Across the new years holiday, I took a long four week holiday off in Indonesia with my family and in-laws. Previously I have always taken my Dell laptop(s), but this time, I decided to take my Surface RT tablet. (Yes, the first generation one, not the Surface 2). I have owned the Surface RT for over a year and while I always thought it is a decent device, it lacked the number of Apps that the iPad has, and lacked the ability to run old x86 apps. I wanted a decent attempt at using only the Surface RT for a number of weeks, and figure out where I stand on the device.
My Surface RT has been regularly updated and runs the latest Windows 8.1, it also synchronizes with my Microsoft Account and shares the Apps I have purchased on my main machine.
In Indonesia, I have access to slow internet, based on where I was. I didn't have mobile data, and turned off roaming. So I relied on the Surface RT for both online and lots of offline activity.
So, consider this my report card.
- Mail (not Outlook)
The built in Mail app is very handy. It downloads both my gmail and Outlook.com emails, which are available and fast to browse and read. I can compose emails offline which is very handy. I did not use either gmail or outlook.com websites during my 4 weeks.
- Internet Explorer
Is surprisingly useful for almost everything else:
Runs great and I was able to catch up on all my blog reading.
Runs fine and I was able to read and write tweets.
Runs fine. Although the people Tile was updated regularly, I find the browser experience for Facebook on par with what I have at home. My wife isn't so impressed with many of the Flash-based Facebook games, some do run, but is sluggish. I wondered if the new Surface 2 would handle these a lot better.
Actually works very well. The only thing I missed is the Chrome extension: RES. But I've stopped using Google Chrome a while back and increasingly don't really miss that plugin. I will probably look for an App for Reddit next time.
I had to read a number of attachments: Word, Excel and PowerPoint on my holidays. The built in Office did the trick, and I didn't feel I missed a beat.
I had not set up Outlook to my office exchange server, and didn't want to start downloading a lot of emails on a slow data connection. Luckily, my colleagues were really nice to me and didn't send me much work! All the Office documents I was reviewing are related to conferences and activities throughout the year.
I wanted to download a bunch of games and play them everywhere, but honestly I've stuck with Tiny Death Stars and Frozen Freefall - both great apps by Disney and available across both Windows 8 store as well as WindowsPhone. Very happy with the games.
I also downloaded a manga application and had it download some manga for offline reading.
- Account sync
I really enjoyed the tiles' positions being synchronized across my Windows 8.1 desktop at home and the Surface RT. I had no trouble remembering where my apps are.
- Touch Cover
The touch cover, oh how much I wanted you to work, but you are just not comfortable. I can type reasonably well on the touch cover, but I'm afraid I will never be able to type perfectly. I need the Type-Cover. Rumour goes there is a better Powered-Type Cover coming. I can't wait.
- Windows Updates and poor battery management
Windows Update must have ran at some point, and I found the Surface poor at handling the battery when I'm not using it. I did read there was a firmware over December that was causing a lot of issues but I thought it was only with the Surface PRO devices. This one was not good. I could use the table for half a day. Close it and put it down. And there won't be any battery left when I pick it up again in the evening.
- No Windows Live Writer
I wanted to update my blog, but without a good blog writing software, I was stuck with the web interface. I ended up writing most of my blog on OneNote, and then copy the text over to the web interface to post to my blog site.
A Windows 8 Store Blog Application needs to be a thing.
- Dropping the Surface RT
I dropped the Surface RT - face down, from a bedside table onto the wooden floor. Luckily there was no damage. I... don't want to try this again.
- Rotational Lock and reading manga
Rotational Lock and how easy it was to access from the charms bar was great. On the Windows Phone rotation lock is a bit harder to reach in the settings.
- Fast charging
The Surface charges really quick. From a depleted Surface it can be charged within 2 hours.
- Take picture from lock screen
I discovered that you can swipe down from the lock screen and the Surface RT will activate the camera! I was not able to do this on my laptop - I can't swipe the lock screen down.