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Old 11-03-2012, 07:15 PM   #46
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Exclamation Reader Apps

As a reader, Microsoft Surface unfortunately only is a mediocre experience.

Kindle: Strange. I've got the 64GB Surface and still plenty of free storage. Still, after downloading maybe 50 eBooks (original purchases from Amazon) I've got the error code "not enough storage. Delete some books...".

I had this on Kobo touch before. But here simply the reason had been the huge Dilbert files, ca. 50MB each. So I actually ran out of space...

Else, the Kindle app is about what you'd expect. No complaints - with the exception of the storage issue.
Well, maybe another minor issue: Some books (maybe 10% of the ones I've tried) aren't available yet for Windows 8.
For now, I've deleted all Kindle books from the Surface. I'll only download my 20 momentary favorites when traveling, whereas usually I'd take all books with me.
Well, I've got the Kindle Fire HD for that...

Kobo: Extremely disappointing. I've only tried downloading my original purchases, no sideloading. Text books are fine. But some big files, i.e. my Dilbert and Garfield cartoons = ca. 50MB each, crash at the end of the downloading process. When restarting the app, the books haven't been downloaded. I've tried both the US and the German app. Same result. I hate issues like that: I'm using the original books in the original app. How can this make the app crash?

Zinio: Very strange downloading process.
I can scroll through my library. Lots of old issues missing - okay, I can live with that.
Normally, I'd see in my library what's on the unit and what's still in the cloud.
Here I don't!
In the settings, I define "automatically download all magazines from the last 120 days".
There's a status bar, showing the download progress of the respective magazine.
But whether a magazine has been downloaded or not - I simply can't see it without opening the respective magazine.

Else it would be great. Finally bookmarks again! Really had been missing them on iOS and Android.

Last edited by mgmueller; 11-03-2012 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 11-03-2012, 07:38 PM   #47
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5 days of usage

Microsoft Surface RT really is a mixed package after 5 days of (intense) usage:

I love the form factor.
16:9 (or 16:10 or some similar widescreen aspect ratio) to me is way more comfortable and usable than 4:3.

I've briefly tested a 720p Blue-Ray Rip. Absolutely great quality. Vivid colors, great viewing angles. I haven't compared to iPad 3, but on its own it's really great. Speakers are good enough, could be a bit louder though - but no biggy.

There are some great apps. German news magazine "Spiegel" by far is the best version I've seen on all platforms. Tiles instead of tables of content. Visually stunning, way more informative and simply cool.

Performance is absolutely fine. I've got no complaints at all. Even screen rotation and other actions that have been criticized in some reviews are absolutely okay for me.

The tablet itself could be a bit more stylish. It doesn't feel or look cheap. But somehow, the Wow-factor is missing. Quite frankly, it doesn't look like a 600 Euro unit.
The extremely innovative covers somewhat make up for it, but design-wise I'd only rank it slightly above average. Maybe on par with the typical Samsung units.

Battery life is great. I've never done any benchmarks on any of my gadgets. But some tablets I have to charge twice per day. Microsoft Surface RT has to be charged less often than lots of other tablets, although I've used it a lot.

The UI is great and absolutely consistent in all the apps I've tested.
In former versions of Windows, I often didn't like the menu structure in apps. Are settings under "files" or elsewhere?
Here, on Surface RT, it's all the same: Swipe down from the upper bezel, and the options for daily operations appear - all in the very same place.
Swipe from the right bezel, the settings are available.

But:
I'm extremely worried about apps.
So far, no Outlook (which was one of the main reasons for me).
I'm not into games. But I've only stumbled over one worth downloading: Wordament from Microsoft, kind of a Boggle clone. Very nice.
But what about Microsoft Minesweeper or Solitaire?
And I simply miss tons of my "usual" Windows apps.
It very much reminds so far of BlackBerry PlayBook: Phantastic tablet, but doomed from the very beginning due to lack of apps. When finally the Android emulation became available, it was too late already.
I think, Microsoft has to be extremely quick to close the gap and at least make the most essential apps available. Else the Surface RT quickly will be pushed aside by Surface with Windows 8 Pro.
Maybe that's Microsoft's strategy after all? Surface RT as a temporary filler, preparing the market for Windows 8 and then making room for the "real deal"?
Would be a shame though, Surface RT is a nice niche gadget and should "survive"...

Last edited by mgmueller; 11-03-2012 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 11-03-2012, 09:27 PM   #48
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Have you tried using it as a skateboard yet?
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Old 11-03-2012, 09:36 PM   #49
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Thanks for the great reviews.
I am in that market segment that has been looking for a 'productive' tablet. I think the term itself is too broad and I understand you can't please everyone. But, for me, the ideal tablet would allow me to
- Read and annotating - academic articles in PDF and textbooks (epub, mostly)
- Connect to all my email accounts
- Connect to my calendar and contacts on an exchange server
- Have enough battery life so I can recharge overnight and never worry about it during the day.
- Get the WSJ and the Financial Times.

Not much, frankly. I don't care about video, multiple apps, heck I don't even need speakers. But a good email/calendar/contacts client is paramount.
In this sense, the iPad was too much of a toy. I was really hoping on Microsoft to deliver Outlook on a tablet. Heck, that was almost the main appeal. And their constant marketing claims of 'full office' had me interested.

Of course... they left outlook out.
And they want us to believe they are catering to a more work-oriented audience, creating a productive platform. And they don't include outlook.

Typical MS.

Truly, they never fail to disappoint.


Oh by the way... very minor stuff... but you can swipe between apps on an iPad. Not sure iPhone, I frankly never tried. But on an iPad, swipe four-fingers left or right to move between open apps.
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Old 11-03-2012, 09:52 PM   #50
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Have you tried using it as a skateboard yet?
Not yet.
But looking out my windows, I could go snowboarding.
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Old 11-03-2012, 09:57 PM   #51
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Oh by the way... very minor stuff... but you can swipe between apps on an iPad. Not sure iPhone, I frankly never tried. But on an iPad, swipe four-fingers left or right to move between open apps.
I know that of course.
But my problem with iOS always has been: No real multi-tasking.
Someone a few posts back used the term "task switching".
That's a perfect description.
On Surface RT on the other hand, you can place 2 apps next to each other. Run them both in parallel. Even divide the screen between the 2 as you please.

Re. multi-tasking, my ranking clearly is:
#1: Surface RT
# 534: Android
# 2.456.234.345.789.321: iOS

Last edited by mgmueller; 11-03-2012 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:58 AM   #52
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How is the bundled Office? I know it is something like preview (nicer word for Beta?) and some reviewers have complained that typing lags badly in Word. Is that your experience as well?
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Old 11-04-2012, 04:06 AM   #53
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the update from Office Home and Student 2013 Preview to the full release version is rolling out so its not or soon will not be "preview" anymore.

There is no Outlook but the native Mail/People(contacts)/Calendar apps sync with exchange. open one of them, settings, accounts and add exchange, enter your info. you can also add pop or imap etc
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Old 11-04-2012, 10:03 AM   #54
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How is the bundled Office? I know it is something like preview (nicer word for Beta?) and some reviewers have complained that typing lags badly in Word. Is that your experience as well?
The office apps are fine. Productive enough.
I don't experience any lag. Maybe I'm simply not typing fast enough. But for my average typing skills, the touch keyboard is more than adequate and the processing speed more than fast enough.

I've got some minor issues with the office suite though:
They run in the desktop environment. Meaning caption buttons and the likes. A bit inconsistent to the look and feel of the other, tile oriented, Windows 8 apps.
The menu structure differs from other Windows 8 apps as well: Normally you swipe down from the upper bezel. Here you've got the menu structure we already know from former office versions.
In former Windows versions, you freely had been able to configure the size of the Windows elements: Scroll bars, caption buttons and the likes.
I haven't found any such settings on Surface RT for that.
Especially the caption buttons (the small "x" in the top right corner, to close the app) could be a bit bigger. It's workable, but I'd prefer being able to configure the size.
And like I said: It's totally different than in other Windows 8 apps.
Normally, you'd swipe from the upper bezel in the direction of the lower bezel and "flick" the app shut. Here you click the caption button.
Still better than office suits we've seen on other tablets and OSs.
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Old 11-04-2012, 10:41 AM   #55
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Display quality

I've read some harsh reviews concerning the quality of the display:
Resolution too low, colors not vibrant enough and such.

I've tested a HD movie. Blue-Ray Rip "Rango", 2GB, 720p.

First of all: You've got a full blown file structure. Seems pretty obvious for Windows, but I can't stress this enough. I always hated this on iOS. On Android and now on Surface RT, I copy the file wherever I want. Via WLAN, USB stick or whatever option I choose. In the case of Surface RT, I'm obviously using my 64GB Micro SD card.

I find the display phantastic. Vibrant colors, excellent width/height ratio.
The fold-out stand is a nice gimmick and the speakers are good enough.

I'll compare to numerous other tablets.

For now:

Kindle Fire HD
The colors on Kindle Fire HD seem a bit more saturated, but more "natural" on Surface RT.
I don't see any pixelation on either tablet, albeit the dpi rate (148 dpi on Surface RT, 216 dpi on Kindle Fire HD).
The sound on Kindle Fire HD is more powerful, but I have no complaints about Surface RT either.
Re. display, I'd rate Surface RT slightly above Kindle Fire HD. Given the way bigger display (= pixelation and other issues would be more obvious) of Surface RT, that's quite a compliment I guess.

iPad 3
The colors on iPad 3 are slightly more saturated. You see it in direct comparison, but wouldn't guess without reference.
I always found the mono speaker on all iPads the biggest (= the only real) flaw of iPad. This shows in movies as well.
Surface RT certainly doesn't have the best speakers. BlackBerry PlayBook or Motorola Xoom 2 for example definitely beat it there. But compared to iPad 3, personally I prefer Surface RT re. sound. I'm not sure about stereo effect on Surface RT, but it somewhat sounds more "rich".
I was surprised, how much bigger the movie was on Surface RT because of the form factor and resolution. On the other hand, this means slightly "sharper" picture on iPad 3.
I'm surprised (given some harsh reviews) how great Surface RT competes in movies with the champion iPad 3.
And, again: Accessible file system on Surface RT. I can copy the files where I want and access them from any application.
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Old 11-04-2012, 11:40 AM   #56
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multitasking

As for multitasking, there is an app called "side by side" for IPAD. You can put multiple windows side by side with each window running different jobs.
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Old 11-04-2012, 12:11 PM   #57
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The more I use the Surface RT, the more I'm amazed that I was ever able to live without it. It has replaced my iPhone, tv, desktop pc, and laptop at home.

FYI, don't use the Google public dns server with the Surface RT--it is very slow and there are connection problems with the windows app store.

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Old 11-04-2012, 12:43 PM   #58
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As for multitasking, there is an app called "side by side" for IPAD. You can put multiple windows side by side with each window running different jobs.
"Side by Side"?
Do you mean this one? https://itunes.apple.com/de/app/side...386528623?mt=8
Meaning: You can't actually use 2 separate apps, for example Kindle app and your email client, next to each other?
But basically all you can do is use a few pre-defined windows within the very same app?
If so, I wouldn't consider this "multi-tasking".
Sony on their Android tablets P and S went one step further: There are 2 apps on tablet P (and in addition the remote control on tablet S): Browser and calculator. You can use those 2 on top of any other app and even can change the size of the window.
Again: Only 2 specific apps, whereas in my understanding "multi tasking" would mean, using whatever apps you choose in parallel. Not freezing one to the background and bringing the other one to front.
Or even more limited: Having a single app which runs a few tasks in pre-defined windows. I've seen some of that kind on iPad. Usually it's web browsing + calculator + email + note or something like that. In my understanding, that's not multiple tasks. It's a single task (= one app), using more than one window.

Last edited by mgmueller; 11-04-2012 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:04 PM   #59
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There are different kinds of multitasking:
- task-switching allows multiplle apps to be "active" but only the one the user is interacting with is using the CPU at any given instant.
- cooperative multi-tasking ala MacOS Switcher establishes a protocol that allows the switcher app to *ask* the running app to go to sleep at the next most convenient instant and turn the system over to the switcher, which then activates another dormant app. Again, at any instant only one app is active.
- true premptive multitasking, ala Windows, Unix, Linux, is where the OS juggles all resources in real time and keeps multiple apps running simultaneously and the apps stay active simultaneously. On multicore/multiprocessing system you *do* have multiple processes running at the exact same instant.

Windows not only is a full preemptive multitasking OS but it is also known to have one of the best, if not *the* best scheduler algorithms for multitasking good for single user mulltitasking as well as multi-user multitasking in clusters. That by itself makes Windows RT a strange beast: a tablet OS with the heart of a mainframe, not a phone.

Last edited by fjtorres; 11-04-2012 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 11-05-2012, 01:53 PM   #60
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Windows RT Accounts for half of the 32GB Surface's disk space:
Quote:
Microsoft has revealed exactly how much free space new Surface owners are left with after taking into account Windows RT and system-related files. For the 32GB version of the new tablet, users have access to only 16GB of storage, with the remaining half taken up by Windows recovery tools, Windows RT, Microsoft Office, and built-in apps.
Wow, just wow.
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