A couple months ago I bought a Surface RT because I needed a lightweight business machine to take with me sometimes. Carrying a ~3kg development laptop is not always fun, especially when you have long days and you need to move from one place to another often. Surface RT turned out to be pretty good investment and here are my first real-life experiences.
The full point of Surface RT came to me when I actually started using it in real life. Of course, I also made my own experiments on it just to find out other possible scenarios where Surface can be great help for me, but I will focus on other things on later posts.
Easy, quick and lightweight
First thing I noticed was that it is convenient to take Surface RT with me. I don’t even need bag with me because I can just keep it in hand. Opening Surface and accessing my work programs and systems is blazing fast – just open Surface, click button, log in and there you are. Typing is painless no matter if you use on-screen or attached keyboard. Yes, it takes some small time to get used with those new keyboards but it’s not something annoying. It took me two meetings to be intermediate level Surface keyboard gangsta.
Alhtough one of my friends faced bad issues with Surface RT battery time I have had no problems with Surface RT battery. If I don’t do anything that keeps CPU heavily loaded the battery lasts around two-three days for me. Of course, I have companion tool called Windows Phone 8 because Windows RT has no support for SIM-card.
Charger is weird creature by Microsoft and it’s impossible to get it somewhere if you are not in country where Surface RT is not available. There are no normal chargers or USB charging possible and this is something I consider as bad fail of Microsoft – if being online is mandatory for you when travelling then you still have to take some more fool-proof device for you.
I have heard many complaints about how Windows RT takes too much disk space on Surface. Well… it’s still dual operating system that is able to run some of your known applications from regular Windows and it comes with RT version of Office. Of course, it all takes some room.
Solution to problem is simple – you can buy MicroSD card to extend storage and keep big files on card. Current MicroSD cards provide disk space up to 64GB and Microsoft has told that they have made no limits to size of MicroSD. If you find some bigger MicroSD that has same communication interface as smaller ones have then it should work fine with Surface RT.
I bought 64GB MicroSD and still I have a lot of room available on main disk and on MicroSD. I think more and more that whining about disk space is just whining and it doesn’t come from real use.
Working on Surface RT
Now let’s focus on some work stuff too. I decided for Surface RT after considering many factors. I need access to my systems, I need to communicate with my teams and customers and I must be able to work with documents. This far Surface RT is served me well on following things:
- accessing Jira OnDemand to monitor tasks and issues for current systems
- accessing SharePoint on Office365 where we host our project sites
- using Skype – experience is damn kinky but it works
- I can work with e-mails using e-mail application for Metro, it’s very primitive but it works so I get everything done
- Office documents – yes, I can work wih Word, Excel and PowerPoint – applications are not as powerful as their full versions but I can still get my work done
- OneNote for touch – I’m using it to protocol customer meetings (damn convenient – just type your memos and when you are back on your work machine your memo is already waiting there)
- Remote Desktop – yes, Surface RT comes with Remote Desktop and if needed I can access my servers from Surface RT (not very convenient due to small screen but it works well)
- SkyDrive – yes, I can work with files on cloud and as most of my stuff is on cloud then SkyDrive is great help for me
There are some things I’m not very happy with. SharePoint client integration is missing, Office applications on RT are not very touch oriented and OneNote is missing many text formatting options or at least I have not found these. These issues are not show stoppers but they take time to get around.
Surface RT is not replacement for laptop. It is companion tool that is somewhere between laptop and smart phone and if you treat it like this then you will be happy with it. If you want replacement to your laptop then you have to buy the new laptop. This far Surface RT has been great help on my business trips and it also helps me when I have out-from-office days. I can most important things done, I can keep up communication with teams and customers and I can manage my servers. Cloud integration makes working with same files on different devices very convenient. If you need just device that helps you to keep up business side of your office then Surface RT is very good choice.