, then a laptop will be more comfortable to use. If, however, you want a tablet but occasionally need to type documents, it could be for you. You also need to be happy with a radical new layout – there's a steep learning curve with Windows 8. Also, bear in mind the new Surface Pro is due this month.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Guru Careers: Software Tester / QA Engineer

    £23 - 28k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Tester / QA Engineer is n...

    Guru Careers: C# Project Team Lead

    £55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...

    Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

    £16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine