TechRadar’s Surface Hands-On Is an Actual Surface Hands-On

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At Microsoft’s launch event for its Surface tablets on Monday, it let the assembled journalists get their hands on some sample units–sort of. We were able to hold turned-off Surface for Windows RT systems to gauge their feel and weight and try the built-in kickstand. We could try out examples of the keyboard cover that weren’t actually connected to working tablets. I even got to briefly tap around a cocktail app.

But none of that added up to the sort of hands-on experience that could give anyone even a tentative impression of whether the Surface lives up to its potential. So I’m intrigued by a hands-on story by TechRadar’s Mary Branscombe that seems to be a real hands-on, complete with more details about Surface for Windows 8 Pro.

Here’s a snippet from her take on the keyboard:

Typing on the Touch Cover is a little odd at first because the keys don’t move under your fingers; but they don’t pick up typing until you actually hit the keys so just resting your hand on the keyboard or even putting your fingers in place on the keyboard while you think about what to say doesn’t generate stray characters.

Branscombe also answers a question I had about the Surface–which wasn’t among the 23 I already wrote about. Since the tablet isn’t a true clamshell device–it uses a temporary connection to its keyboard and is propped up by a kickstand–I wondered whether it was possible to use it in literal laptop mode, in your lap. Branscombe says it works quite well.

For now, this may be the most well-informed take anyone’s provided on Surface. However, it’s labeled as a “review”–and that it clearly is not. Branscome herself says that “[N]o-one has had much time using Surface RT yet.” If Surface were a movie instead of a computer, her piece would amount to a gut reaction based on having watched part of an early cut.