Microsoft Surface Hands-On

Microsoft’s Surface is finally out and reviews are a mixed bag thus far. I headed down to the Microsoft store in Times Square (where I had to wait in line just to get in) to check them out.  Customers in the store had every single Surface occupied and the conversations that I overheard were very positive from the customer standpoint in favor of the Surface.

When I finally got my hands on a unit, I was immediately impressed with the interface and control that Surface offers.  The touchscreen and keyboard combo works exceptionally well.

The keyboard works surprisingly well; however, it will definitely take some getting used to.  There is no tactile feedback from the keys. After a few minutes use though, I became more accustomed to the feel and my accuracy improved.  It is certainly a roomy keyboard for a tablet.  Likewise, the mousepad worked very well.

While the base 32GB model is available for $499 without Touch Cover (Microsoft’s name for its keyboard cover), the Surface is really made to be used with a keyboard.  The Touch Cover runs $120 if purchased separately – or it can be picked up with the 32GB Surface for $599, or with the 64GB model for $699.  There is also a Surface Type Cover (above), which is a rigid, classic keyboard that is only available separately for $130.  I tried both and could live with either; however, I feel like the Touch Cover is a more natural fit for the Surface.

Of course, the Surface feels nice without the keyboard attached as well.  However, I think you are doing the device a disservice to not have it available.

The kickstand is great and puts the Surface in a perfect upright position for laptop mode. The magnetic connection for the keyboard is strong and  sure.  There’s really no worry about it slipping off.

Additional connectivity features include a full-fledged Full-size USB 2.0, microSDXC card slot, Headset jack and HD video out port.

Lots of common tablet features (like scrolling and swiping) were intuitive and worked as expected.  There were several unique features and functions that took me a few minutes to become acclimated to – the URL bar appears at the bottom of Internet Explorer and requires you to swipe your finger from the bottom, then up to reveal it.


I wanted to get the feel of whether I could replace some of my key laptop functions with the Surface, and my initial impression is that I could get most of the way there.  However, the scant selection of photo management and editing apps in the Microsoft App Store means there would be some limitations.  I think a few months down the road, as the app store populates, it will fully be there.

You can order the Surface direct from Microsoft’s website.

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