Microsoft's Surface RT tablet will hit store shelves Friday, but several reviewers have already had a chance to try out the device. Their verdicts are mixed, with most finding things to praise and things to pan in Microsoft's foray into the hardware market.
Reuters reported, "Tech bloggers and other reviewers praised Microsoft Corp's new Surface RT tablet for beautiful design but said a shortage of applications and a slow operating system meant the result was heartbreak for users."
The Guardian's Juliette Garside was a bit more harsh, saying, "Microsoft's Surface – the company's first tablet computer produced in-house, and a crucial part of the software giant's strategy to survive the decline of the PC – has been given a thumbs down by reviewers. Verdicts published overnight in the US, the first from journalists to have tested Surface at home, have praised its touchscreen interface but slated the machine for poor resolution, being too heavy, using substandard cameras, and having a narrow selection of apps which are prone to crashing."
Over at All Things D, Walt Mossberg called the Surface "historic," adding, "I have been testing the Surface almost daily for three weeks and I like it. It’s beautifully and solidly built and it’s the purest expression of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 touchscreen operating system which, like the Surface, goes on sale on Friday." But his bottom line conclusion was more muted: "Microsoft’s Surface is a tablet with some pluses: The major Office apps and nice optional keyboards. If you can live with its tiny number of third-party apps and somewhat disappointing battery life, it may give you the productivity some miss in other tablets."
Wired's Matthew Honan wrote, "Nobody asked me about my Surface. I tried flashing it all over the place. But despite my best efforts, no one seemed curious." He added, "That’s too bad. Although nobody asked, Microsoft’s new tablet is an altogether curious device. It’s something completely new and different. It is, in some ways, better than an iPad. In some ways, worse. It’s brilliant, and yet it can be puzzling as well. Confoundingly so at times. It’s a tablet of both compromises and confusion. It is a true hybrid — neither fully a desktop nor mobile device. That’s reflected in all sorts of ways. It is Wi-Fi only, but won’t run traditional Windows applications. It has a full-featured keyboard and runs Microsoft Office — but it’s certainly meant to be touched and swiped and tapped. It’s different."