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Microsoft Surface 2 review

 Review: October 2013  
 

Rating: 3 stars

In a nutshell: The Surface 2 is a super-portable computing device with a snap-on keyboard and a wealth of pre-installed software including Microsoft Office 2013 RT.



 

Introduction

The Surface 2 is an updated version of Microsoft's Surface RT tablet running Windows RT 8.1.

Design & looks

The Surface RT 2 looks almost the same as the original Surface RT. It's a whisker slimmer but weighs the same. There's a real quality feel to this device, helped by its magnesium alloy construction. The Surface feels durable and an anti-fingerprint coating stops it from getting messy.

While you can certainly use the Surface like a conventional tablet, most users will probably opt to use it with one of the snap-on keyboards that are available. The original Touch Cover doubles as a protective cover and pressure-sensitive keyboard, just 3mm thick and available in a choice of colours. It snaps nicely into place to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard with Windows shortcut keys, media controls and a trackpad. An updated Touch Cover 2 incorporates illuminated keys and is even thinner and lighter than the original. If you want to get really serious about typing, you can replace the Touch Cover with a Type Cover 2 - a dual cover and mechanical keyboard, which will give you a typing speed and accuracy close to a real laptop.

The integrated kickstand has two positions, so you can prop up the Surface for use with the keyboard or for watching videos.

The screen measures 10.6 inches as before, which is an excellent size for a tablet, and the resolution has been upgraded to full 1080p HD.

Under the surface

The Surface 2 is powered by an even faster quad-core processor than the original. The Nvidia Tegra 3 has been upgraded to a Tegra 4, running at 1.7GHz. There's a full 2GB of RAM. This is a lot of power for a tablet, but it won't match the power of a laptop costing the same amount of money.

The Surface 2 comes with either 32GB or 64GB of built-in memory, and a microSDXC card slot lets you add up to 64GB of extra memory.

SkyDrive gives you 200GB of free cloud-based storage for two years.

Windows RT

Like its predecessor, the Surface 2 runs Windows RT - this time updated to version 8.1. RT is a reduced version of Windows 8 that works exclusively with apps available from the Windows Store. Windows RT also has more limited networking, security and IT management options.

Pre-installed apps include:

In addition the Surface 2 integrates with Xbox so you can access games, movies, TV shows and music. Xbox Music gives you free access to millions of songs that you can stream to your Surface when you're online.

Cameras

The Surface 2 comes with a front-facing 5 megapixel camera that can be used for HD Skype video calls and a more 5 megapixel rear-facing one.

Connectivity

As well as offering Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless connectivity, the Surface has a full-sized USB port. You can plug in a USB drive or a camera and drag and drop files between the drive and the Surface. Just like with a PC. You can also connect accessories like printers or mice, provided they're compatible with Windows RT.

A microHDMI video out port lets you plug the Surface into a HD monitor or TV.

The device can be charged via USB.

What the Surface doesn't have is any kind of cellular connectivity. There's no 3G; no 4G. There's no GPS either. But this makes sense given the nature of the device - it's more a portable desk-bound system, not a fully mobile one.

Battery life

Battery life has been improved slightly compared with the original Surface RT - up to 10 hours of continuous use.

Pricing

Microsoft has learnt something from the poor sales of the original Surface RT and the launch price of the Surface 2 RT is less than the original. The 32GB is available for £359. That doesn't include a Touch Cover, which will cost an extra £64.99. For the 64GB version including a Touch Cover, you'll be spending £504.

Conclusion

It's difficult to rate the Surface 2. Is it a tablet? If so, it's expensive and heavy and misses out on the wealth of 3rd party apps that you get with the iPad or an Android tablet. Is it a laptop? If so, it's expensive and underpowered.

It's actually neither of those things. It's a super-portable device with a snap-on keyboard that can do a lot with its powerful pre-installed software. If that's what you're looking for, then the Surface RT is a great device with some really nice features, and can replace an entry-level notebook computer. But it's still more expensive than we'd like.


Microsoft Surface 2 features include:

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Microsoft Surface 2 user reviews

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Reviewed by Tris from UK on 12th Feb 2015
I bought my surface 2 in January 2014 for work and pretty much hated it. I didn't really get the point of it and just resorted to my iPad. More and more I took time out to understand it and more and more I began to find uses for it. 200gb on cloud and sinks with my windows phone a treat. Office 2013 is great. It's a really confusing device at first but the more you use it the more it makes sense. What it does offer is unbeatable surfing with a really great screen. Email on the surface is great using the touch cover. It's super portable and matches most top end laptops on build. My 5 stars is not reflective of the device in general because RT is dead as a operating system, there's not a lot of apps and and its expensive........ Like really over priced. My 5 stars are based on it does for work what I really need it to. It's never missed a beat and with a touch cover I find it has the best of both worlds when needed. Great if you get it cheap as RT is now dead but not worth 350. I can't really recommend it, only that I think it had a great idea behind it that got lost in translation.
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