I know, it sounds nuts… but they are a heck of a lot of good reasons to have a Surface RT for your car.
The Surface RT is dirt cheap today. Because Microsoft has publicly abandoned it, you can get one for under $50. (Except, they’re still updating it for the next six years – read on!)
Surface RT with the Surface Cover Bluetooth Adapter, because it’s the best wireless keyboard ever.
Why in the world would I suggest that you get one of these devices – one that I personally rallied against for its locked bootloader, and other terrible things (like Windows 8/RT’s unethical walled garden)? Well, a few reasons.
First, Microsoft got the component selection down pat. With a microSD card slot that can handle 128GB, you can pack a lot of movies and other things onto that drive, and have an amazing offline media player. Imagine for a second that you could get an iPad (heck, even a first gen) with a microSDHC-capable card reader included for $50.
I also forgot to mention that pre-Surface 3 devices all carry 10.6-inch, 1080P 16:9 displays – perfect for watching most HD movies on.
Accessories are dirt-cheap too. A car charger can be had for $10. A Type Cover for $25. A high-end case from a top case brand can be had for pennies, literally. Thanks to Microsoft’s determination, nearly every high-end case maker churned out cases for this thing. That makes it perfect for stashing in your trunk.
You can even plug in micro-HDMI and watch Netflix, thanks to Internet Explorer barely meeting the HTML5 media cutoff in time for Windows RT 8.1.
Did I mention that the device also comes with a fully-licensed copy of Microsoft Office Home 2013, plus Outlook 2013 included too? That’s right, you get full Outlook with Exchange access, for email in a pinch.
Security is no bother either, at least for low-security stuff, since logging in with a Microsoft Account gives you automatic, full disk encryption. I wouldn’t use it for more than low-security stuff, but it is there. And, the microSD card can be encrypted with Bitlocker To Go, for even tougher encryption security.
And that brings me to the final part. Microsoft has promised to keep Surface RT security-supported until the year 2023. And unlike other companies, Microsoft has the cash – and the contracts – to keep that lifecycle intact.
The Surface 2 is quite more expensive, but also much more powerful, complete with a Tegra 4 processor that comes within striking distance of the K1 inside current-era tablets like Nexus 9. And that version has an AT&T-capable 4G version, for emergency SIM-swapping (though on AT&T, unlike Verizon, that may invoke a plan change).
Make no mistake, there won’t be new apps. Many developers are even pulling their Windows RT apps, thinking they won’t be used today. There are no desktop apps. This tablet is only useful for Office & Internet Explorer. And come one day after 2023, when security-patch Extended Support ends, it should promptly be recycled, or converted into an offline photo viewer.
No abandoned, ARM-powered tablet in history has gotten a decade of updates. But Surface RT will. The battery will give out before updates do, in all likelihood.
So that’s the case. I have a Surface in my car. Surface RT deserved to fail. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
Clarification: Surface RT supplies in the factory-refurbished market have been depleted. To get a Surface RT for $50 (give or take $10), you’ll have to go into eBay or Craigslist. Be sure to check the battery health, if buying locally, as some Surface RTs are suffering battery failure much more rapidly than other units. Overall most Surface RTs are holding up in terms of battery health, however.
I use mine as a dedicated Netflix viewer on my treadmill and stationary bike. The battery life for watching video is phenomenal. Plus, it has bluetooth so I can use my bluetooth headset. And, FYI, there is a free dedicated Netflix app in the Microsoft Store.