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CNET First Look
Microsoft Surface is the best productivity tablet yetSurface excels at productivity, thanks to its comfortable keyboard accessory and the inclusion of Office 2013 preview. More apps would be really nice, though.
-Microsoft Surface excels thanks to its thoughtful design, the sensitive implementation of its keyboard cover, and the innovations brought about by its start interface. Unfortunately, app support is dismal. Performance especially on the internet can be slow at times. And like the old guy at the club still hanging around after last call, the traditional windows interface is still here wearing out as welcome. Hi, I??m Eric Franklin and today I??ll take a first look at Microsoft Surface. First, let??s talk about design. Surface has a larger than usual 10.6-inch screen. There??s a built-in kickstand on the back as well as micro HDMI, a full USB 2.0 port, and hidden under the kickstand a micro SD card slot. Front and back cameras are 720p capable. There??s also a headphone jack and a nice clicky volume rocker and power/sleep button. The Windows home touch sensor will take you back to the start interface if you??re ever confused or loss. Surface runs on Windows RT, kind of a light version of Windows 8, which includes the tile-based start interface. If you??re accustomed to other tablet interfaces, this one will take some getting used to. Over the course of a week, I went from hating it to absolutely loving it and then finally landing at liking it with some reservations. I won??t spend too much here as this isn??t a Windows RT review, but I will point out my 3 favorite things. First, the gestures. Swipe left to get the charms menu. Swipe right for recent apps. Swipe right then left for a list of recent apps. Swipe up or down for more options. Swipe down across the screen to close an app. Like I said, there??s definitely a lot to learn here, but it feels great once you do. Then there is split screen. Samsung tried this earlier in the year with the Note 10.1, but here it??s fully realized. It allows you to watch movies while you work or read comics while you watch movies or even watch TV shows while you watch movies or play games or whatever. I really, really did this feature. And lastly, search. You can easily search the entire drive or just a particular app. It??s a convenient and efficient solution. The problem here is that the interface is still linked with the old windows desktop interface. Surface comes with office 2013 preview and each of those apps runs from the desktop. You can??t install apps to this interface, which isn??t touch optimized. It has small icons and links that are just frustrating to use in some options like programs and features serve no purpose at all. Touch cover doesn??t have depressable keys, so it??s gonna take some getting used to, but after a few days, thanks to the tablet??s extra wide body, you may find it??s actually more comfortable than other tablet keyboard accessory you??ve ever used. Type cover, which does have depressable keys, is even better with a much shorter learning curve. So, what??s the bad? No apps. Actually, they??re not so much bad. It??s pretty nonexistent. If you??re an app [unk], you need not apply here. Also, web speeds and opening app speeds are inconsistent and usually feel sluggish. Games performance? I don??t really know. There aren??t enough quality games here to fairly judge. Again, more apps please. Movies on the Zoom marketplace look crisp though. Surface starts at 500 bucks for 32 gigabytes. That same config is available for $600 with a touch cover and $700 gets you the 64 gigabyte version with touch cover. That??s not cheap and those looking simply for a tablet to watch movies on may want to opt for cheaper alternatives, but thanks to its comfortable cover keyboard accessories and the inclusion of Office 2013, Surface is the best productivity tablet yet. It??s a real shame though that there aren??t more apps to choose from. Check out my full review for more details. Once again, this is Eric Franklin and this has been a First Look at the Microsoft Surface.