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Microsoft Surface Fails to Impress

/ Oct 30th, 2012 25 Comments

Microsoft Surface

The Microsoft Surface is the latest gadget touted by Microsoft as they enter a marketplace that’s already saturated and dominated by the competition. Instead of a shoddy MP3 player (see ZUNE), it’s the Microsoft Surface tablet being sold at a price point that is only rivaled by the best-in-class iPad (4th generation), coming with an unproven operating system plus a completely unknown marketplace for apps. The Microsoft Surface fails to impress on many levels, from the interface, to the available apps, to the size and much, much more. The Windows RT edition of the device just doesn’t measure up at all, and the Windows 8 Pro edition has yet to have a price or availability announcement to date.

[adsense250itp]Taking a look at the specs behind the Microsoft Surface, we see an underwhelming list of features for the Windows RT edition (the one you can buy now) that is worthy of hardware that came out years ago. It ships with Windows RT which has impressed on the mobile phone platform. However, its massive size at 10.81″ long makes it the the biggest of the mainstream full-sized tablet devices – a piece of hardware that’s supposed to tout mobility. The weight is 1.5 lbs, which is close to but certainly over what the iPad has at 1.44 lbs. The screen is touted to be a “ClearType HD Display” which runs at 1366×768; meanwhile the folks at Apple have their units running at 2048×1536. That’s not even close, folks. The “better” version of the Surface will run Windows 8 Pro, have 64GB of storage, offer a 1080p resolution screen and even have an Intel Core i5 processor. The only problem with all that stuff that made you start salivating is that Microsoft hasn’t announced when that version will be out, nor what it’ll cost. You can bet your backside it won’t be offered at the $499 price point the Windows RT edition is selling at currently!

Other specs from the currently released edition of the Microsoft Surface include two 720p cameras, a full-sized USB port, a microSDXC slot (nice) and included home productivity apps like Microsoft Office Home and Internet Explorer. There’s some integration for us gamer folks (Xbox Music, Video and Games) but the power behind all of the Xbox integration has yet to be realized.

What’s really surprising about the Microsoft Surface after reading the specs is that it’s clearly a notch below what Apple is offering with the iPad, which is the established leader in the space. If Microsoft wants to make waves and take on the best-in-class, they need to offer more with their entry-level tablet compared to the competition while also pricing it lower. While I might be a little critical of the Microsoft Surface, Microsoft is at least giving it a try, but in the end, fails to measure up when digging deeper.

One competitive advantage, to some people at least, is that the Microsoft Surface offers a Black Touch Cover that doubles as a keyboard for the unit. It’s a neat idea that can be duplicated rather easily once others catch on, but Microsoft is asking for a whopping $100 on top of the cost of the Zune – WHOOPS – I mean Microsoft Surface for this special cover. Let’s take a look at a sample order to try to compare apples to Apple.

Microsoft Surface (RT Model), 32GB model, no cover = $499.
Apple iPad, 32GB model, no cover = $599.

Kudos to Microsoft for offering their unit $100 less than the Apple iPad. But – and this is a major but folks – there’s no comparing the processing power. The Apple iPad runs off of the much heralded A6 processor while the Microsoft Surface runs off of the quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor.

If that Surface processor sounds familiar, it really should. It’s the very same processor used in the Google Nexus 7 (16GB) model that runs for half of the cost of a Microsoft Surface at $249. On various respected tech websites the comparisons aren’t close at all – the A6 is the clear winner. So while you might be saving $100 by going with the Surface, you’re getting a product with an inferior amount of processing power and speed.

Regretfully, the announcement of the Microsoft Surface fails to impress. What I had hoped to be a nice entry into the market was instead replaced with an entry-level device that really doesn’t measure up at all. The more prestigious unit that has all the right specs hasn’t been officially released or announced, or really had much information about it released, forcing it to miss a critical holiday shopping window. It’s clear when looking at the specs of the currently released model, plus considering the much more exciting model isn’t out or has its price known, that the announcement and launch of the Microsoft Surface comes as a letdown and fails to impress this tech savvy consumer.

Sean Gibson

Sean Gibson

Founder, Featured Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Sean Gibson was the founder of Gaming Illustrated and served as Executive Editor and lead reviewer from 2002 to 2014. He no longer is affiliated with Gaming Illustrated, but remembers his time with the site fondly.
Sean Gibson
Sean Gibson
Sean Gibson

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