28. October 2012 20:48
Most of you know I haven't been impressed by Win 8 and I'm still not but at a local Win 8 launch event on Friday I got a chance to see the new MS Surface RT. I'll have to admit to being impressed. I'm not quite sure why I was so surprised at how elegant it want since on the few occasions when I've used MS hardware it has been well thought out and well designed. Keyboards, game controllers and mice (in particular the Arc mouse) come to mind.
One of my biggest frustrations with Win 8 has been the size of the onscreen keyboard. In landscape, the only sensible way to browse the web given the shallow width in portrait means half the screen is taken up by the keyboard when you are trying to fill in forms. The click on keyboard that was designed as a matched set solves that problem and the kickout support puts it at a very good angle for reading at a table or whatever. It also has a front facing camera designed to work with that angle for conferencing. It is amazingly light even with the keyboard cover attached. The keyboard cover has something I haven't seen on any of the third party Apple keyboards and that is a texture difference on the keys so even though they are flat you "feel" them if that makes any sense. I found it extremely easy to type on. Note, I did not see or try the hard keyboard but from what I can tell it is very much like the Logitech one I have for iPad. The aluminum Logitech is the best keyboard I've tried or used for the iPad so that should be a good option for those who want a more traditional keyboard type feel.
The pictures you see on the web or in print doesn't do the Surface justice. The back sweep angle from the edge makes it pleasant to hold and comfortable in the hand. I had figured that I could do all the testing I wanted to do using Win 8 on the Motion CL900 I've been using for testing Win 8 Pro and IE 10. Though I always go to the desktop implementation of Internet Explorer 10 which is somewhat different at least in layout to the “app” version. I really should use the App version for testing as well but it seems a bit difficult to get back to that interface once you’ve launched it from the desktop.
So I had no intention of buying a Microsoft Surface. After seeing the hardware I've changed my mind and there will be a Surface RT in my future, my near future. Our course it doesn't hurt that my husband won a $100 gift card to the Microsoft Store at the event which I plan on "appropriating". After all the RT version of Office must be somewhat different than the full version on a Windows 7 computer or Windows 8 Pro, right?
BTW, if you ware wondering what this has to do with web design, Expression Web or other topics normally covered on this site. Browser testing – you really do need to test your website in commonly used browser and IE 10 will be a common browser, more so than mobile Safari in my opinion. I still don’t plan to move my primary computer from Windows 7 to Windows 8 nor has Internet Explorer 10 been released for any system other than the Win 8 OS. Betas, Previews, Release Candidates are all not final versions which is all that is available for Windows 7 or below. The only way to test properly in IE 10 is with a Windows 8 OS. You can either run it in a VM or directly on the hardware. The Surface is such lovely elegant hardware that it actually puts my iPad 3 behind it in style and design (not to mention that with the Surface I don’t have to use a dongle to connect to a monitor (mini HDMI connector) and it has a full size USB connector, though I wish it had a full size not micro SD card slot so I could take the cards from camera directly to the computer instead of using a standard usb adapter. Did I mention that it also comes with Office 13 Home and Student? True it is just the preview edition right now but once Office 13 ships in a month it will automatically update to the full version.
I will say that for use totally without a keyboard I still prefer the iPad form factor height/width but with the keyboard cover the Surface seems to me more suited for producing not just consuming content. So despite what I’ve been saying for months I do now see a Surface in my future.