Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Review of the Surface RT Tablet

Thank you Microsoft! 
Can you believe that 10,000 educators received a free Surface RT tablet at the ISTE conference?  And I'm one of the lucky "few".  This tablet has a $495.00 value.  Check it out on Amazon.

When I first opened my Surface, I felt a bit out of my comfort zone.  I did not have much experience with Windows 8. 
It didn't take me long to get used to navigating Windows 8.  I like this video on Windows 8 for anyone feeling overwhelmed or confused.  Humorous but thorough.  

Here are the features I liked that make the Surface RT better than an iPad.  I know you're thinking, did Deb really say, "Better than an iPad?"  Yes, I sure did.  

  • The External Keyboard! - We were given a keyboard that snaps magnetically to the tablet.  And it is one sweet keyboard!  It is flat with slightly raised keys and a very nice mouse pad (works similar to my MacBook Air).  One really useful feature is that the keys play a clicking noise when touched, so there is no question as to whether a key was pushed.  The back side of the keyboard is made of a soft felt (to clean the screen of the tablet perhaps?).

  • The Lock Screen - To use the tablet, you first must set up a Microsoft Account using an existing email address.  You also choose a password.  Then, to get onto your device, you simply click or touch anywhere and enter your password to get onto the tablet.  

  • The Keyboard on the Tablet- If I choose not to use the external keyboard, I can simply use the keyboard on the tablet.  It is the size of a full keyboard.  I am getting used to it.  It seems to be much more sensitive than the keyboard on an iPad.
  • Numbers and Symbols -Notice that when I touch the key to type numbers, I get symbols and a number pad.  I use the number pad all the time on a regular keyboard, so this is great for me.  My only complaint is that I can't rest my hands on the tablet keyboard because it will type what ever I am touching.
  • A USB Port - The Surface RT tablet has a USB port!  Why is this useful?  I can connect my printer with a USB connection, I can connect a jump drive, a mouse, a camera etc.  I have always wished that an iPad would have this feature.  I printed a document from the Surface to my printer with no need for downloading software or fuss.  Just connect the USB from my printer and print.  LOVE IT!

  • The Stand - On the back of the Surface there is a fold-out stand.  It does not close unless I want it to close.  One of my biggest complaints of the iPad is that you have to purchase a cover with a stand to allow the iPad to stand up.  And most covers and stands are flimsy and don't hold up well.

  • Lastly, the Camera.  To show you how well the camera and video recorder work, I took some pictures and created a video for your enjoyment.  You can decide if you think the camera and video are as good as an iPad. 
Photo taken of our back yard taken with the Surface RT.

Make your own slideshow at Animoto.

There are still some features that I need to figure out and work around, such as how to share a video that I take.  I'm used to using the app by Apple to transfer pictures and videos to my PC.  I haven't found a comparable Windows app.
There are not as many apps available from the Windows store as there are from the Apple Store. 

In my opinion, the Surface RT has huge potential in the classroom.   Of course I still love my iPad and will use it as well.  I always find that the more devices, platforms and operating systems I am familiar with, the better.  This goes for students as well.  Students should be introduced to a variety of devices and should learn how to become familiar with them.  After all, devices, platforms and operating systems are going to continue change throughout their lives.  


EdTechSandyK said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Surface RT! I, too, have been experimenting with the one I received at ISTE.

Here's a couple of things your post made me think of - have you noticed you can change the kind of onscreen keyboard you're using? At the bottom right of the onscreen keyboard is a keyboard "key". Tap it, and you can choose to use a full keyboard just like the one on any standard computer. I LOVE not having to go to a second screen to get my numbers and special characters. (That's one of the things that annoys me about the iOS onscreen keyboard).

As far as sharing goes, if you swipe in from the RIGHT on the screen, you will see a SHARE icon. I haven't set everything up yet that I need to to make it work, but I do believe that is the key to sending things by email, Twitter, etc.

Thanks for posting the video. So far I've been finding things out by experimentation or asking others who've used Windows 8 before. Closing programs and finding all the open ones are still a little awkward for me. I'll for sure be watching the video you posted. :-)

Deb Norton said...

Thanks for the tip on the keyboard key. Very helpful. I have used the SHARE icon and am finding it pretty useful. You have to give permissions to the different apps in order to use the SHARE feature.
I really like using Chrome as my browser, so I can't wait until Windows 8 allows for the download of Chrome.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick clarification, Deb: it isn't Windows 8 RT that doesn't allow for the download of Chrome, it is Google choosing not to support Windows 8 RT. There isn't anything Microsoft can do - Google gets to choose what devices they build for, they don't particularly want a competitor to the Chromebook, probably won't get Chrome for the RT. =[