As you know, I recently quit my day job to become a full-time blogger and freelance writer, and even before I made the leap I was pretty much a full-time blogger… I was just doing my blogging at night! My love of blogging and writing means that my most valued possession is my computer. I wouldn’t have a livelihood without it! That said, while I’m on the road frequently I really don’t like traveling with my computer because I’m terrified something will happen to it (like a power surge killing my computer battery). I have been traveling with the Microsoft Surface RT since November and I have to recommend it as the best tablet for frequent travelers… especially travelers who need access to a full keyboard!
The keyboard is what really makes the Microsoft Surface stand out to me. I spend most of my time blogging, which means that I need to be able to type and I need to be able to type quickly. Tapping on a screen isn’t going to do it for me, and working with a mini keyboard isn’t optimal either. The detachable keyboard that comes with the Surface works great and is the same size keyboard that would come attached to a netbook, so it’s a little smaller than normal but not too bad. While I’ve taken the Surface on myriad weekend trips I have also taken it on two week-long trips where it was my only computing device. I did all of my blogging from it without any problems.
Here’s a breakdown of what I love about the Microsoft Surface RT:
1. Though I’m almost always typing, it’s convenient to be able to remove the keyboard when necessary. Also, it comes in so many different colors! I currently have pink, blue, and black keyboards! (And yes, the keyboard really does make the fun snapping sound that you hear in the Microsoft Surface commercials whenever you attach it.)
2. The Surface has a full web browser, so I can browse any site I normally do and bookmark my favorites.
3. The Surface sure beats carrying a full laptop onto an airplane! I am the unlucky person who gets on the plane and has the person in front of her lowering their seat before the plane ever takes off. When this happens with a laptop I normally have to readjust into an uncomfortable position as I try to maneuver things so I can see the screen and type at the same time. That issue completely disappears with the Surface, as the person in front of me can lower their seat and it still doesn’t come close to touching the top of the Surface.
4. Access to Xbox Music and Xbox Video is the best! As you can see above I used Xbox Video to catch up on Scandal. I had to pay to purchase season 1, but it was SO worth it.
5. Superficially speaking, the Surface just LOOKS cute. And at just over a pound, it won’t weigh down your purse so you can have your tech and look cute too. You can also accessorize in the best way possible, with items like a Rebecca Minkoff Surface Sleeve (mine is hot pink) or an Oh Joy! Wireless Mouse (which you can see above).
6. Speaking of the Oh Joy! Wireless Mouse, life has been so much easier since I got one. There’s a track pad on the Surface that I’ve become adept at using, but the mouse is definitely the way to go.
7. The Microsoft Surface comes fully-loaded with Windows RT as well as all Office applications, including MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. As I mentioned in my Windows Phone review, I don’t have Office on my everyday computer, so it’s great that I can rely on the Surface when I need these programs. I also really like how Windows RT lets you customize your home screen. You can see how I’ve arranged my screen above. Clearly the TV-watching component is very important to me, which is why I made Netflix and the ABC Player so big. For those of you who aren’t a fan of Windows RT, at the touch of a button you can change to the traditional Windows desktop.
8. At will I can switch between using the touch screen and using the keyboard, which is awesome. What I wouldn’t give to be able to pinch my fingers and expand the size of an image on my computer screen regularly. Alas, this perk is reserved for the Surface. I actually find myself switching between the touch screen and the keyboard fairly often. Sometimes it’s just easier to touch the screen to close a box than it is to use the mouse to close the box, you know?
There are, of course, a couple of things I don’t love about the Surface as well. The main issue I’ve had is that the app store is somewhat limited. The one thing I REALLY need to be able to seamlessly blog 100% of the time from the Surface without any interruptions is Photoshop. While I’ve heard that you can load Photoshop onto the Microsoft Surface Pro, I am unable to load it onto the RT. I’ve searched for comparable photo editing apps in the Windows App Store but just haven’t been able to find one that works nearly as well. Likewise, while I was on that trip to LA I tried to make a short video, but I couldn’t find a video editor in the app store. That was really frustrating. I tried out a bunch of different apps, but eventually just deleted the video because I couldn’t find a proper way to edit it.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m at a hotel I tend to work from bed. There are two components of the Surface that make this tough (but not impossible) to pull off.
- There’s a kickstand on the back of the Surface which is what helps the tablet stay upright. Currently there is only one angle that you can adjust to, and while it’s a great angle if the Surface is on a desk, it’s not a great angle if the Surface is in your lap. While at the hotel I ended up forgoing using the kickstand and propping it up against a pillow instead.
- The soft keyboard also makes it hard to type from one’s lap while laying in bed. Life is hard, guys. A lot of times I found myself holding the keyboard with one hand and punching out single letters with the other. Not terribly effective, but I was also half watching TV so I wasn’t blogging for efficiency. When I got tired of this method I’d give up and head back over to the desk.
My complaints with the Surface are actually quite minor compared to the benefits I’ve gotten out of it. Honestly, before receiving the Surface I had decided that tablets just weren’t for me. I’m in what seems to be a very small minority of people that just doesn’t like the iPad (please don’t take away my Mac cult card!), and if I didn’t like that then I wasn’t sure I’d ever like any other tablet. Turns out I was wrong. I was just waiting to find the Surface.
Do you take a tablet on the road or do you prefer your computer (or, gasp, no computer at all)? Have you tried a Microsoft Surface? What are your thoughts?
Disclosure: While I was provided with a complimentary Microsoft Surface, I was never asked to write a review. I am reviewing the Surface because I love the product and use it frequently while traveling. If I did not truly believe the Surface makes a great travel accessory I would not have written this post.