Surface RT, Microsoft's bid for a 'thing' of its own

Surface RT aims to be the 'next big thing,' solving the puzzle of tablet-based productivity.

By Jon Phillips, PC World |  Consumerization of IT, Microsoft Surface, tablets

The integrated rear kickstand props up the tablet at 22 degrees. That's just the right angle for some viewing positions, but the kickstand is not adjustable, and I often found myself drifting out of the angles sweet spot depending on my table height. Made of the same injection-molded magnesium that's employed throughout the Surface chassis (Microsoft calls the material "VaporMg"), the kickstand opens with a faint metallic ting and closes with a confident click. Both audio cues are satisfyingand they better be, considering that Microsoft specifically engineered the kickstand to not just work but also sound good.

The point of the kickstand, of course, is to turn Surface RT into an effective productivity machine, and to varying degrees that promise is fulfilled via the system's Touch Cover and Type Cover keyboard accessories. Regrettably, neither cover is included in the tablet's entry-level package, but all Surface RT versions are preloaded with a soph-frosh version of Microsoft Office that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, helping users realize the tablet's productivity promise.

At 3mm thick, the Touch Cover lacks physical keys, and instead uses pressure-sensitive touch pads to record keystrokes. The Type Cover features real keys with actual key travel, but extends the thickness to 5.5mm. Can the Touch Cover possibly offer rewarding typing? I answer that question in the section titled "Surface RT as a workstation" below. For now, I can share that the tablet's keyboard docking system is as sweet as Microsoft wants everyone to believe.

You never need to worry about aligning finicky connection points. In fact, you don't even need to look at the tablet and keyboard when snapping them together. Just move them toward each other, and magnetic attraction will attach the two sidesperfectly, every time. The connection interface also provides the data link between tablet and keyboard, and just like the kickstand, it comes with its own mechanical soundtrack that Microsoft expressly designed to push emotional buttons.

The build quality throughout Surface RT is sturdy and confident, and exudes the same kind of austere precision we find in German performance cars. VaporMg is silky to the touch, yet inflexible when torqued. And at 0.37 inch thick and 1.5 pounds, Surface RT is essentially identical to the iPad in thickness and weightthis despite the fact that it supports a slightly larger, 10.6-inch, widescreen display.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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