Living with the Surface – Day 1

Microsoft Surface - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

At long last, the Surface is finally available. After spending the entire day playing around with the device, it’s time to give my first impressions. A full review, of course, is forthcoming.

The Surface’s packaging looks great, and the setup process went very smoothly. Within minutes, I had run through the configuration process and entered my Microsoft account. This, of course, caused all of my emails, contacts, calendar items, pinned sites, personalization setting, music and video collections, etc. to automatically transfer to the device. Performance was a little on the slow side at first, but that’s because it was simultaneously updating Office, downloading apps, and obtaining synced settings. Once that process finished, performance increased dramatically and it’s been excellent ever since.

The device hardware is as well-made as it is beautiful, and the snap of the kickstand and magnetically-attached Touch Cover are just as pleasing in real life as they are in the ads. It took me a little while to get used to the Touch Keyboard, but the adjustment wasn’t all that difficult. Microsoft, of course, says that it could take 3-5 days for you to fully adjust. Right now, I’d estimate that my typing is about 90-95% accurate. The biggest issue is just adjusting to a narrower keyboard size than I’m used to, which has caused me to miss a key more than a few times. Actual input detection, however, seems to be excellent. Better still, it doesn’t recognize erroneous inputs, and it’s smart enough to differentiate actual key presses from tapping in tune to music. Overall, I’d have to say that typing on the Touch Cover is almost on par with my old laptop.

The only disappointment, at this point, is that a few Windows Store apps don’t support ARM processors yet. I knew this would be the case, but there are more than I was expecting. Minesweeper, Solitaire, Mahjong, and Taptiles aren’t yet compatible, but the rest of the Xbox LIVE-enabled games work wonderfully. It should be noted, however, that the vast majority of apps and games will work on ARM processors like the one found in the Surface.

While it’s still too early to definitively discuss the Surface’s battery life, I’ve been very impressed so far. As of this writing, I’ve been operating my device on battery for the last seven hours and I still have 20% of the battery remaining. And that’s with non-stop usage, including playing games, listening to music, downloading and organizing apps, and writing this very piece.

I had very high hopes for the Surface, and so far it’s lived up to every one of my expectations. I’m curious to see how the typing improves over time. And don’t forget to check out the forums, where EnzoTen and I will be posting our thoughts and answering your questions.

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/ Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.

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