Surface Hands-On At The Microsoft Store

Nov 12, 2012 (07:11 AM EST)

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When Microsoft released the Surface I decided to try one out and went to the Freehold Raceway Mall in Freehold, N.J., where there is one of two permanent Microsoft Stores in the state, and one temporary holiday store.

Microsoft Stores might not be as common as Apple Stores yet, but there was definitely action in the store I visited. Of course, as you can see in the picture, a lot of the people were staff -- not that a well-staffed store is a bad thing.

For Dino Londis, the distinguishing factor for the Microsoft Surface tablet is the keyboard, but that doesn't mean he's ready to shell out the money for one.

The wall art was certainly bright and colorful. It might have been better to show the weather in Freehold rather than Seattle, though.

My first hands on with the Surface! I'm impressed with the Surface keyboards but not thrilled with the price.

Not only are the keyboards very usable -- especially the slightly thicker, slightly more expensive model -- but they "click" on and off the Surface tablet itself with ease. It's a very cool design.

Just outside the store, a Microsoft rep/artist drew a woman with a Nomad Flex stylus brush and Microsoft Fresh Paint, a free app at the Windows Store that uses the Surface's touch screen. In the background, Adele's "I'll Be Waiting" was drowned out by mall noise.

The Apple store in the Freehold Raceway Mall had its own mob. The Microsoft and Apple stores are located close to one another, a characteristic of most Microsoft stores, as BYTE's Boonsri Dickinson recently noted. No doubt many people visit both stores. Where are they spending their money? That remains to be seen.