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Microsoft Surface RT review

7.3/10 AVG.
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Microsoft Surface RT
Microsoft Surface RT
Microsoft Surface RT
Microsoft Surface RT

Informr score
The Microsoft Surface RT currently has an Informr score of 7.3 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 34 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

Tablet computers have been around for a very long time now. And so has Windows. But combining the two traditionally hasn’t resulted in a very good product. Enter the Microsoft Surface RT tablet. It’s the culmination of Microsoft’s most recent efforts to “reimagine” Windows and mobile computing in general. Though there have been many attempts at making Windows-powered tablet computers in the past, those usually turned out to be either inadequate in terms of power, or simply too expensive to be worth considering. With the Surface RT tablet, Microsoft aims to bring a successful Windows-powered solution to the tablet computing market once and for all. Has it finally managed to accomplish this seemingly impossible task?

In trying, Microsoft outfitted its Surface RT with a 10.6-inch, 1366x768 touchscreen display which can be paired with an external keyboard for the “full” Windows 8 experience. As an ARM-based device, it uses a 1.3GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, much like many of the most popular Android-based tablet computers of today. Other hardware features include 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out, and a microSD card slot. Notably absent features include NFC and LTE cellular connectivity, which means that for the time being, it’s Wi-Fi-only.

It's hard to talk about this tablet without mentioning its innovative cover. The smart cover option lets users choose between a Touch Cover, which has pressure-sensitive keys, and a Type Cover, which has actual scissor-switch keys, to type stuff with. These covers, which are available separately, make typing on the go a lot easier and also protect the tablet when it’s not in use. Though technically, it isn’t a part of the tablet itself, the well-designed addition is counted by many as one of its best features.

This tablet is truly interesting, and it looks ready to take the world tablet PC market by storm. But its job isn’t just to wow people who have never used a Windows tablet before. It also has to convince people that Android or iOS aren’t worthy alternatives. It has to be so good that people would be willing to go for the smaller app ecosystem and miss out on some of today’s most advanced hardware features. By itself, it’s certainly impressive, but once you pit it up against the likes of the iPad or the Nexus 10, things start to sober up.

At the end of the day, a choice has to be made, and the people who end up with the Surface RT from Microsoft are bound to be the ones who choose to try a new perspective. Microsoft says it’s time for a change, and here it is offering something different. The question is, are you ready for it?

Need to Know: Microsoft Surface RT

1. Uses a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC and ships with 2GB of RAM. (The Good)

2. Has an HD touchscreen display with 5-point multi-touch support. (The Good)

3. Touch Cover and Type Cover accessories cost extra. (The Bad)

4. Windows RT feels like a gimped version of Windows 8 for the desktop. (The Bad)

Operating system
Operating system
1.3 GHz
1.3 GHz
Screen Size
Screen Size
1+ MP
1+ MP
31 WHr

What the Critics Are Saying...


So, Offroad Legends 2 isn’t quite perfect but it is reasonably enjoyable. While you’ll sometimes be frustrated by its unfair moments, it’s mostly a good way to scratch that physics-based racing itch.

- Jennifer Allen, 148Apps
Pocket Gamer
Pocket Gamer

There's nothing particularly broken about Offroad Legends 2. It does what it sets out to do admirably well. It just misses a few crucial beats that could have made it essential.You'll have fun while you're playing it, but it often feels that, with a tweak here and a new idea there, you could be havi...

- Harry Slater, Pocket Gamer

Surface makes you want to pick it up and play, pleases you with the delivery of Windows RT and the live tiles make it feel personal and alive.Performance is a real issue, but since Tegra is at the heart of high performing tablets, we hope that RT can be tweaked to iron out slowdown issues.Microsoft'...

- James Stables and Dan Grabham, TechRadar
PC Pro
PC Pro

One of our biggest original criticisms of the Surface RT was its lack of performance. That objection has mostly been wiped away by the firmware updates. The new version of Office also feels much better tied to the operating system, even if it still has those annoying restrictions.As a standalone tab...

- Barry Collins, PC Pro
Tablet News
Tablet News

Microsoft Surface RT gets a 9.5 out of 10 for design, a 9 for the hardware, minus the camera and an 8.3 for the OS and UI, that feels unfinished and incomplete, compared to Windows 8 and other platforms out there. I frankly prefer the ASUS VivoTab RT as a Windows RT device and that’s why this...

- James A., Tablet News

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Quick view

Screen Size

The Microsoft Surface RT's screen size is 10.6 inches with x pixels resolution.

1.3 GHz

There is a ARM Cortex-A9 Quad-core 1.3 GHz processor (CPU).


The tablet runs on proprietary operating system firmware.

1+ MP
You can take photos or capture video with the tablet's onboard 1+ MP camera. There is also a secondary front facing camera with 1+ megapixels resolution.
32/64 GB

Internal memory is 32/64 GB. An external, MicroSD, MicroSDHC (up to 64 GB) expansion slot is available for increased storage capacity.


The tablet is powered by a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion), 31 WHr battery. Microsoft's performance ratings are 15 days standby time, 8 hours Wi-Fi surfing.

Surface RT Specs

Release Date October 26, 2012
Regions Available USA, Canada
Operating System No

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Processor ARM Cortex-A9 Quad-core 1.3 GHz
Internal Storage 32/64 GB
Hearing Aid Compatible No
SAR Body: 1.5 W/kg
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included AC Charger, Manual
Mobile / Cellular Data
No (Option available)
Wi-Fi Calling No
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) No
SIM card size
Dual SIM No
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth 4.0
Bluetooth Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, OPP/FTP, HFP, HSP
Bluetooth Audio Codecs SBC
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Memory Expansion Slot Yes
Expansion Slot Info MicroSD, MicroSDHC (up to 64 GB)
Main Camera
Resolution / Aperture
1+ Megapixels
Additional Main Camera Info
Brightness control
Video Recording Formats
3GP / 3GPP, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4
Video Recording Parameters
HD (1280 x 720 pixels)
Front Camera
Resolution / Aperture
1+ Megapixels
Additional Front Camera Info
Video Recording Parameters
Display / Screen
Type Color
Technology LCD
Colors 16.7 million
Resolution x pixels
Pixel density 148 pixels
Size 10.6 inches
Sensors Ambient Light, Motion / Accelerometer, Gyroscope
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Yes
Screen Orientation Lock Yes
Multi-Touch Yes
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Additional Display Features Capacitive touch screen
Power & Battery
Type Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Battery Capacity 31 WHr
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging No
Fast Charging No
Battery Charge Time 4 hours
Video Playback Time Up to 8 hours
Internet Use (Wi-Fi) Up to 8 hours
Internet Use (Cellular) Unknown
Standby Time Up to 15 days
Mixed Usage
Physical Characteristics
Material Magnesium alloy
Colors Dark Titanium
Dimensions [H x W x D] 27.5 x 17.2 x 0.9 cm (10.8 x 6.8 x 0.4 in)
Weight 680 grams
Water Resistant / Waterproof Unknown
Rugged design No
IP Rating No
Headset Jack Yes
External Speakers Stereo
Input / Navigation
Touchscreen Yes
Sleep / Wake Key No
Home Key Yes
Physical keyboard No
Text-to-Speech No
Screen Reader No
Keypad/Screen Lock Yes
External Volume Control Yes
Fingerprint Sensor No
Additional Information Graphics: Yes
Themes: Yes
Backlit Illumination: Yes
Zoom / Magnification: Yes
Screen Orientation Lock: Yes
Predictive Text Entry: No
Keypad/Screen Lock: Yes
Web Browser: Yes
Email Client: Yes
Email Protocols: POP3, IMAP, SMTP, Microsoft Exchange
PC Synchronization: Yes
Audio Formats: MIDI, MP3, MP4, eAAC+, AAC+, AAC, WAV
Video Playback Formats: 3GP / 3GPP, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4
Streaming Video: Yes
Custom Ringtones: No
Vibration Alert: Yes
Viewable document types: DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS
Games: Downloadable
Apps: Downloadable
Included Software / Apps: -
Calendar, World Clock, Calculator, NotePad, Voice Memos / Recorder

Other Names (AKA):
Related Links Quick Start Guide (PDF)
Manual (PDF)
Microsoft Surface RT Reviews
Where to buy Microsoft Surface RT
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