Over the past week, I’ve had the fortune to play with both Microsoft’s Surface 2 and the Asus T100 Transformer Book. These are very similar devices — convertible laptops with detachable keyboards — except for one big and fundamentally life-altering difference: Where the Surface 2 is powered by Nvidia’s ARM-based Tegra 4 SoC, the Transformer Book has Intel’s x86 Bay Trail under the hood.
Windows RT Hardware News
Over the past week, I’ve had the fortune to play with both Microsoft’s Surface 2 (which we'll have a review of very soon) and the Asus T100 Transformer Book. These are very similar devices – convertible laptops with detachable keyboards – except for one big and fundamentally life-altering difference: Where the Surface 2 is powered by Nvidia’s ARM-based Tegra 4 SoC, the Transformer Book has Intel’s x86 Bay Trail under the hood.
With Surface 2, everything has changed: This device offers significantly better performance and better battery life in a package that is better looking, thinner and lighter than that of its predecessor. But questions about the Windows RT platform remain. Is Surface 2 good enough to jumpstart Microsoft's Windows devices vision?
If you bought an original Surface tablet when it was first released in October 2012, you might have noticed that it did not have an Ethernet port. The tablet also didn't support any USB-based Ethernet adapters. There have been rumors that Microsoft was working on adding Ethernet drivers to Windows RT for the 8.1 release, but Microsoft never officially commented on those plans.
Nokia's new Windows RT tablet turns the Finnish handset maker into Microsoft's rival, but at least one Nokia partner says there's really no competition.
This past Tuesday, I announced my Microsoft-only experiment. My goal is to only use Microsoft devices for a week -- not easy for a Linux user -- and I have since followed through on that commitment. Armed with only a Surface 2 (Windows RT 8.1), Nokia Lumia 928 and a Windows 8.1 desktop, I managed to make the transition, although it was not all sunshine. More on that later.
Just recently, Nokia unveiled its first ever Windows RT 8.1 tablet, called the Lumia 2520. This device is a 10.1-inch Windows RT 8.1 tablet that features the same great Lumia design we have come to know and love with the Lumia Windows Phones. But why did Nokia decide to enter the tablet market? Well, simply put, because the time is ripe.
After the less-than-stellar debut of Windows RT last year, the subsequent cancellation of Samsung's Windows RT tablet, and Microsoft's $900 million Surface RT write-down, I honestly didn't expect another RT tablet from anyone other than Microsoft to be released, ever. However, earlier this week, Nokia announced its first Windows RT tablet, the Lumia 2520.
I am the sort of person who values a versatile device, that lends itself well both to productivity work and content consumption, in a portable package. In my opinion, Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 strikes the right balance and is definitely the tablet that I would buy if I were in the market for such a device. On the productivity side, it is an uncompromised machine that can run every piece of software that I want or need. Unquestionably, it puts Apple's new iPad Air to shame in this regard.
Microsoft has plenty riding on its second-generation Windows RT tablet, the Surface 2. Its first iteration, the Surface RT, not only met with a fair amount of critical scorn, but sold so poorly that Microsoft was forced to take a $900 million write-off on unsold inventory -- an action that some observers believe contributed to Steve Ballmer's resignation.
As a geek, I like to reward those in the industry that try to be bold. That try to be different. That try to leave the beaten path. That look at the norm in the market, and decide to ignore it. Despite all its flaws, Microsoft did just that with its Metro user interface, incarnations of which are used on both Windows Phone and Windows 8.
The Surface 2 represents a fresh start for Microsoft’s tablet line. Sure, you could easily say that it’s the second installment of the Surface RT (now simply called Surface), but with a new marketing campaign, a new name (Microsoft has dropped the RT branding entirely), beefed up internals and an updated operating system, Surface 2 is almost entirely new in every way, shape and form.
So, Nokia has decided to jump into the tablet segment by officially unveiling the brand new Nokia Lumia 2520 as part of its multiple devices announcement over at Nokia World 2013 in Abu Dhabi yesterday. It is indeed one odd device due to the fact that it is running on Windows RT which is not popular among consumers, frankly speaking.
In February, Neowin reported that Microsoft rebranded its original Surface tablets, but it appears the branding changes aren’t over – Microsoft has now dropped the “RT” from its original Surface tablet’s name entirely.
Yes, Microsoft is supposed to acquire Nokia's Devices and Services unit in the first quarter of 2014, but before that happens the two companies are technically competitors. This fall, they will release the only two new Windows RT 8.1 tablets planned for 2013. Microsoft just launched the Surface 2 today and a few hours ago Nokia announced the long rumored Lumia 2520 for a release later this year.