Feedback on Surface RT Review

Feedback on Surface RT ReviewI’ve said it dozens — if not hundreds (if not thousands!) — of times: My preferences in tech may not match your preferences in tech. It should never degenerate into a matter of vitriolic contention. If you want to see someone disagree with me without resorting to name-calling and argumentum ad hominem, Rob the Elder does it right! He writes:

Good morning.

I enjoyed your YouTube videos on the Surface RT, but wanted to offer you some feedback from my perspective as a 38-year EE, aerospace software / hardware designer who has worked on just about everything that flies, crawls, digs in the dirt, or orbits in space at one time or another. I am also an early adopter. I bought the Timex black box computer when it came out and have had just about everything up to and including my current stable of 15 desktops, five Apple TVs, two Kindles, three Kindle Fires, an iPad, four laptops, and, yes, a Microsoft Surface RT. Just for perspective, I also have four paired servers running at home with my content, which are currently hosting 4 TB of music and video.

I have been around the park a couple of times.

My first impression of the Surface was that it was too wide, too heavy, and too thick. I was also very uncertain about the new Windows 8 interface. I lived through DOS, pre-Windows 95, XP, Vista, and finally came to respect and — dare I say it — like Windows 7. I currently have all three of the latest versions of Windows running at home and can make them all do what I need done.

My experience over the past 10 days has gone from “What the heck is this thing and who came up with this user interface?” to “Ohhh, that’s how it works. That is cool!”

For example, I am an avid iPad consumer. I have several forums that I inhabit hourly. I do some light .me mail on it. I play games in the odd moments of downtime. And I read the weather, World of Tanks updates, and local news in near real time pretty much continuously when I am not locked up in a room with no windows at work. I love the iPad and it’s an important part of my life. It brings me Top Gear while I take a bath. But I have never viewed the iPad or the Kindle, for that matter, as useful tools. They are, instead, basically fun and useful toys. They allow me to do the same things I used to do with a TV, a laptop, and a radio, but in a more convenient and portable package. 2001: A Space Odyssey has come to be reality.

But whenever I’ve tried to do some useful work on the existing tablets, forget it. I have a high preference for Windows boxes. I have a Lion server as my iTunes host and for doing things uniquely Apple, but I pretty much hate the user interface. I grew up on the Apple Lisa in the office and learned Office with Apple boxes. I thought Apple was a great machine and used it extensively and exclusively until DOS started showing up in the office and I got seriously into gaming. Then I was forced, kicking and screaming, into the Intel box world and Microsoft. I started building my own computers. I learned that there were significant advantages to an open architecture that MS offered vs. the “we know better than you” approach to products that the Fruit Company enforces. So I went over to the dark side and am still there. I hate the limited, constrained interface of the Lion OS, for example.

When I saw the Surface, I decided that I would get one with little expectations over needing to find out more about Windows 8 and the new user interface. I also had hopes that with native Office I could generate content in Office on one of my desktops, and easily move it to the Surface for ultimate sharing/consumption with and for others. It would be a highly portable MS Office, if you will.

I was disappointed by the lack of documentation that came with the device. I liked the quality and the functionality it provided, but I had to do a lot of reading and playing around to figure it out. Then I found the desktop. And the device manager. And the network manager. And the control panel!

I tried for years to get the iPad to print reliably and failed. I should not have to go buy three apps, read a ton of documentation, and play with parameters in order to get garbage coming out of my printers.

With the Surface, I went to the control panel and opened up the network. There were all my network printers. And my home share group. I printed a sample Word document on the first try by pushing a couple of on-screen buttons. I was playing shared music files from my Windows music server in under a minute. I have two 64 gig SD cards for fun and frivolity and data sharing. I have created content on my desktop and seamlessly moved them to my Surface for consumption and portability.

I went to IE and pulled up Pandora. It came up quickly; I entered my account info and had my favorite stations at my fingertips in under two minutes.

I went into control panel and reset the power option to stop it from going to sleep when under power and it will stream music as long as I wish.

I went to several of the sites that share content in Flash and… drum roll… consumed the content!

I mean, your complaints in your video to me look pretty trivial and overly critical. Sure, the Surface is a compromise in hardware, battery life, and functionality. But last night when I picked up my iPad, I found myself wishing I had brought my Surface instead so I could do some updates to my files while listening to Pandora.

Just saying.

Have a great day.

Keep up the… work. I guess you can’t hit a home run every time!

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.