The Surface still isn’t out in Australia, which is why I got myself an ASUS Vivo Tab RT instead. I haven’t used a Surface – which is different from the ASUS. The Asus has 2 USB ports (one through an adapter) and a detachable keyboard that also functions as a battery. This is perhaps why I’ve come to a different conclusion than Paul Thurrott. He’s said that Surface isn’t a PC replacement. I think it makes a fine ultrabook replacement.
I use different laptops for different things. I have a beast with a lot of RAM that I use to run virtual machines at conferences. My Windows RT device doesn’t and can’t replace that. But I’m also aware that my useage profile in that case is way out of the norm. Very few people run virtual machines on their laptop (or even desktop computers).
I also have a much smaller Sony VAIO ultrabook that I cart around. I connect it to projectors to run slides. Use it as a backup computer to run videos of demos in case my demo laptop fails. I use it to write books and articles in Word and to put together PowerPoint presentations. I used a Macbook Air with Bootcamp prior to that for the same sort of thing. A companion computer to the 17-inch ASUS monster I usually travel with.
After a week or so’s use, the ASUS Vivo Tab has replaced these smaller laptops when I go out the door. Windows RT is far more than an iPad replacement. In the last week I have been able to do the following things with it.
- Connect to the printer on my home network and printed documents including airline tickets and my son’s homework.
- Connected to my scanner and scanned documents
- Used a micro-hdmi cable to connect it to a 27 inch 1920x1080 monitor. I also connected a keyboard, mouse, and USB hub and found that it functions okay as a desktop in that configuration.
- Used a micro-hdmi to VGA cable to present PowerPoint slides
- Used MS Press’s complex Word templates to write part of a book chapter.
- Used Lync and Skype for conference calls
I’ve tried to work on an iPad in the past – but I rarely manage to get a lot done on it. Maybe that’s just me.
There’s certainly stuff I can’t do on it – I use Camtasia and do play games like XCOM and MechWarrior Online – – but a lot of the stuff I do during the day – which, I suspect is a lot of the stuff that many computer users do during the day, I can do with Windows RT (One caveat: I’ve almost always used webmail or OWA, so not having Outlook doesn’t slow me down).
I showed the device to a lawyer friend travelling internationally and he immediately went out and purchased one – because for him it was exactly what he needed. A device that handled Word documents well that he could use with USB to transfer files and which would display the occasional PowerPoint – something he’d not been able to do successfully with an iPad.
So for the stuff you’d do with a Macbook Air or any other Ultrabook – Windows RT probably is going to be fine. There’s a couple of things it doesn’t do, but I’m guessing for most people it does most of what they would do with those types of machines. It’s not a replacement for a full laptop – but it certainly makes my ultrabook redundant.