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Microsoft Surface RT Review – 2016

Microsoft Surface RT Review – 2016 published on No Comments on Microsoft Surface RT Review – 2016

Microsoft’s shocked the world a few months back when they decided to reveal a new device that was half tablet and half PC. The Surface family of tablets (and perhaps future products) are Microsoft-branded devices which combine Microsoft software (Windows 8) and Microsoft-designed hardware. On the surface (no pun intended), one would think that this hybrid PC is the greatest computer in the world. Is that really the case? Read on to find out.




Hardware & Design

Microsoft has a long history with making hardware. As Steve Ballmer noted at the Surface event back in June, they have been making mice and keyboards for many, many years. They also have experience in hardware with their Zune line of personal music players as well as the Xbox consoles. In that hardware mix there are some huge triumphs and some deep lows. The Surface RT is a huge hardware triumph.


The Surface is a sleek black slab that, in Microsoft own words, brings the software and your information to the surface. The 10.6-inch 16:9 ClearType display is covered in Gorilla Glass 2 and is the prominent feature on the face of the device. Besides a front-facing camera, the only other items on the front of the Surface is a capacitive Windows home button. The rest of the device is covered in a material Microsoft calls VaporMag. The lighter-than-aluminum magnesium alloy material is just 0.65mm in thickness all the way around the device and feels great to the touch.

The back side of the device has a built-in kick stand that is fantastic in everyday use and also durable. The kickstand holds the device at a 22-degree angle and closes with a firm snap that would make a fine automobile maker jealous. Also on the back is a rear camera, which is not fantastic for snapping pictures, but extremely serviceable for video chatting. A microSD card slot for expandable storage is available underneath the kickstand.

The sides of the Surface RT contain dual stereo speaker grills, a volume rocker, headphone jack, proprietary magnetic charging port, keyboard dock magnetic port, USB 2.0 port and a video-out port. The top of the device holds a microphone slot and the power/wake button.

Simply put, the Surface RT is a slim, fantastic-looking device which is great in the hand to hold and just the perfect weight to give it a substantial feeling without feeling cheaply made.



Microsoft opted for a 10.6″ ClearType HD Display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels in a 16:9 widescreen format. The display is also a 5-point multi-touch panel. In use, the display on the Surface RT is fantastic. Images, text and videos are super-sharp and also boasts a much higher contrast ratio and is much less reflective than the current iPad. When compared with the current iPad, the Surface RT stands toe-to-toe. A close examination, however, might give the sharpness of the iPad’s display the nod due to it’s much higher resolution.

Performance & Battery

Microsoft opted for a Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor and coupled it with 2GB of RAM. Needless to say, this thing flies. Windows 8 moves fluidly on this hardware. I never once noticed any lag or skipping around when browsing or scrolling on the device. I even opened a number of apps at a time to see if I could strain the Surface, but it remained fast and smooth.

The Surface RT would be an utter failure if it didn’t compete with devices like Apple’s iPad in terms of long lasting battery life. In this area, the Surface RT competes proudly. In my own unscientific tests, the Surface RT’s battery performed just as well as the iPad, which is a good thing. Typical use would net close to 10 hours on a single charge.

Microsoft also included a special proprietary charging port which is said to speed up the charging of the device considerably.


I can only speak to the touch cover for the Surface RT as that is the only model I have, but it is surprisingly good. The Touch Cover is a modern marvel straight from Microsoft’s vast experience in keyboard and mice design.  The slim keyboard is spill-resistant and has a soft, almost fleece-like, feel to it. I expected to have an issue getting used to typing on the Touch cover at first, but I jumped right in and was typing nearly as fast as I do on your typical keyboard.

Microsoft also included a trackpad on both the Touch and Type covers and it is impressive to say the least. Swipes and click were registered the first time, every time.

The Touch and Type covers serve as great keyboards, but also as covers for the Surface RT. The keyboards snap into the magnetic connector and feel solid doing so and then swing around to act as a protective covering for the device. Microsoft certainly has a winner here with their keyboard covers.


Software, User Experience & Apps

Microsoft‘s Surface tablets will be running versions of their Windows 8 operating system. The Surface RT runs Windows RT, a specially–made version of the OS made to run on ARM chipsets. What this means in layman’s terms is that Windows RT can take advantage of the ARM processors low power consumption and impressive battery life.

However, there is a trade-off with using Windows RT. The Surface RT is not compatible with your typical desktop applications, with the exception of the ones included and specifically written for Windows RT. These apps include a number of Windows-specific programs like Notepad and Paint, but also Microsoft’s Office 2013 suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote…no Outlook). The good news here is that every Surface owner will get the RT Office 2013 suit for free. This suite of apps will run in a desktop mode that is included in Windows 8.

This desktop mode takes us to the user experience portion of this review. Microsoft wanted a no-compromise version of Windows that could be used on both regular (non-touch) PC’s and touch-enabled PC’s, like tablet computers. This way a user could have the convenience of a tablet PC when the keyboard wasn’t connected, but still have the power and versatility of a full PC when using the desktop and file explorer.

At first, I wondered how Microsoft might pull off this feat, but it’s pretty simple. If you want the desktop then it’s there. If you don’t, it’s not. It is that simple.

Apps on the Surface RT consist only of the specially made and included desktop apps from Microsoft and apps which come from the Windows Store. The Windows Store comes on every Windows 8 PC and includes full screen modern apps for Windows 8. This is where the majority of Windows RT users will get their apps and games.

Right now, the app store is small, but is growing at a fast pace and should be very competitive in no time. I was pleasantly surprised while recently browsing the Windows Store to see first party apps beginning to appear in numbers.


Pricing & Availability


Microsoft has priced the Surface RT competitively with other tablets. There is a base model in 32GB minus the keyboard covers for $499, a 32GB model with black Touch Cover for $599 and a 64GB model with black Touch Cover for $699. You can also order additional Touch Covers in white, cyan and magenta for $120 each or a Type Cover for $130 each.




I believe ZDNet’s Ed Bott put it most succinctly when he said that Surface RT is “more than an iPad and less than a PC.” With Windows 8 as its software platform, Microsoft is able to create more than just a consumption device, like the iPad. Users can now consume and create on a device that is just as much tablet as it’s competitors and just enough PC for the majority of users.

There will be some who simply cannot get by with just the RT alone. I think Microsoft expects this. After all, they are releasing a Pro version of the Surface in a few months which will have the ability to run regular desktop applications. I believe that the majority of computer users in the world fall in between an iPad and a full desktop PC and this is where the Surface RT is positioned. Sure, there is going to be a learning curve to Windows 8 and sure the app store needs to grow, but for the average person who turns on a PC and needs to simply browse the web, check their email or play some music and edit a Word document, the Surface is more than capable.

Fantastic hardware, Windows 8, Office 2013, Touch and Type covers are just a few of the reasons I can highly recommend Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet. This is the next generation of PC hardware.

Windows Phone Games: Rise Of Glory Review

Windows Phone Games: Rise Of Glory Review published on No Comments on Windows Phone Games: Rise Of Glory Review

One of the first Xbox LIVE games that I purchased for Windows Phone was the RevoSolutions and Microsoft Game Studios produced title, Rise of Glory. Rise of Glory is a World War era plane shooter with excellent 3D graphics and plenty of levels to fight your way through. Both a single player and multiplayer option will keep the title fresh and the smooth controls are simple to master once the user figures out how to steer the plan without crashing.

The graphics for Rise of Glory are excellent and I had no problem with frame rates dipping or artifacts on either the Samsung Focus or HTC Surround I tested it on. The only time things would slow down in the game is when there would be a ton or firing, multiple planes and smoke clouds rolling through the air at the same time. This was a rare occurance though.


I first had some difficulty with taking off from the ground and crashing, so I would suggest users take the time to calibrate the controls before beginning the game. Rise of Glory uses the phone accelerometer to steer the aircraft. Pulling back on the phone points the nose up and the opposite effect is achieved by pushing the phone forward. Steering left and right is also as simple as tilting the phone slightly in each direction.

On-screen controls include: an ignition switch, rudder controls, fire, speed up and speed down. Each control is placed on the screen so that it is easily accessed during flight and combat.

Gameplay is pretty straight forward. The single player mission starts off fairly simple by getting the user accustomed to mission controls and then dives into air and ground combat missions with some variation through the twelve missions. Multiplayer places you right in the middle of combat for a some quick combat action.



As with all Xbox LIVE-enabled games, you will earn achievements throughout the game by passing levels and shooting down other planes. There are 200 achievements points to acquire in all and a leaderboards option to track your progress against other players.

I’ve had Rise of Glory since November and it’s still one of my go-to Windows Phone games when I’m bored or when I want to show off my phone’s capabilities to others. My biggest complaint is that some missions and checkpoints can take a while to fly through, so gameplay sometimes gets stagnate.

At $2.99 Rise of Glory is one of the must-have Windows Phone games for users. You can find this title by searching for “Rise of Glory” in the Zune PC software or on your Windows Phone device.



A few weeks ago, we had a first glimpse of the Ribbon making a presence in Windows 8. Much of the reception was negative, with many users claiming that too much screen real-estate was sacrificed. However, it seems that Microsoft has continued to build upon the Ribbon since then.

WinFuture was able unlock a couple of hidden features with the help of the Windows 8 community. Although most of us are still playing with our awfully outdated build that was compiled in September, fortunately for us, WinFuture was able to unlock these features in Windows 8 Build 7955. The exact build string was not given, but from our master list, we can see that this build was compiled only a few months ago.


So how does the Ribbon look now?

It looks almost the same at first glance, but the Ribbon is a lot more beefier now than it was before.

A much beefier Ribbon with many more options.

WinFuture stated that the Ribbon was able to be toggled off in this build. However, no screenshots were shown with the Ribbon off. You will see in the bottom right hand corner, that more display options have been added.


Sharing options, possible cloud or Windows Live ID integration?

The share menu still looks like a work-in-progress. It would be interesting to see if Microsoft will decide to add social-media links to its Ribbon.


Even pictures can be manipulated with basic controls from the Ribbon

Does this mean songs can be played without WMP being launched?


The quick access bar at the very top of the window pane will be customizable

Modern task manager is much more refined

Compared to the previous screenshots, we are seeing a Modern Task Manager that actually looks functionable.

Nested entries and additional info in header bar


Similar applications that show up as different applications are now grouped. Furthermore, the total usage of CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network are now indicated at the top in addition the details for each application. A link to the performance dashboard is also present.


CPU Details

Here we see the dashboard, showing more information about the CPU than is indicated in Windows 7. The clock speed and up-time are now indicated. In additional, core information is provided as well.

It would be interesting to see if Microsoft will take into consideration any feedback that is heard from these leaked screenshots.