70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2013
Size Name: 8GB 256GB
I bought the 256GB, 8GB RAM version of the Surface Pro 2 from the Microsoft store last month and so far I like it a lot. Before I go into the pros and cons, I think it's important that I tell you a little bit more about what type of user I am and what I do with the surface pro 2.
I'm a PC guy, have never bought or owned an Apple product and don't think I'll ever. To me, Mac OS X is an horrible OS and I can't really work with it. I have linux (usually Ubuntu or a version of it) installed on most of my computers (not on the surface pro 2, not yet). So I guess my experience and review will be more useful to PC users. I'm a gamer, but not on PC (I have consoles for that). I've had every single version of Windows and I never had any major problems, either with viruses or bugs.
I use the surface pro 2 two ways: on the go, as a tablet/laptop with the touchcover, and at home I have it connected to a 23in LED display, with wireless keyboard and mouse. Therefore, when I'm at home, the surface pro 2 is used to power the PC and as a second screen. I haven't bought a docking station yet, but I'll probably soon (not the one from Microsoft though as it's too expensive and lack some key features. I'll take the Pluggable one -look it up here on Amazon).
- Power and performance: this thing just flies. I upgraded from a first gen Intel core I-3 (an Asus computer) and I can definitely see the difference. I can run Matlab, Stata, Excel and a couple of apps and it never slows down. And thanks to the 8GB of RAM, I usually never use more than 6GB at the max. But honestly, I believe any modern ultrabook with a Haswell Intel core I-5 will have great performances along with good battery life (it doesn't compare to the crazy Macbook Air (2013) but it will easily last 6-7 hours which is enough for me).
- Screen: it might not have the highest PPI or whatever, but the display provides a really good, crisp picture with rich colors. It's LED, so the blacks aren't as deep as on my plasma tv, but movies still look good. Text looks sharp. The display is very reflective but the brightness is high enough to compensate, although I guess using it outside in direct sunlight might be a problem.
- Windows 8.1: now, I understand that it doesn't have to do only with the surface pro 2, but using Windows 8.1 on this machine is really nice. I know Win 8 received a lot of critiscism and actually, the first time I installed it on my previous computer, I hated it. But now that I'm used to it and that I have a touch screen, I have to admit it's a really good operating system. The desktop is simply Windows 7 upgraded (I really don't miss the start menu personnally) and it's nice to have the option to run apps. It's especially important if you are on the go as it makes this a true 2-in-1 device: a powerful second screen/laptop at home and a nice tablet when I simply want to check facebook, flipboard or twitter. I own multiple Android phones and tablets, and while the apps selection is limited on Windows 8.1, I have to say that this OS works quite well on a tablet. Being able to run 2 apps side by side is awesome and the charm bar really helps. As I've said, I understand that some might think it has nothing to do with a review about the hardware, but I truly believe that the Surface pro 2 is simply Microsoft's vision of the future. So the hardware works with the software. Personnally, I'm in the desktop 90% of the time but I use the surface as a second monitor where I have apps open (Mail, twitter, etc).
Also, still on the software side, you have the pure Windows experience, no bloatware or any stupid thing installed by the manufacturer. And since Microsoft makes the hardware, you get firmware updates without having to run a separate update checker as you'd have to with Asus or another brand. Overall, it's a little bit like getting the Apple experience but with a PC.
- The stylus: it's really just so precise, it's crazy. Used with OneNote, it's like writing on paper. It just doesn't compare to any Ipad or Android tablet, except for the Galaxy Note line.
- Build quality: It's an heavy tablet, but god it feels good. As a PC user, I usually don't care much about how it feels or look, but I have to admit that the surface pro 2 is really nice. As I've said, it's a little heavy but given that there is a kickstand, it's very usable. It's actually better than my normal Android tablet (who weighs half) since you can just rest the tablet on your lap or the table. Also a sign of good build quality, the speakers are surprisingly good and loud. I was very impressed by that.
- My device worked well for a week and then, one day, just wouldn't turn on. I went back to the Microsoft store, they checked it, reinstalled everything and now it's okay. At first, I wasn't very happy. I actually asked for an exchange as I didn't want to take the chance to have a non-working computer again, but they were out of stock. So I took it back and so far so good (it has been 3 weeks now I think). I don't know what the problem was, but when the tablet was coming back from sleep, I usually had an error message telling me that some driver stopped working. Since they reinstalled everything, I haven't had this message. So I guess they did fix it. Still, another person got the same problem here on Amazon, and this is preventing me from giving 5 stars.
- Price: I really wanted/needed 8GB. And the only way to get that is by buying the 256GB version. I'd have been fine with 128GB (we have so much cloud storage nowadays anyway). Original price is thus $1299, before taxes. And it doesn't include the keyboard! To me, Microsoft should include the touchcover with every version of the surface pro, it just doesn't make sense they don't do that. Fortunately for me, I got a sweet deal since it was the opening day of the Microsoft store here in Vancouver (Metrotown if you know). Not only were they giving the keyboard (the first gen of the touchcover, not the typecover or the 2nd generation) AND there was 10% off. All in all, given the 12% sale tax in Canada, I saved almost $300. At $1300 with taxes and with the keyboard, this is acceptable (it's pretty much the same price as another high-end ultrabook). At the original price, I wouldn't have bought it. I compeltely understand paying a little bit more than a ultrabook (such as the Lenovo Yoga pad pro 2) given the tablet form factor and the stylus with active digitizer, but not $300 more. Again Microsoft, bundle the keyboard! You can't advertize the device as a laptop replacement with a keyboard and charge $120 for it.
- When connected to a second monitor, you can't set two different DPI. You can only set two different resolutions. So when my surface pro 2 is connected and used as a second monitor, text can appear quite small on the surface screen (or then, I have to make everything look big on my 23in monitor). It'd be nice to have the option to set different DPI for every screen. Or possible, different DPI depending on whether the tablet is connected to another monitor or not. This issue is a Windows 8.1 one though, not a surface pro 2 specific one. Also, while Windows 8.1 deals with high resolution displays better than other versions of Windows, it's still not perfect. Some apps or programs are either too small or blurry (Chrome is an example of that for instance).
- I have the first gen touchcover. it worked relatively well and it protects the screen when I'M taking the surface pro 2 on the go, but if you intend on typing a long research paper, you'll need an external keyboard.
In conclusion, I really consider the surface pro 2 as an awesome computer and very good tablet. For me, it's a perfect 2-in-1 device (I actually gave away my Android tablet since then, I have a Nexus 4 anyway). But I think it might not be for everyone though. In particular, if you never connect it to a second monitor or docking station, you'll likely find the keyboard and screen too small and you should probably go with another ultrabook. Also, the official price is just too high and it's a shame the keyboard isn't included. If you can find a deal like me, go for it. Otherwise, I could see better options out there. But none if you really need the features of this device (Sony and Dell each have a surface pro 2 competitor, but they don't seem to be as good and/or they cost pretty much the same price anyway).
***EDIT January 30th 2014***
I thought I'd do an edit/update of my review. Here are some worthwhile points after 2-3 months of usage.
1) I bought the Plugable UD3900 docking station. Cheaper than the Microsoft one and better (and re-usable with any computer with a USB port). It's really fantastic. Now, when I come back from work, I simply connect the usb 3.0 cable and it turns my tablet into a desktop with a lot of usb ports, ethernet, etc. It's particularly useful to get ethernet as the wifi on the Surface Pro 2 seems a little bit slow (others have noticed it as well). I definitely recommend buying this product. And the customer service is just awesome (I had a problem with my mouse and they replied in like 5 hours).
2) The December 10th (firmware) update was a giant mess by Microsoft. I was unfortunate enough to install it and then my Surface Pro would wake up randomly after 1 hour (when in sleep mode) and drain the battery. MS pulled the update after a couple of days, but for people like me, it was too late. The good news is that the January update finally solved the issue. It took MS more than a month to fix a very serious issue though (I had to turn off the tablet completely. Good thing the Surface Pro can boot up in like 7 seconds. I'll not change my rating of 4 stars but the 5 stars is definitely not an option. MS was not communicating much about this issue (except saying a fix was coming...) and quite frankly, such a problem shouldn't happen when the same company makes the hardware and the software. Let's hope the issues are behind me now.
3) I actually found a way to have different DPI on different screens. Windows 8.1 is much better at this that Windows 7 or even 8. In the display settings, if you uncheck the "let me choose one scaling factor for all my displays", then Windows can scale differently depending on the size and resolution of the various screens. For me, it means the Surface pro displays at 100% scaling on my 23 in full HD monitor, but scales everything at 150% on the tablet as to make things (text, icons, etc) bigger. It works very well except for one issue: Windows doesn't actually truly scale differently. What it seems to do is take the main monitor when you sign in and set the scaling based on this monitor (so if I sign up on the tablet only, Windows will scale at 150% by default). If you then connect another screen, Windows will resize (NOT re-scale) everything on this second monitor. So for instance, when my tablet is connected to my 23 in monitor, Windows sets the scaling at 100%. And when I display something on the tablet, Windows will resize at 150%. It sounds good but by not actually rescaling but simply resizing, it means the secondary monitor is a little bit blurry (it literally streches the windows and text for instance, you can observe the re-sizing when moving a window from one monitor to the other). It's not a problem for the Metro app but it definitely is one for the desktop. If you want to re-set the scaling factor, you need to log out and log in (so if I unpluf my Surface to go somewhere, I need to log out to make sure evrything looks crips on the tablet only). Not the biggest issue and it's definitely better than before, but still not perfect. Oh, and Chrome still doesn't scale well, but this is Google's fault and not MS.
Overall, I'm still happy with my purchase even though the December update was puzzling for me. Beside this issue, the Surface Pro 2 is still the best option if you want a 2-in-1 device. I still see that as the future of computing. Hopefully MS won't release another faulty update in the future.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2014
Size Name: 8GB 256GBVerified Purchase
Awesome Microsoft Tablet.
Mircosoft Surface Pro 2, 256GB SSD, 8GB Ram.
Date of this review is 10/18/14:
. . .A little about me:
-I like using small icons regardless of desktop size and make all icons on the task bar tray to SMALL.
-I originally hated Win 8.1 PRO as I came from Win 7. However with a handy addon called "Startisback.com", it adds the functionality of Win 7 Start Button back to Win 8.1 Pro.
-Besides the SP2, I have 2 Core i7 with SSD laptops running on Win 8.1 PRO and I NEVER use the Metro interface. I'm still a hardcore Desktop interface user.
-Win 8.1 PRO takes a little getting used to but once you know where everything is, WIN 8.1 PRO is the clear winner as the OS is optimized for SSD and more up-to-date on the software side of things.
Reason Why I did not upgrade to Surface Pro 3:
- Too expensive. Not worth the price at its current selling point. Product is TOO NEW. (Will Discuss more in-depth)
-Wacom Digitizer versus N-Trig Stylus/Screen Technology (Will discuss more in-deth)
-Screen Size/Overall Size (SurfacePro2 is more compact and easier to carry then the bigger SurfacePro3)
-Standard 2 setting viewing angle can be modified with a better Tablet Case (Discuss more in-depth)
-New Intel Graphics Chip now outperforms the old-ugly Integrated Graphics Chips from the Past. (Will post Frames-Per-Second Benchmarks later, in-depth)
-Powerful enough to Run Photoshop. Now with Adobe Cloud, Photoshop runs even smoother.
-Great for Artists to draw on using Manga Studio 5 or any other drawing application that runs on Windows Operating System.
-8 GB ram is plenty for a tablet on-the-go Workstation. Is "Just-enough" when doing light video editing, and almost plenty for image editing. This may depend on the image pixel density that is being worked with.
-Can be as compact as a tablet or be expanded with accessories to be a Laptop/Tower like Work Station.
-MicroSD Card expansion for even more memory Storage.
-Front and Back Facing Cameras.
-Windows 8.1 PRO not as bad as many people think (I thought it sucked in the past, but runs amazingly well in the long run).
-Retails for ~$400 (Rare but people are selling it cheap) - $600 (I was able to buy it at $650) -$780+ (Current "Used" Price to buy this tablet).
>>>>> Surface PRO 3 versus Surface PRO 2 <<<<<
-Larger Screen of SP3 12" may not be great for everyone as the screen size does not account for tablet size. SP2 Screen size at 10.2" is "Just-right". Though this may differ from user to user based on how each person interacts with the Device.
-At the same specs as the SP2 @ 256GB SSD + 8GB ram, and you are looking at a SP3 worth ~$1,100 > ~$1,300. Not worth the Jump.
-Many Forums are still complaining about the quirks in the SP3, so until that gets fixed, I won't be jumping on that band wagon.
>>>>> Wacom versus N-Trig <<<<<
- SP2 uses Wacom Digitizer technology for the Screen interface. SP3 uses the N-Trig (Bluetooth) technology for the Screen Interface.
-I have scoured forums and youtube channels looking for niche differences. What I have concluded is this:
-The Industry Standard when Drawing/art Studios. Think Wacom Cintiq.
-Does not require batteries.
-Replaceable nibs (the tip of stylus)
-No Lag in interface.
-Sometimes when drawing really fast on the screen, the strokes are not recognized as it nears the edge of the screen.
-Not wireless, and is Palm-resisting when the Stylus Digitizer is near the screen.
-The new Bluetooth Pen Technology in town. Not very well-known.
-Requires Batteries to work. 2 Batteries, one for the Pen and one for Bluetooth.
-Replaceable nibs. (THe tip of stylus)
-LAG in interface by milliseconds. It is apparently noticeable when using slow brushing movements.
-Fast strokes are recognized even as the strokes go off screen.
---->>So overall? <------
This one really boils down to personal preference, but one thing I do hate is a Pen dying on me because its batteries ran out. I don't have to deal with that kinda let-down using a Wacom Stylus.
>>>>> Screen Size? <<<<<
-I always believed bigger was better until I started needing laptops for on-the-go. Basically More power in a smaller Form factor.
-Screen Size puzzled me as my first computer was a 27" Monitor (HP Pavillion, Quad-Core).
Then I Upgraded to a 15.6" Power horse Laptop (ASUS N53SV, Corei7, 16GB Ram, 256GB SSD, and weighs like 5 pounds).
Then I upgraded to a 13.3" Power horse laptop (ASUS UX32VD, Core i7, 10GB Ram, 256GB SSD, and weighs <3 pounds).
-While at the same time, I have been using the Motorola Xoom 32GB Wifi as well as the Xperia Z (1st Gen) Tablet. Both of which are 10.1" diagonal screen.
So noting all this,
I am more concerned about MORE POWER in a SMALLER FORM FACTOR.
Getting the SP3 @ 12" is like me getting another ASUS UX32VD except I can touch the screen more at higher levels of pressure sensitivity. Not the big of a change, I wanted smaller and more functionality. Surface Pro 2 Fits the bill perfectly.
>>>>> Viewing Stand worth the Upgrade? <<<<<
-The SP2 comes with only 2 (3 in my opinion) settings for the viewing angle.
1st Angle is the basic opening of the Surface Pro, similar to the first generation of Surface Pros.
2nd Viewing Angle is more like the kind of viewing angle one would normally see from a tablet.
-3rd Viewing angle is the tablet flat on the table. Great for Drawing.
I have bought the SP2 with this case: "Surface Pro 2 Case, ESR Intelligent Series"
Upon closer inspection:
-Allows any possible viewing angle. The Case itself becomes the stand. The drawback is the extra bulk from the protective case, which is negligible.
-Looks incredibly professional. Quality Faux leather.
-Design does not hinder ANY ports. Allows SP2 to be charged while in case.
-Design engineered towards allowing the SP2 to breath and ventilate properly.
-Includes a Elastic Band loop to hold the SP2 Digitizer Stylus. (SUPER HAPPY, typically Case makers forget to include this)
-The SP3 Supports multiple (any possible angle allowed) straight out of the box. But due to how fragile the SP3 is (look up Surface Pro 3 Drop tests) and any sane minded person would buy a case.
-Typically a case would already obstruct the torque-viewing stand, so becomes a deal-breaker.
Then again, this really depends on how each person uses their device.
>>>> Is the 10.1" Screen too small for Windows Applications? <<<<<
-Maybe, depending on how you use the tablet.
-The desktop icons can be changed to the size of your Thumb Print if you wanted to. This will decrease the real-estate of your desktop for other icons, HOWEVER, if you use metro interface, all this is negligible due to how Metro Interface works
-Metro Interface literally grabs all your Windows Applications and slaps it onto a Side-Scrolling Canvas with icons the size of your Middle Finger Print.
I However use the desktop straight out of familiarity. And I use the smallest Icon size allowed. including Smallest icons for the task bar.
I get away with this by compensating the device with a mouse and the Type Cover 2 (The back lighting helps wonderfully when typing in a low-light classroom setting). The mouse allows me to make the more precise and miniscule clicks i need and the detachable keyboard is simply a must-have.
The on-screen keyboard is just like typing on a 10.1" android Tablet. Maybe even similar to a Apple ipad Tablet (Have tried it before and didn't notice much of a difference). However it does get in the way when needing to type on windows based application. Even typing on the browser becomes a hassle.
-I chose to ditch the Metro Interface. Its actually fun to use, but I have used Win 7 for so long, it feels alien to switch to Metro,
-Get the Type Cover 2 and the ESR protection case. Worth the money for protection and typing simplicity.
-N-trig and Battery replacement is a Gripe. I have enough to worry about when charging tablets/smartphones/laptops. The last thing i need is to carry some exotic AAAAA battery that no one sells.
I also own a Wacom inkling and the exotic battery (I think its a AAAAA) inside is RECHARGEABLE. The N-Trig isn't. Bummer.
Highly recommend this device. Worth the $650 I paid for this. Though an additional ~$60>$100 (I got one for $60) for Type Cover 2, and $40 for ESR SP2 Protection Case.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2014
Size Name: 8GB 256GB
Let me say, when I first saw the concept of the surface I thought, good grief, this is going to be a huge flop. too expensive, too heavy, etc. etc. Now, I can't speak to the surface RT, but as a power user who tries to squeeze everything possible out of his tablet (and I had an iPad and Samsung galaxy note tablets) I am delighted with this purchase. The flexibility of this device is absolutely incredible. That fact that I can run full office in windows and any other app (You can even run steam games at lower resolutions/graphics settings). The snap on keyboard cover is great for typing (not the touch one with the membrane, icky...the nice clicky one with the lighted keyboard). Does the integrated mouse pad suck? Okay you got me there. You can't have everything. It does work okay for some things but I prefer the pen for detailed clicking or the Microsoft Bluetooth Arc (awesome, no dongle). The 256 ssd is plenty roomy and because you also have up to a 64gb sd card there is plenty of room. I like to download movies and tv shows and move them to the sd card to keep the hard drive free and that works just fine.
Because of the high res screen yes, you will have to keep the desktop to 150% of the normal size AND you will probably find it necessary to increase the text size for individual items like icons and menus (I found that very helpful). The screen is absolutely stunning and video look wonderful. Also I use mine for work and presentations. Tablets were always kind of clunky for me to use and never had the exact apps I wanted running things the way I wanted them to run. I LOVE that you can use the Wacom pen to write on pdf documents using the native reader WITHOUT HAVING TO TURN ON ANY SPECIAL INKING. Also, the pen, when near the screen disables the touch input so you don't accidentally move the screen with your finger or ink with your finger. This allows you to lay your hand on the screen while writing without screwing anything up. Also, the ability to erase your inking by turning the pen over and using "the eraser" without having to hit any special buttons makes marking things up and changing them so incredibly easy. The pen is very accurate and the handwriting feels silky smooth. Really good.
Is it heavy for a tablet? Yes, but it's not a tablet It's an ultrabook that acts like a tablet. It's really only heavy if you're going to be holding it in your hands with no support, yes. I like that you can use it in portrait mode, landscape (which it was really made for) and that you can use it 1) with the keyboard open and the kickstand, 2) with the keyboard attached but flipped under the device to make the kickstand more stable on your lap, 3) with no keyboard and the kickstand or 4) no keyboard in your lap as a plain tablet. You can use your finger, trackpad, pen, or external mouse for navigation. A very flexible device.
Does the windows store have the app selection of google play or iTunes? Hell no. It probably will never catch up. Ever. However, there are a number of very useable apps and I absolutely love the layout of the news app and my subscriptions to the NY times and WSJ work very well. What I love is the versatility. I can seamlessly switch back and forth from desktop supercomputer for high powered office work to fun tablet apps and news browsing video watching. I haven't picked up my tablet once since I've purchase this device. Hell I'm not even picking up my behemoth desktop replacement ASUS gaming notebook except for big time video editing and content creation and high end gaming.
Battery life is extremely good, 6-7 hours using balanced power mode. Also if you get the (not cheap) 200 dollar keyboard/battery it effectively increase the battery life by approximately 75%. You could use this thing nonstop on an international flight and most likely never run out of juice. That keyboard is quite heavy however, adding to the weight considerably, but it uses the keyboard battery first before using the internal battery so you can just take it off if you're not doing heavy typing once it's spent.
What don't I like? If you don't know how to fix them, tiny tiny fonts. Most can be made much better. I haven't really found anything particularly frustrating however. Windows 8.1 takes some super getting used to, but after you get the feel of it you can switch so quickly it just feels like 2nd nature. Also the comfort of knowing that if I can't find something in the app store for the metro interface that I can always find great windows software to run from the desktop.
If you're tired of having "desktop equivalent" office products on a tablet, then I highly recommend this device
If you're a power user I highly recommend this device
If you don't want to lug a large notebook but need access to your important work stuff that is NOT available on any tablet, I highly recommend this device
If you want a fun device fused to your work device in one package I highly recommend this device.
I would NEVER have purchased this device if it were an RT running only the metro interface. No way, no how, and honestly I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone ever would when you compare it to other tablets. The PRO version puts this device in a class by itself if you ask me.
Also, hooks easily to any monitor using adapters like mini display port to vga or to hdmi, you don't even need a proprietary dongle, A standard mini display port to hdmi cable works perfectly.
Windows apps like office are snappy snappy snappy.
okay i'm getting tired of typing. Contact me if you have questions. I'll answer them the best I can.