Since a while I am the proud owner of a Surface RT (which can be bought now in the Netherlands online Microsoft Store, Media Markt and TabletCenter). I love the device. It is a typical kitchen table device, except it is more personalized than other tablets of course. With the availability of lots of apps in the store I use it in the morning to catch up with the news: NU.nl, NOS, Telegraaf, mail etc. But also a little bit of surfing the internet, mail or Facebook it is the perfect device.
Many criticasters will come with remarks as: “I can not install application XYZ”. And developers will ask, is it possible to develop on it. Well, what is the problem? Those questions don’t come when using a iPad or an Android device. On those platforms apps need to be downloaded from the Store and other apps are not possible.
Perhaps there is the marketing problem. A Microsoft Surface RT or an ARM device from another manufacturer run with Windows RT. The fact it is called Windows, make people believe more is possible than actual can. Also the available Desktop tile makes it believable there is more possible.
Also the thinking about it as a Enterprise device is not completely true. A Surface RT or Windows RT device can not domain joined. Also Group policies are not possible with Windows RT. Licenses is also tricky. A Surface RT comes with Microsoft Office 2013. This is a Home/Student version. Which means you can not use it in a commercial way. Again not really annoying, because an iPad can not be Domain joined too 😉
If you want more, then a Surface Pro will be the solution. It is equipped with a i5 and got 4 Gb memory. Reasonable for most applications. Two different disk sizes are possible 64 Gb and 128 Gb. That looks little, but nowadays we store a lot in the Cloud. Aren’t we? I have a 64 Gb version of the Pro and free is 7.5 Gb. Ok, I got Visual Studio, Microsoft Office and WP8 SDK installed. On a Surface Pro you can install desktop apps and domain join it etc.
Other than that are the device equal to each other? Not really. They like alike a lot, but the Pro is much thicker. Because the i5 processor needs more cooling then a ARM processor. The Pro gets warm after a while but not hot. The SD card slot sits on another place compared to a RT. Other irritant thingy, the external display connector is different. the RT uses a HD video out port and the Pro uses a mini Displayport. The battery life of the RT is more 8+ hours and the Pro gets 4 hours out of the battery.
Also the screen of both devices are not equal. The RT has a resolution in desktop mode of 1366×768 and the Pro has 1920×1080 resolution. Out-of-the-box you do not see that, because the zoom level is 150%. The RT has 5 Touch point available and the Pro doubles that. The Pro comes with a Stylus, with that one you can draw like we did on earlier tablet laptops. This pen can not be used on a RT. Not really strange, because the RT serves an other purpose.
If we are talking about usage of the devices, I think about it like this. You use the Surface RT Like you would use an iPad. You install lot’s of Windows Store apps and you are in the modern UI most of the time. Only when using Word/Excel/PowerPoint you see the desktop. The Surface Pro is used need more than Windows Store apps. Because you need to install some ‘old’ desktop apps and you are on the Desktop part of Windows 8 often. But it the Pro is very clumsy on your knees while seated on the sofa. And developers want a more heavier processor i7 with more memory. So for development you need a Ultrabook with touch screen, like a Lenovo, Acer, Asus or HP. These devices can be upgraded much better with mmory and better CPU’s.
On this moment I own Surface RT’s and a Surface Pro. Both work quite nice. But before you want buy one, think about your needs. Also Enterprise or business users should think before they leap.
Want to see them in real life? During the TechDays in Den Haag I will be there as an ATE (Ask the Expert). I will have them with me for sure 😉