Surface RT Delivery & Unboxing & First Boot [Day 1]

So the Surface RT is finally here, after waiting for them to be released in batches (due to sheer numbers). After having till the end of the week, and an evening out with friends, I finally get into the boxes and charge. I have waited for almost six weeks and have, as a colleague rightly put it, felt like a kid painfully waiting for Christmas morning. No pressure for the Surface RT then!

So I love the polished packaging (dare I say reminiscent of Apple – but still distinctly different) that allowed quick access to the device and accessories (charger and type keyboard)
And the charger is elegant if a little bulky (Well I think so)

 

  1. Firstly get the tablet on charge! Otherwise it will take time to update.
  2. If you have a MicroSD card it will slot in under the kickstand at the back (printed side facing away from device, contact side facing towards)
  3. Attach keyboard (apparently you need it to be detected to have relevant associated update to be installed)
  4. Choose language
  5. Accept license terms
  6. Choose colour scheme & device name
  7. Choose an initial wireless connection (including password if applicable)
  8. Select express settings
  9. Login or create a Microsoft account

 

When your device is ready…

  1. swiping left on right edge of screen will open the “charms menu”
  2. Choose Settings at the bottom
  3. Select Change PC Settings at the bottom
  4. Scroll down for Updates at the bottom
  5. Choose update on the right-hand-side
  6. Wait, Wait,Wait…… as updates are downloaded, installed , surface restarted and updates completed
  7. You will likely repeat these steps a number of times until “no updates are scheduled to be installed” is reported

Andy

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Surface RT Wireless Connectivity (or not)

So with Windows RT 8.1 we get Miracast functionality which is the ability to “mirror” or duplicate a devices display wirelessly on a secondary display such as a monitor, TV or projector.

Given that the Surface RT does not allow the use of wireless transmitter dongles that you can purchase for none-miracast-capable devices (due to its restricted O/S) is this great news? well yes and no……. although both the Surface Pro and Surface RT are to be supported the RT requires an updated WDDM 1.3 Video Driver from Microsoft / NVIDIA as the currently utilised WDDM 1.2 is not sufficient.

I am hopeful that this will be included in the final 8.1 upgrade or released soon after as it would be another great ability of the Surface RT that would not be as expensive as an Apple iPad/TV Airplay pairing.

Be mindful that you will require a Miracast enabled TV/Monitor or Adapter like the Netgear Push2TV PTV3000 adapter to connect and enable receiving of the Miracast signal should the driver issues be rectified. Although there are cheaper options (some lower than £25) the PTV3000 is well small-form, supported, stable and by an established and respected manufacturer.

Andy

Searching for a Surface RT Stylus

So this blog entry sees me on a search for recommended stylus for the Surface RT. There is an absolute plethora of choices that range from the downright cheap and nasty to the expensive show pieces. I have already toyed with the really cheap ones on an iPad and they are extremely flimsy and lightweight, certainly they are not for anything other than casual and occasional use. The only ones I currently own are micro ones that are stored in headphone jacks and are acting as dust caps for my desktop (I’m not intending to us these for the Surface RT). So onto reasonable purchases for the Surface RT – be warned there is no outright winner.

The Surface RT utilises a capacitive stylus, often characterised by a black sponge-like rounded tip not unlike a worn pencil eraser. This should not be confused with the Surface Pro stylus that can have 256 levels of pressure sensitivity and resembles a traditional pen and are far more expensive ( and accurate). The problems are that the width of the traditional capacitive stylus obscures the view of what you are/have written and they can ( given lots of use ) wear out by splitting rendering fixed all-in-one stylus useless.

So an ideal stylus ( for sustained use ) should have:

  • Good length
  • Nice weight
  • Good price
  • Replaceable tip (or very cheap)
  • Compatible with Surface RT
  • Effective
  • Accurate

Griffin (£6) this is a cheap no frills functional stylus. When it wears out you buy a new one. If you find yourself using a stylus frequently this will cost you long term.

Wacom bamboo (£13/£17 with built in pen) a traditional rubber domed stylus that is actually smaller than the majority of rubber tipped stylus that could be replaced with a good overall weight. Certainly top of the usual type stylus.

Adonit Jot Pro (£20 with or without built in pen) this is the mac daddy of the stylus, it utilises a transparent plastic disc on a small ball joint so you can see where you have wrote for greater accuracy. It is accurate, it has a replaceable tip. But it is expensive and reports are out there that say it skips when making contact. The older models did not gave dampening so clunked when pushed onto the tablet surface. Bet well balanced. There have been reports of users adding conductive paste to the tip ball joint to improve performance as tips ages.

GoSmart Stylus (£20 standard or rocket finned body) this stylus seemed to have it all accuracy by utilising a wire crosshair that was coated and replaceable, style, reasonable price. However on contacting the manufacturer I was informed that the experience with the Surface RT is “hit and miss”!

Musemee Notier V2 (£15 for V1) seemingly similar to the Jot Pro but far cheaper but still a good balance and a cap to cover the working tip for protection that screws onto the bet whilst in us. As with the GoSmart Stylus I could not find any comments of compatibility with the Surface RT so I contacted the manufacturer who confirmed it was. The original V1 suffered from design flaws in the joint from the tip to the stylus body. This has been superseded by a replaceable tip in V2. Unfortunately it is only available through their own website in the UK at the time of this post.

I really think for anything non-fancy the Wacom bamboo would be ideal with its smaller and replaceable tips. So what do I really want? Well I really would like the Adonit Jot to work, but I don’t think I want to run the risk at its current cost. However I don’t want to compromise with the mini jot (£13) which is not as heavy and approx 5″. So I think the Musemee Notier V2 is going to be my choice for mid price and high accuracy with the fact in mind I’m only looking at hand written notes and not sketching or artwork. How that works out remains to seen.

Andy

Beyond SkyDrive & the Surface RT

So my brain has been toying with SkyDrive ( or whatever it is to be renamed as ) and the measly 7Gb. I say measly as SkyDrive was originally 25Gb and MS downgraded all accounts to 7Gb other than existing users that registered to retain 25Gb (thanks to JB for confirming).

To be fair 7Gb is not a bad capacity as most alternative offer only 5Gb and some even 2Gb. So how do you get more capacity? Well you can do a number of things…

  • Acquire a range of these services, admittedly this can be a headache.
  • Referrals, some offerings allow you increase your capacity with each referral by 500mb.
  • Look for introductory offers, these can range from 10Gb -50Gb.

So the top five big ones (for personal use) :

I have used all five offerings, more recently SkyDrive in readiness for the Surface RT and just like Dropbox,Google Drive and Box you can install a small piece of software whereby any files placed in a designated location on your machine will sync with the cloud space.

I utilise  the Pogoplug a lot because of it versatility. The pogoplug offers a slightly different dimension than the others mentioned in that it not only offers cloud storage but it offers software that you can place on a desktop machine and share a range of folders and drives (Yes these locations must be powered up) as well as a hardware device that you can purchase a small Linux powered box (for around £50) that can share anything plugged into its USB ports (the amount of ports is dependant on the model) and even attach compatible printers. This is a low power device that is silent with mine currently hosting three memory sticks. Effectively I now have over 1500Gb of accessible storage space, although this is slow access when away from home due to the slow upload speed of my broadband connection (other than the 20gb cloud space) it is perfectly acceptable at home and when I finally shift from copper loop to fibre (imminent!) it should really come into its own. It should be noted that it does Sync to the cloud but only what you have on your Pogoplug Device (info here).

Andy

Things to Try on the Surface RT

In no particular order

  1. Connecting wirelessly to another display
  2. Tethering to my phone for when I cannot get Wifi
  3. Finding at least one good app (and free) for all categories
  4. Trying to write this blog from the Surface itself (setup has been on a PC, entries have been on an iPhone 5)
  5. Not writing this blog retrospectively (which it has up till now!)
  6. Purchase & use a stylus

Andy

Resources & Support for the Surface RT

Hang on a minute……

  • I want to sort out my bookmarks of videos, tips, guides, etc
  • they could help out others new to the Surface RT, why duplicate the work!
  • IT are not able to support personal equipment (rightly so) and I bet they get more than the odd impromptu corridor stop!
  • it could start to foster a community that supports itself

If only I had a platform to throw it up on… MOODLE! So a little careful thinking and the sections are taking shape. A courtesy email to the head of IT to see if he is ok with it and willing to disseminate the link – thankfully he is 🙂

So the link is out there. I have all my resources organised, a link to numerous blogs (including this one), RSS feeds, tweets, a forum, etc.

I realise that I’m actually creating a Moodle course that covers a lot of content. Plus a good opportunity to dust of an old blog and repurpose it. It’s also stopped me from drumming my fingers (I Am finding it tough to love Moodle blogs).

Andy

Doing My Homework for the Surface RT

So with most things in life I love to immerse myself in something I do not understand or know about an the Surface RT is no exception…..

  • What were it’s limitations
  • What could I plug into the USB
  • What apps were there for it
  • Tips and tricks
  • Guides and how to’s

And although there is not an absolute bucket load of information and resources out there on the web there was enough and it was good ( with the exception of not being able to peruse the windows App Store without a windows 8 system – Lunacy).

So the bookmarks I am starting to accumulate are looking as if they could come In useful but they looked disorganised and unwieldy. I’m going to have to re-arrange them with some sort of organisation ( otherwise they will stay like they were and I would never tidy them up). So that’s a job I am currently working on.

Andy

Surface RT in the News of Late

So there has been a lot of different news on the Surface (RT & Pro) of late

This all goes well to widen the exposure and take-up of the the Surface (although I think the Windows App Store will do just fine on its own) It might encourage more developers to build Windows Apps.

However the best news is that Microsoft seems to tease that there will be updated Surfaces and therefore only more backing form the tech giant [http://www.theverge.com/2013/7/10/4511482/microsoft-updated-surface-rt-pro-new-accessory-colors] Seems Microsoft is really behind the Surface.

Andy

Why Purchase a Surface RT – My Reasons

I know that there is a lot of bad press regarding the surface (after I chose to purchase) and it never lived up to the hype, but that is a general comment on worldwide sales. Most Reviews say it does not live up to being a laptop (its was never meant to be) and that its not a replacement for the iPad (even MS are not that daft!). I feel its always been a tablet leaning towards a laptop, like an iPad has always tipped it tech hat to a larger iPhone.

“It’s not full Microsofts Windows 8” I hear people cry, correct – and IOS for the iPad is not Apple’s OS X
“It does not have any Apps”. The App store for the iPad has 775,000, Google Play 800,000, Blackberry 70,000. the Windows Store has 100,000 – not too bad for under a year from release

So enough of the debunking – onto my reasons…..In my household we

  • Both have iPhones – it mainly suits my wifes freelance work and makes sense to have the same phone
  • An aging Family iPad (1st Generation) that is difficult to take outside the house
    • It should be noted I recently got a Kurio 7 for my 3 year old – great kids tablet (and safer content!) so the iPad is a bit more available.
  • A reasonable Windows 7 desktop for most “work”
  • A works laptop that I am just finding a real burden to carry around lately (I do a lot of it)

I really started to want another tablet in the household…. should I buy a new iPad (have not forgiven them for not allowing IOS 6 on our aging iPad of what was 18 months) or an iPad mini being cheaper, or a Google Nexus 7 that would be cheaper still, but this was all moving further and further away from a reasonable workhorse – then the Surface offer came about. Prayers possibly answered? as well as the Surface RT having these bonuses……

  • Portable, I am attending a lot more meetings at various locations not only the South East but all over the UK.
  • Cheap, at least 50% of any competing costs
  • Office 2013 RT, productivity thumbs up here
  • USB (device) connectivity – mice, keyboards, better webcam, digital cameras, usb sticks, external drives
  • Expand the memory (micro SDXC card & USB), 32gb into a 96gb!
  • Familiar (Windows) environment for most,
  • Multiple accounts (useful to have a less personal account when showing on a display or letting family members nip on!),
  • Multitasking (one in the eye of Apple)

So i’m not saying my situation applies to all, if any, but it suits me and the bottom line is for what it costs there is definitely going to be somebody willing to buy a bargain from me (should it be a real pile of junk) without me losing anything 🙂

Andy

The (Surface RT) Deal

Spotted at JISC Eastern’s E-Fair 2013 by Andrew Wheeler (thanks!) It seemed too good a deal… £133 (ex. VAT) for a £400 tablet? but it was legit. A few colleagues thought surely this is something our organisation would be behind?

With a number of others colleagues brought on-board, and a number of emails sent, the wheels were put in motion. Order by end of July, expect at end of August due to demand from Microsoft!

So on the 15th of July Microsoft drop the Surface RT to £280 – £160 still a great deal 🙂 in fact if this reduction increases its popularity and therefore more Apps then thats a good thing.