I finally got a chance to get my hands on a Surface today. Overall, it’s a nice product. The build quality is about as solid as you could expect from something that isn’t made of metal. But you’ve heard about that already. You’ve heard that in the desktop mode, it’s a little sluggish, that the UI doesn’t seem to be fully designed for a tablet-only experience. You’ve probably even heard that holding it in landscape feels awkward, regardless of how much content you can see at once.
So I’m going to skip all of that. Here’s what you need to know about the Surface. This device is the opposite of what the iPad has become. Today, the large-screen iPad pushes up toward the laptop replacement zone. It has apps that allow content creation, sometimes cleverly, sometimes awkwardly. The Surface, however, pushes downward into the tablet category. From my (admittedly limited) experience with the device, it appears to have been designed from the beginning as a replacement for your laptop that can be used as a tablet in a pinch. As a tablet-secondary device, it is much better than anything that has come before it. As a pure-tablet, there are far too many places where the Surface seems to say, “You’re supposed to use the keyboard for that.”