Disclaimer: The following is based on my personal experiences and needs that may well not match yours. Feel free to disagree with my conclusions. I offer my insights to help others decide on the devices that suit them.
I’ve been using a number of devices over the last six months or so and found they all have problems. They have seemed to settle into niches though.
Microsoft Surface RT.
The great thing about this is that it has the Microsoft Office installed. Complete versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The email client is reasonable – its the standard Windows 8 mail app. It also shares settings with my other Windows 8 devices. And best of all it has PowerShell installed. PowerShell is constrained and restricted but it is very useful. The fact that it has a full size USB port makes movign files between devices very easy. The stand is a brilliant idea that makes using it on a desk much more comfortable.
The aspect ratio is 16:9 rather than the more common 4:3 which makes using it as a reader a bit awkward. Its also too big to be used comfortably as an e-reader.
Mainly used for meetings, conferences and writing while travelling. I’ve written several chapters of my latest book on it and though the touch keyboard isn’t brilliant it is more than usable.
Number 1 choice for working.
Kindle Fire HD
This is my device of choice if I’m on holiday. Very good size as an e-reader and good email client. The apps are OK but the screen is too small to work on documents except for a quick skim read. The web browser is fast. Linking to my main laptop is easy through a USB cable which makes transferring files simple.
This is the least useful of all my devices. The Kindle app is flashy with the simulated page turning but it isn’t comfortable to hold for long periods. The fact that you have to link through itunes to move files around is a pain. It is useful reading technical books due to the screen size. The retina display that’s raved about doesn’t look any better to my eyes than any of the other devices. The email client is so-so. It still reports the number of unread messages incorrectly. The on screen keyboard isn’t very well laid out – especially the odd characters like # where you have to go to a third level. The web browser is so and unresponsive.
Apart from being another screen when researching through technical books its not used that much. Definitely the one I could live without.
The best e-reader of all for long distance flights/trains is still my simple Kindle device!
I still have a netbook that runs Windows 8. It’s used when I need a full Windows 8 device that’s got a small footprint.