Any Windows Surface RT users here?



  • If so, what are your thoughts/experiences?

    I still don't have a tablet and honestly don't need one. But I'm starting to trawl around for a cheap used/refurb 64GB Surface RT so I can try one out. Here's kind of what I'm looking for, but I've never actually used one.

    • Don't need full-blown Windows, I have an old Alienware M11X with Windows Pro 8.1 that is only slightly bigger than a netbook that fulfills any need for full-blown Windows in a portable package.
    • Portable machine for travel if I don't want/need my laptop.
    • Would like a touchscreen device to play some of those casual games from the Windows Marketplace that really call for touchscreen and don't work well on my PC or laptop with keyboard/mouse.
    • I have no investment in either the iOS or Android platforms and no interest in anything Apple.
    • Would like something "mainstream" (meaining not overclocked quad-core with 16 GB RAM and an AMD space-heater GPU) to experiment with building and testing Metro apps in Visual Studio. Obviously I'd be doing actual coding from my desktop.

  • sockdevs

    Used RT back when it was just Windows 8, it was okay, but i kept running into annoyances when i tried to do, well pretty much anything other than browse the interwebz. Got to the point where i chucked the thing on the breakroom table at work with a sign saying "FREE" and never looked back.

    If you are looking for a cheap windows 8 tablet I've had good luck with the Asus VivoTab Smart.1 It's about the same form factor as the surface RT, but with a couple of advantages:

    • It charges via Standard MicroUSB and supports USB OTG so you can plug in regular USB devices there with the purchase of a ~$5 cable
    • still has micro hdmi out, for when i'm traveling and want to watch netflix on the hotel room TV
    • has microSD, which i believe was missing in the RT (not positive)[^2]
    • full blown windows 8.1, and supports visual studio for on the go debugging (even though i use desktop for most development/debugging it is nice)
    • about as cheap as the used RT if you shop around and get the sales, cheaper than the pro, new or used.
    • Bluetooth is stable. I don't know if it was my device or not but the RT absolutely refused to have a BT device connected for five minutes straight without dropping the connection and then reconnecting about a second later. never had that issue with the VivoTab

    [^2] @rad131304 has informed me that the RT does have a microSD cardslot



  • That's really not much more expensive than what I was looking at.

    I should have qualified that RT is not a hard requirement, it was just an assumption that an RT system would be significantly cheaper.

    How is that ASUS with memory usage? Looks like it only has 2 GB. Is it upgradeable?


  • sockdevs

    memory is not upgradeable, but then i've yet to meet a tablet that is.

    there's a 4GB version floating around if you are willing to pay ~50-100$ extra for it. might be worth it.

    I have the 2GB version and it works fine. thrashes like crazy when i open VS, but i only do that when i'm tracking down a bug that i can't reproduce on the desktop, and i always try remote debugging first.

    the Vivotab also has an NFC reader/writer that is fun to play around with. although if you are doing windows apps maybe not so much. there isn't an NFC chip in any surface device.



  • I use mine mostly for surfing the internet when watching Netflix, controlling my Xbox, and light document editing (I have one of the touch keyboards, not type keyboards). Mostly, though, I use it on travel to watch stuff on TV when I can't get my Chromecast to work on the hotel internet.

    I've not looked at the games available in the Store recently, but they all seemed to suck pretty badly when Surface came out. I've not looked into it in a while, but there was some code you could use to enable desktop apps as long as they were compiled to run on RT (essentially any open source Windows app). I recall that the reason it works was that RT is essentially 100% Windows and just artificially limited by a single bit flag to run only a subset of the the CLR.

    It's light, it works for what I want it to do, and it has pretty awesome battery life. It's not what I would call a super capable, though.



  • Oh, also, you can set up a reparse point and add a 64GB microSD card as your documents library which works really well at effectively doubling your memory capacity for music and pictures.


  • sockdevs

    @rad131304 said:

    Oh, also, you can set up a reparse point and add a 64GB microSD card as your documents library which works really well at effectively doubling your memory capacity for music and pictures.

    So the RT does have an SD card slot. I thought that was exclusive to the pro.



  • My first gen does - I can't vouch for any others.


  • sockdevs

    fair enough.

    although you can technically set up that reparse point for any tablet/laptop with an additional drive in it, be it SATA/MSATA/microSD/magic fairy dust/other



  • @accalia said:

    fair enough.

    although you can technically set up that reparse point for any tablet/laptop with an additional drive in it, be it SATA/MSATA/microSD/magic fairy dust/other

    True, I only mentioned because it's the only way for you to put the libraries on there instead of on the internal drive. Windows won't let you target removable media in a Library.


  • sockdevs

    seriously, that's an actual restriction?

    WTF‽

    /me facepalm



  • @accalia said:

    seriously, that's an actual restriction?

    WTF‽

    /me facepalm

    Yup. My guess is that it has something to do with indexing.



  • Since 8.1 you can put libraries on external media cc @accalia

    I haven't tested it myself; all my stuff is on OneDrive, so with the selective sync stuff I end up not actually having anything stored on the internal memory and not needing an SD card.

    @mott555 said:

    If so, what are your thoughts/experiences?

    I have a 64GB first gen RT. It's really. slow... apps take a long time to start up and the poorly programmed ones (read: 95% of Windows 8 apps) have a lot of lag in the UI. If you want to get an RT device, and you want to enjoy using it, don't get the first gen surface.



  • Had a first-gen Surface RT. It was usable enough. Was great for long flights as I could just load up an external harddrive with movies/tv shows and watch for the entire flight. You will find IE starts to suffer with a lot of tabs open, and generally with a few apps suspended (remember, it's only got 2GB or so of RAM). Any speed issues you'll find are generally resolved in the Surface 2 though (which is $100 off right now too in the US (and maybe elsewhere)).
    Having Office and Remote Desktop were what made it really usable for me at the time. Although it's a little thicker (at least, in the first-gen) I'd suggest getting the Type Cover (the one with physical keys).

    My S1 got handed down to my gf when I got an SP2. Barely get any tech support requests from her about it; she uses it for watching tv shows off the home server, browsing, email and assignment work.
    For casual users (ie. non-power/technical users) it's a good device. If you're technical or a power user, you'll probably notice any lagging or limitations more, though if you go in with the right expectation (ie. as an iPad or Android style tablet with keyboard and Windows file management, rather than a lower-powered laptop) you will probably be fine.



  • Hmm, didn't realize there was a Surface 1 and a Surface 2. I'll have to pay more attention now.

    @Spencer said:

    though if you go in with the right expectation (ie. as an iPad or Android style tablet with keyboard and Windows file management, rather than a lower-powered laptop) you will probably be fine.

    This is what I'm going for. I know it isn't a low-powered laptop and I don't need it to fill that role because my M11X fits rather nicely into that niche.



  • @mott555 said:

    Hmm, didn't realize there was a Surface 1 and a Surface 2.

    There's a Surface 3, but it doesn't come in RT variety. It's supposed to be super-slick, but it's also like $1200.



  • That's a little pricey...for $1200 I'd be going after one of those slick MSI gaming laptops instead of a tablet.



  • Yeah. I'm gonna stick with my touchscreen ultrabook until it dies or until something makes it real obsolete, then see what the laptop/tablet market is like in a year and a half or whenever.

    If I had to replace it now, though, I'd be taking a looong look at a $1200 Surface 3 over a $1400 ultrabook...



  • Ha, I found this listing for a 64GB Surface 2. Granted, it's only 6", but there's a used one for $120!

    There's only one for $120 and the seller has a very strange definition of "Used - Acceptable."



  • And for some obligatory Discourse/Markdown bashing, I wish it would put a slight border around posted images. It's hard to tell that's actually two images with additional post content between them and not a single large image.


  • sockdevs

    @mott555 said:

    And for some obligatory Discourse/Markdown bashing, I wish it would put a slight border around posted images. It's hard to tell that's actually two images with additional post content between them and not a single large image.

    Especially if you're posting screenshots ;)


  • sockdevs

    @blakeyrat said:

    There's a Surface 3, but it doesn't come in RT variety. It's supposed to be super-slick, but it's also like $1200.

    if you want the i5+ yeah, we went for the i3 at work :-( and those are only about $700. and only VP level and up gets them, so far (i haz plans!)



  • Well if they all have SD card slots, I'll probably look at the 32 GB models instead. I don't really need a ton of storage space, I was originally looking at 64GB just to be safe and on the assumption that there was no options for expansion.



  • My entire laptop has 64 GB. 10 of that is my DropBox documents + backup + stuff. No problems getting by.



  • Just fulfilled my impulse buy of the month, ordered a refurbished Surface 2 RT 32GB for $280. That's almost worth it just for Microsoft Office, I'm still using Office 2007 on my desktop PC. Even has a full-size USB 3.0 port.



  • @rikkit said:

    Since 8.1 you can put libraries on external media cc @accalia

    Looks like I need to reconfigure my Surface. Thanks!



  • There's no 6" Surface devices, so they're being misleading there.
    Gen 1 and 2 of both the Surface Pro (the variants with Intel processors) and Surface (with ARM processors, known as RT) are 10.6" screens. The Surface Pro 3 has a 12" screen.
    There was supposed to be a Surface Mini with an 8" screen unveiled around the same time as the SP3, but they made a near-last-minute decision to hold back because it didn't differentiate itself enough.



  • Yeah, they all support microSDXC, so you can keep bumping that part of the storage as larger cards come out (128GB has only just started being available from a limited number of manufacturers). All your Windows Store apps and OS updates will be getting installed to the main drive though, not to the microSD card or external harddrive.



  • Very nice price. Well done.



  • I see 64 GB microSD cards on Newegg for around $35 so I'll probably pick one of those up just to have. I also have a 64 GB flash drive I always have in my pocket, so documents and stuff tend to go there instead of on the machine.

    I'm really not anticipating any storage space issues. I did some research and the consensus is these have about 18 GB of free space when new, which shouldn't be a problem since I won't be installing a butt-ton of standard Windows software.

    The price seemed great. That was always my gripe with Windows RT, too expensive for what it is and there were plenty of full-blown Windows options near the same price (not necessarily tablets though). But at sub-$300 it sounds like a great operating system.



  • @mott555 said:

    The price seemed great. That was always my gripe with Windows RT, too expensive for what it is. But at sub-$300 it sounds like a great operating system.

    And that pretty much sums up Windows RT at launch. Granted, Microsoft was pricing it to compete with the iPads (64GB Surface RT or Surface 2 was matched to just under the price of the latest-gen 64GB iPad), but it needed to be much cheaper to fly off the shelves (though that brings into question if the profit margin on the devices could support that at the time).


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @mott555 said:

    And for some obligatory Discourse/Markdown bashing, I wish it would put a slight border around posted images. It's hard to tell that's actually two images with additional post content between them and not a single large image.

    /* Stick a border around images */
    #wmd-preview img:not(.thumbnail), 
    .cooked img:not(.thumbnail) {
       padding:1px;
       border:1px solid #D8E5FB;
    }
    

    applied.


  • area_deu

    Now all the emojis are surrounded by squares. Was that intentional?
    EDIT: :turtle: :heart: :hamster:


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    :thumbsup:


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @aliceif said:

    Now all the emojis are surrounded by squares. Was that intentional?

    Knew something would break. No. It wasn't...


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    /* Stick a border around images */
    .lightbox img:not(.thumbnail) {
       padding:1px;
       border:1px solid #D8E5FB;
    }
    

    What's broken now? :)



  • So that's why I saw borders around quoted avatars for awhile.



  • There's a border around your trophy. Doesn't look bad though.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @mott555 said:

    There's a border around your trophy. Doesn't look bad though.

    Ah - it's back. That was put in place a while back to stop people (well one person) attempting to mimic it through the long name feature. It's unrelated to that CSS.

    Noticed it'd disappeared earlier, dunno why it's back though (or more pertinently why it disappeared to begin with)...



  • Update: My Surface came in today. Was a pain to get set up, somehow it was in a weird inconsistent state where it couldn't connect to a Microsoft account, Windows Updates didn't work, the Store didn't work and it was begging (and failing) to activate Windows. The work-around (keep in mind this is a brand-new refurb unit that presumably had the stock Windows install image and had never been booted from it before) was to do a hard reset, install some weird MS Knowledge Base patch, then run Windows Update. Importantly, Windows Update had to be run from the Control Panel and not from the Metro/Modern UI. After that, everything works.

    So aside from the pain in the arse getting it set up, so far so good. It feels fast and smooth, in fact the general Windows UI feels lightyears faster than on my Alienware laptop or on my behemoth desktop.

    Discourse works better too. It's faster, smoother, and the only real hiccup is touch-scrolling sometimes drags page elements at different rates and it looks like an old-school sidescroller with parallax layers.

    And I found an app called PassKeep that is compatible with KeePass password databases, otherwise I'd not be doing anything halfway fruitful.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @mott555 said:

    old-school sidescroller with parallax layers

    Good memories! But they don't belong in a discussion of forum software…



  • Well I like this thing enough that I'm going to start recommending these to my non-technical friends and family who are looking for a basic laptop and don't want to game. And Windows RT ought to save me some time from fixing their systems after malware and browser toolbars conquer it.


  • sockdevs

    @mott555 said:

    And Windows RT ought to save me some time from fixing their systems...

    Famous last words?


  • sockdevs

    that was ,y thought too.

    gen. custer's last stand



  • @mott555 said:

    a weird inconsistent state where it couldn't connect to a Microsoft account, Windows Updates didn't work, the Store didn't work and it was begging (and failing) to activate Windows. The work-around was to do a hard reset, install some weird MS Knowledge Base patch, then run Windows Update.

    I do remember encountering this before myself on my desktop PC (at least, the bit with being unable to use Windows Update or the Store). It's been a while, but that KB patch is what I think I used to get past it.



  • Being ARM, the common-variety Windows viruses don't work for starters. And most of the browsing should occur in Metro IE, which doesn't support toolbars (however, I don't even think desktop IE in Windows RT supports toolbars or addons. Certainly, they'd have to be compiled for ARM anyway). The WinRT (ie. Metro) execution environment is also heavily sandboxed, so anything that does manage to run shouldn't be able to get far (and any .exe or other executable files have to be signed with an approved certificate by default).

    It may be completely naïve to think that there will never be viruses created to infect Windows RT, but the difficulty and, currently, limited numbers of targets make it unlikely.



  • @mott555 said:

    The work-around (keep in mind this is a brand-new refurb unit that presumably had the stock Windows install image and had never been booted from it before) was to do a hard reset, install some weird MS Knowledge Base patch, then run Windows Update. Importantly, Windows Update had to be run from the Control Panel and not from the Metro/Modern UI. After that, everything works.

    I used to have to do something like this a couple of times a year with my old Win7 box. I now have a Win8.1 box for which a Kubuntu upgrader ate the boot entry. I haven't bothered to recover yet, and updates are several months old by now, so windows update will probably have issues again...


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