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Buy Microsoft's Surface Or Settle For An IPad?

Microsoft's new Surface tablet was up for pre-order earlier last week and the company has said the device is more than a tablet and less then a PC. Let's take a closer look at what it has to offer.

Surface tablet runs on Windows RT and not Windows 8. So what's different about Windows RT? Well, it does not run legacy windows applications. Legacy apps are all the Windows applications that you've been running on your Windows desktop or laptop over years. The new operating system is only compatible with most of the Metro Style applications. So in simple terms, Windows RT will not run any desktop Windows applications beyond the applications that are bundled with the operating system. This also means that you cannot not install browsers like Opera, Chrome and Firefox.

The list of bundled applications includes Paint, Word Pad, Office Home and & Student 2013 RT and a few more. Unfortunately, RT does not come with Windows Media Player and Outlook. The absence of the Outlook application is not the only problem when it comes to Office use, Windows RT does not also support Active Directory (AD).

Microsft deserves a pat on the back for the Surface's excellent build quality for its hardware. By blending a fine selection of metals and plastic, the tablet feels like solid when held. The Surface weighs about 1.5 pounds or 0.68 kg and is a little heavy when held for a long period of time. It has a screen size of 10.6 inches in 16:9 ratio.

Thanks to its ARM designed Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 2GB of RAM, it boasts good battery efficiency and slick performance. The tablet comes with USB 2.0 connectivity, a micro-video port for which you can get HDMI or VGA adaptors, and a Micro SDXC card slot. It also has front and rear cameras.

Microsoft prescribes that you pick up an attachable Keyboard Cover ($119). The company might call it an additional item, but the tablet feels incomplete without it. While the keypad is decent on a solid surface, it fails completely when you try using the tablet like a laptop or net book. The keyboard is fairly useless on your lap. So forget using it on the run while in a train or car. Like Microsoft said, 'it isn't a Laptop or Tablet', its lost somewhere in between.

Pricing starts at $499 for the base 32GB model, plus an additional$119 for the cover keyboard which you will definitely need. The 64GB model is priced at $699 and comes bundled with the touch keyboard.

And how does this device compare to the iPad and other tablets? Microsoft's main pitch for the Surface stated that it was a powerful tablet for office use. But unlike the iPad, which started the "bring your own system to work" movement, the Surface is not suited for office use as yet. It looks like Microsoft started out well with a novel idea of a tablet-laptop mix, added some excellent hardware, but messed up when it came to the actual operating system and software.

Yes, the platform has tons of potential and will be a force to reckon with in the future if it has a wider offering of applications. But for now, the iPad is still a better buy not only as an all rounder, but even for Office use. Also to consider is the splendid Google Nexus 10 that was launched on October 29th.

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by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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