95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
Surface Pro 2 - The Most Evolved Tablet Ever... Really.,
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This review is from: Microsoft Surface Pro 2 with 128GB, Windows 8.1 Pro - Dark Titanium (Personal Computers)
I purchased the original Surface RT tablet. Mostly out of curiosity. It was "interesting" I bought the "Touch" keyboard with it. The touch keyboard really does a disservice to Microsoft and to the device. It DOES work, but not well enough. It was definitely a first cut at it.
Several months later my wife wanted a new PC. She was dumping her Mac because it didn't support the apps she used at school (she's a teacher). So when I looked around, I considered the Surface 2 Pro.
The Surface Pro 2 is a very handsome piece of hardware --but moreover, it's different. Microsoft really has created a new category here. This is a tablet, but definitely not an iPad --it's a lot more. It's not a laptop in the traditional sense --but it does what your laptop used to do in a slick form factor. The materials are quality through out. The color keyboard (I chose the Magenta Type 2) looks and feels impressive. When the wallpaper is matched to the keyboard color it really looks unique. To borrow a word that Apple "owns" the coordinated keyboard and wallpaper colors --they really are "beautiful."
The screen is excellent quality. It definitely made me want to look at it. The touch screen works well. It did make me want to touch and play with it a bit.
The keyboard is great. It's a smaller than the MacBook Air I use, but it is great to type on. Actually I'm finding typing on the MacBook a little slower now, as it feels like the keys are a bit far apart now. That's just habit from using her Surface --but indicative of the device I now pickup when I go to check the news or do a quick search.
You can't adequately see or feel the first impression this tablet makes online. It's very good. Overall, my wife was very happy when she first saw it --and she's doesn't like change, didn't know exactly what it was ("well is it a tablet or a laptop?" she asked). She was all smiles. Home run first impression.
Experience with The Device
The kickstand is a truly defining feature of this product. The Surface Pro 2 introduced a two position kickstand so you could adjust the position of the screen depending on the way your sitting. It's very helpful if laying on the couch and working.
The battery has been fine. No complaints. We generally do keep it charged, and let it run down periodically, though we're not as good about either as may be ideal. It just works, and that's good enough for us. There was one time we let it run down to "beyond zero" --and the device wouldn't start. When we plugged it in, it still didn't start and we panicked a bit that it had for some reason become a "brick" --on another machine I went to the Surface online help --which is overall much better than any online help experience I have had with Windows. It's another big change for Microsoft products. It made another positive impression. While going through the online help we were able to restart it, there may be some reserve space in the battery that charges for a good reason before it starts up --perhaps to ensure there's enough battery left to ensure an orderly shutdown when the battery is about done and your not near a charger, or forgot about it like we did.
The feel of the interface is generally good. Swiping is nice. I installed Chrome since that's what we were using on other devices, but it really didn't work as well on Windows 81. as it does on Mac or Windows 7. My feeling is Google is not wholeheartedly supporting Windows 8.1 --no point in helping Microsoft get a tablet adopted among Google's browser users. Internet Explorer is fine however, it's a fast browser and pretty snappy experience to use. It does take some getting used to, instead of ever-present tabs, it's full screen web browsing and you access open "tabs" with a flick up from the bottom of the screen. Full screen browsing by default is interesting. Again if you're only using this device, you'll likely expect that, my feeling is it's a good experience on a touch based device like this.
Office came preinstalled, as a trial. Office is now downloaded only I believe --good as their is no optical drive on the device, and you really don't need it anymore. Broadband has effectively killed external media at large. Office is good. A bit different in the all touch interface. I used an early version of the Cloud based Microsoft Project and it was pretty bad --they released it way too early. The core Office product at this point is pretty good. I'm guessing they are going to keep refining it as they get more and more Surface users. Supposedly they sold almost a billion dollars of Surfaces in 2013 so that trend may accelerate.
The number one reason I bought my wife a Surface was she had an app that she needed for school that she couldn't run on her MacBook Air (which I got her the prior year for Christmas). She installed it on Windows 8.1 rather quickly. While the vendor did not have a Windows 8.1 or touch specific version yet --they showed clearly on their website they were supporting Windows 8.1 --which is another way of saying that your "old" Windows 7 apps work on the Surface and with 8.1.
The Surface runs updates frequently and keeps itself current. I believe we set it to do that automatically, which in general is a good idea. This Surface came with 8.1 installed which was a substantial improvement over Windows 8. The rumors that Windows 8 shipped incomplete are probably true. This device like took a hit in the court of public opinion --which was also probably muted due to low sales of the device on the first release. I almost never use my Surface RT version 1 anymore after using the Surface Pro 2 --it's a huge leap forward --and granted it's a lot more money.
Our first reaction was to ignore the Stylus. I've had phones that have them and found them all to be a waste. My current Galaxy Note 2 has one and software to go with it and I don't. No utility at all.
The Surface Pro 2 Stylus and character recognition software however simply works. I was surprised to see how well. My handwriting is pretty bad after so many years of touch typing and a very digital career, but the stylus is a 10. If or when I get a Surface tablet (Surface 3?) for work --and It looks like I would-- I can see myself using it to take notes in meetings. Right now for me personally, I don't use it much because I don't need to --I type relatively well.
The Stylus attaches magnetically to the power port on the device. This isn't brilliant per se. When you leave the device there is no way to keep the Stylus with it when it's charging --since the power cord is attached.
The Power Cord
The power cord even looks cool and is made of a very flexible rubbery material. More like a mac, but I think better. The cord is a soft matte black. It looks good and matches the device aesthetically very nicely. The magnetic connector is great --a nod to Apple's Mag Safe connector. It has a little light integrated into the tip that shows it's charging. To attach the cord you only have to touch it to it. It snaps in magnetically pretty reliably. My Surface RT didn't do that so nicely at all --but they got it right on this version.
App Store, Music
There aren't as many apps on the Microsoft App store, but they have all the big ones that "everyone" uses: Facebook, Twitter, etc. There are some really good games. I'm not much of a gamer per se, but our kids love them. There is a race car game that really shows the speed, screen quality and power of the device. The call it Xbox Games as there is apparently some connection between the Surface and the Xbox is you have one. I'd have to guess they are going to continue to drive hard at making those connections more valuable over time --though we don't have an Xbox today.
Xbox Music is neat --free streaming music and you can pick songs. The interface is really attractive. They are clearly motivated by iTunes dominance to make it work well, and it does. You can import your music from the device into the Xbox Music cloud.
Having a USB port is very big deal for a laptop type device. My wife plugged in her inkjet printer and it just worked. That was very important for her as a teacher. She also has a wireless USB mouse she liked more than the Magic Mouse with her Mac, and plugged that in, also worked effortlessly. A "tablet" with a mouse is nicer than you might think. I like using the mouse with it, though I notice certain things I "naturally" reach up and use the touch screen. The work together well on the device --which was unexpected as well, and probably a consideration.
My wife is one to get bored with devices (laptops, tablets) but she seems to always be on her Surface Pro 2. Microsoft produced a device you can buy and appreciate here after stumbling badly with the original RT device I bought.
I would highly recommend it to anyone considering a new laptop, or a new tablet. If you use Office heavily, it's a no brainer --but interestingly enough, if you aren't a heavy office user it's still pretty great. If you like to use a tablet more recreationally, as we do, it's at least as engaging and useful as the iPad --the proof is we have 2 iPads, and virtually never use them anymore. I think that could be a big statement in itself it does render the iPad a little "obsolete" in our household we gave them to our young kids.
5 stars for the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and Type 2 Keyboard.
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Initial post: Mar 15, 2014 4:01:58 PM PDT
Joe Mcnally says:
A fine review - thanks
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