Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.
One of the best parts of any tablet is having a high-resolution screen and hard drive full of movies and music to carry around with you. Windows RT is capable for supporting entertainment on the go. While your purchases will be locked into the Windows Store ecosystem, the drag and drop desktop makes it easy to import files you already own, and Microsoft has formed a comprehensive, if expensive, media ecosystem using the Xbox name as an umbrella. Thanks to this synergy, anything you purchase on a Windows RT (or Windows 8) device will be living room ready on your Xbox 360.
Purchasing and renting television and movies is done through the Video app found on the Start screen. Once inside, you'll see that its been branded with the name Xbox Video. The video quality gets as high as 1080p for films, with the choice of opting for SD to save a few bucks. Users are also given the option to stream or download their purchases. Download speeds and stream buffer rates are over WiFi are competitive with services like iTunes, as is the selection.
However, the prices are not. Take, for example, the newly released "Men in Black 3." An HD download or stream will cost you $19.99, while it will cost you $17.99 on iTunes or $14.99 on Amazon. Further examples include "The Amazing Spiderman," an HD copy will run you $19.99 on Xbox Video, $17.99 on iTunes and $12.99 on Amazon.
TV prices are on par though, with episodes of "The Walking Dead" season 3 in HD going for $2.99 a pop, same as Amazon and iTunes. Xbox Video also offer a season pass for a competitive $42.03.
Xbox Music is an interesting mix of storefront and streaming music service. Albums can be streamed, with ads, internet radio style, or purchased for your library. There's also the option to subscribe to a premium, ad-free version for US$9.99, AU$11.99 and UK£8.99. Those prices suggest Microsoft wants to take Spotify head-on, and with 30 million tracks, they might be able to.
We think the streaming service is an excellent option for someone with more than one Microsoft device. It lets you enjoy a ton of tracks without committing to the ecosystem in the way that album purchases will force you to. If you plan to jam out on the go with a Windows Phone 8, or you have an Xbox 360, Windows 8 or Windows RT device hooked into decent speakers, it's more than worth the money.
As far as album purchases go, Xbox Music is priced to compete for new music, but older albums are a bit steep. For example, Green Day's latest album "¡Dos!" is priced to move at $9.99, the same you'd pay on iTunes. Amazon beats Microsoft and Apple though, selling a download for $5.00.
However, the band's 1994 album "Dookie,"goes for $9.99. iTunes only wants $7.99 but Amazon wins again at $6.99.
Windows RT is rather limited when it comes to file formats. For videos, it only supports WMV and MK4 files. MKV and AVI files are sadly out of the question. RT plays nicer with audio files. it supports M4A, MP3, MPEG, WMA, AAC and a few more.
To summarize, Microsoft has assembled a storefront with a competitive selection but rather high prices. If you're someone who's already steeped in the ecosystem thanks to Xbox 360, you'll love having access to what you've already purchased. If not, being able to be a single fee for streaming music is a good deal.
Otherwise, the Windows Store is a bit of a walled garden, and a pricey one at that. Other than bringing in MP3s via thumb drive, there's no good way of importing media from other sources.