Microsoft Surface RT review: First look

The Windows RT tablet is shaping up to be a compelling alternative to the iPad.

But and it's a big but there's something about the Surface that makes you forgive these foibles. There's the kickstand, shown in action above, which folds perfectly flat against the back of the Surface when not in use.

All the gestures seem to work so well that you'll soon be flicking between applications (swipe in from the left) and jumping to the app's hidden features (swipe in from the bottom).

It helps that it's pretty light too: around 680g, or 1.5lbs. It feels well balanced, although just like the iPad you wouldn't want to hold it one-handed for long.

There's much more that could be said about the bright 10.6in screen, the clever webcam that films at exactly the right angle when you use the kick-out stand, the way it integrates with an Xbox so you can display films on your TV screen, the fact it includes a microSD card so you can expand storage but if I carry on in that vein even I'll start to believe I've drank the Microsoft Kool-Aid.

In short, we've seen very few Windows 8 tablets that would give Apple any cause for concern, but the Surface really should. It's been designed with the same from-the-ground-up ethos that marks the iPad, and the end result will be hugely compelling to both home and business users.

And now I'm going to save this file to a USB thumbdrive because I'm being kicked out of the theatre how handy that a USB slot is built in.

Microsoft Surface RT USB port

This article first appeared on our sister website PC Pro.

Verdict

The RT packs excellent hardware and has plenty of promise for both consumers and business users. It remains to be seen how good uptake, but it will certainly give Apple something to think about.

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