Microsoft Surface RT review

Microsoft heeds its competitors' lessons with its Windows RT tablet

TODO alt text

With Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10 comes in two flavours, the traditional desktop version and a 'metro' or 'Modern UI' version that runs within Windows RT's HTML 5 Start screen.

The former is exactly the experience you'd find on any Windows 7 PC, and the pros and cons of Internet Explorer are covered extensively in our review here.

It works well, is snappy and responsive, but the experience is woeful on a touchscreen device, with tiny areas making navigation painful.

Enter the new Windows 8 version, which offers a touch-friendly interface for users of devices such as Surface.

It takes a little getting used to, with tabs revealed by swiping from the top, for example, and the lack of plug-ins and features again will leave power users frustrated.

The experience is enhanced because all superfluous elements have to be toggled, such as the address bar, options and tabs. You have to swipe from the bottom or top to reveal these features, which leaves the viewing experience clean and pure.

Tilt the tablet into portrait mode and IE reflows the page smartly, although the change was far from snappy and sites often stopped responding momentarily.

Microsoft Surface review

Bookmarks, however, are a huge oversight of the Modern UI version of Internet Explorer.

To open a bookmarked site you need to load a blank tab, and then scroll across to one of your favourites. It's unintuitive and unsuited to large amounts of favourites and will certainly cause frustration for people who are used to using large lists of bookmarks.

We also found that compatibility with some sites was lacking, showing that, like the Windows Store, the 'metro' version of Internet Explorer is still a work in progress.

Microsoft Surface review

Some sites became unresponsive and sometimes elements wouldn't load. An example of this is close to home: the comments section on TechRadar doesn't load in Internet Explorer, and there are plenty of these types of quirks, or errors as we like to call them, which make using the built-in browser frustrating.

Hopefully Microsoft can iron out these problems quickly, because it does detract from a smooth, clear and visually pleasing experience.

Pinch-and-zoom was fast and responsive, fonts rendered quickly, and sites filled the 16:9 screen to offer an excellent experience.

Microsoft Surface review

What's more, with flash support built in, Microsoft has the opportunity to provide the best tablet browsing experience on the market.

Of course, you could try a different browser, but as this is Windows RT you can only choose from what's on offer on Windows Store. At the time of writing, Mozilla is preparing a version of Firefox but it's yet to appear, and there's no Google Chrome or Opera yet.


Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Flash Memory Capacity32 GB
Processor ManufacturerNVIDIA
Graphics Controller ManufacturerNVIDIA
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time8 Hour
Product FamilySurface RT
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformWindows
ColourDark Titanium
Operating SystemWindows RT
Brand NameMicrosoft
Form FactorSlate
Processor Speed1.30 GHz
Processor TypeTegra 3
Screen Size26.9 cm (10.6")
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Standard Memory2 GB
Weight (Approximate)680 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Memory Card ReaderYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyClearType
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0 + EDR
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution900 Kilopixel
Height172 mm
Width274.6 mm
Depth9.4 mm
Screen ModeHD
ManufacturerMicrosoft Corporation
Product NameSurface RT Tablet
Product LineSurface RT
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberJ5Z-00005
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing InformationSleek. Slim.

Ultra-thin and light, Surface RT is on-the-go tablet. With 8 hours of battery life, it lasts the whole day. Or the whole flight.

Always. Connected.

With Connected Standby, you are always connected even when you Surface is asleep. See social networking posts, emails and text messages on the lock screen and keep up with all the people you care about most.

Get yours

Now's the time to buy your Surface RT. Pick a cover colour, personalise your Home Screen, and take it places you never thought you could go.
Package Contents
  • Surface RT Tablet
  • AC Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year