Microsoft Surface could be your next ‘laptop’
By Jim Rossman The Dallas Morning News
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
I've mentioned before that I love my Apple iPad, but I keep thinking I'd like to make it a replacement for my laptop.
The Microsoft Surface tablet shares a lot of features with the iPad but has a few laptop-like tricks up its sleeve.
The Surface with Windows RT, starting at $499, is a nice combination of quality hardware and innovative software.
Windows RT is a somewhat limited version of Windows. The Surface is also available with a full version of Windows 8 Pro starting at $899.
If you're familiar with Apple products, Windows RT is like the iOS operating system on the iPad, and Windows 8 Pro is like the full version of OS X on a Mac.
RT users are limited to apps bought through the Windows App Store, while Pro users can use any Windows desktop apps on their Surface.
Battery life on RT devices is longer because of power-saving features and optimization for use with tablet processors.
RT comes with Microsoft Office Home and Student RT so users can work with Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents with ease. The RT versions of the Office apps are optimized for the touch interface.
You can only install mice, keyboards and other devices certified by Microsoft for RT use.
Windows RT looks a lot like Windows 8. In fact, the Metro interface, a series of live tiles that update automatically to bring you information as well as act as buttons to launch apps, looks similar on all Microsoft operating systems, including the Windows phone.
Of course, like the Windows phone, the Surface uses a touch interface. In addition to the touch interface, the Surface has an actual pointer, an arrow that moves around the screen by using a mouse or trackpad.
The addition of a pointer is a game-changer to me. It's what gives the Surface the potential to run all Windows apps, not just those designed for a touch interface.
It works beautifully. When you attach a keyboard with a trackpad or a mouse, as soon as you move the mouse or touch the keypad, an arrow pointer appears just like on any other Windows computer.
The Surface weighs 1.5 pounds and measures about 11 inches by 7 inches.
We've all seen the commercials where dozens of people dance holding a Surface while attaching and removing their magnetic keyboards in unison. The Surface stands on its own as a tablet, but in my opinion, it really shines with the keyboard.
Microsoft sells two keyboard covers — the Touch cover ($119) and the Type cover ($129).
Unlike iPad keyboards that connect through Bluetooth, the Surface keyboard covers have pins that make contact inside the magnetic connector to make adding a keyboard effortless.
I liked the Surface as much as I like my iPad, but for different reasons. I think the iPad is perfect for consuming media like music, movies and magazines or books. The Surface is a tablet I could really see being a creation device.
I was very comfortable using Word on the Surface to get my work done. I'd love to get my hands on the Windows 8 Pro version to really take that pointer for a spin.
If I used a Windows laptop, I'd give the Surface a hard look as my next computer.
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