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Last week Microsoft had refurbished Surface RT 32G models with Touch Keyboard for $199 shipped. I had to get one, even though I have zero need for one, as the price was too good to pass up. I should have listened to all the negative reviews, but I am a gadget junky and need help.

Now don’t get me wrong, the hardware is pretty well thought out. Nice clear touch screen, stereo sound, USB/HDMI/SDXC ports, wi-fi/bluetooth, and a keyboard that doesn’t need separate power. The down side here is the OS, and even more so the lack of developer support.

This is marketed as a 32gig device, but there is really only about 13gig free as the OS takes the rest. Luckily ARM applications are small and getting additional storage for media via USB/SD isn’t a problem. Still, I am not sure how Microsoft gets away .. oh right, answered my own question there.

Unlike many reviews, the Tegra 3 processor does not feel sluggish to me. Most of the apps load fast, which leads me to believe the few that do not are slow because of sloppy programming. It is also unfortunate Windows RT does not take full advantage of the chipset, unlike its Android counterparts, or there would be better graphic capabilities.

The big problem? The only good programs for the RT platform are those which come pre-installed. Ok, there might be a half dozen apps I loaded from the store that work well, but everything else is junk that looks thrown together. Even worse, the only programs you can install have to come from the store … well at least without some clever hack.

I am curious to see how the release of Windows 8.1 next month improves the tablet. MS Exchange support will be a nice addition to the existing Word/Excel/PowerPoint suite. Better customization of widgets and the return of a “start” button should help too. Unfortunately, I also read the clever hack might be blocked.

I am going to try and use this at work until then, but unless Microsoft can get people to write more applications, my Nexus 7 has no fear of being replaced.


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At a price of $35 it was hard not to buy one of Google’s latest toys, but including free Netflix for three months made it a no-brainer.

I have been very pleased with my other ‘straight from google’ devices, and the Chromecast is no different. Usability is still hindered by the lack of app support, but I expect that to change once the SDK is released.

Currently both Netflix and You Tube work perfect when launched from my Nexus 4 phone. Until the latest update, using a third party program called Fling would let the Chromecast play any supported video from your PC. Although this no longer works, Google said blocking the video playback was not on purpose. So for now, using your Chrome web browser is the only other way to get content on your TV.

Unfortunately as my Apple TV currently provides the above services, and until the SDK is available to make more apps, the Chromecast is going to patiently sit in the drawer. I have no doubt that it will eventually become my go-to device for TV media playback.