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.

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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

    SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

    Guru Careers: Business Analyst / Digital Business Analyst

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Analyst / Digital Bus...

    Guru Careers: Business Development Manager / Sales

    £30 - 40k (£65k Y1 OTE Uncapped): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Deve...

    Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

    Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before