Surface RT as a desktop machine for two weeks. And why not?
I want to remind everyone that Surface RT is not designed for this. It is technically designed as a tablet, just like an iPad. But since it has gotten so much criticism over this, I decided to actually try it out as my main desktop machine. The results were surprisingly good.
By the way, you can duplicate this set up with a Surface Pro too.
Here is the setup I used:
What you need to duplicate it:
1) Surface RT (obviously) – or Pro if that’s what you have.
2) Monitor – I bought ViewSonic 27-Inch Monitor and absolutely love it!
3) Surface 5 in 1 USB Adapter – This one is handy because you can also use it to read different size SD cards: SD/SDHC/MMC4.0 and Micro SD/SDHC.
4) Video Adapter – In my case, I used MicroHDMI to DVI but to see which one you would need check out my table on different video adapters for the Surfaces.
6) Mouse – I used a wireless Microsoft Mobile Mouse, you can get it in black or white.
7) RT Power Supply – If you’re going to set this up as you “docking station”, then I’d recommend you get a spare one and besides it’s nice to have two anyway.
8) Speakers – Totally optional; I used my existing ones but you can get a nice Bluetooth speaker like this Portable Bluetooth Wireless Rechargeable Mini Speaker System.
9) Oh yeah, and you’ll need a desk to put this all on too.
After a little tweaking, this setup turned out quite nice. I really liked it.
Some of the software I used:
- Obviously, the whole Office Suite that’s built-in: Excel, Word, PowerPoint
- Foxit Mobile
- Movie Edit Touch
- Box Sync
- and more..
So now, how it functioned:
The Pros – things I liked:
- I was very surprised how well this worked. Surface RT is obviously not as fast as Suface Pro or a laptop but it was fast enough. I used it as my main machine for everything: from writing posts, to managing my websites, to editing images, to creating Excel spreadsheets, to paying bills, to surfing the web. It just worked.
- I loved that Office was built-in and I didn’t have to buy it.
- I installed a bunch of apps from the Windows Apps Store and they all worked just fine.
- It was very convenient to “plug in to the docking setup” for a desktop experience or just “unplug and go” for a tablet.
- All the apps I used, had no problems. I experienced no issues. Everything loaded and ran fine. I created posts, webpages, took notes, originated my business files and finances. Worked great.
The Cons – things I didn’t like:
- No Java support on IE 10 for RT. This was a pain when I was trying to use a web-based java chat, couldn’t get it to work because add-ons are not allowed in IE10 RT.
- I could not edit Google Docs. This is not RT’s problem, it’s a problem with Google and everyone else. Their stuff just doesn’t play nice together. I could view the docs but I could not edit them. I suspect it has something to do with the Java support.
- No options for other internet browsers. This is probably the thing that I found most annoying. I really like to use Firefox but there is no option to install any other browser on the RT.
I liked the experience. I think one can definitely use the Surface RT as a desktop and run a business out of it. It will be a little bit slower and it does have some drawbacks but it is possible and quite doable. I can see if one had an on-the-go job that required a tablet and then needed it at home for running a business (or whatever), I think it would work just fine: can’t beat the ease of integration if you’re using one device. Given the fact that the Surface RT was not designed to be a laptop/desktop replacement, I would give it 5 smilies for its performance in this experiment.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if you have the money to buy both the Surface RT and a desktop at home and you don’t mind transferring files back and forth; then get them both. Better yet, you could use this set up for a Surface Pro if you want something with a little more power.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.