30 days with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 – My review of the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 64 Gig four weeks later

So I took my sweet time reviewing the Surface Pro 2 because I didn’t want to hold on to it for a week and then give a rushed review.

You can read my unboxing of the Surface Pro 2 here and some of my usage issues here.

So I got the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 in October when it was released and had a chance to play with it for a while. My review is somewhat mixed because the device is a device that is defined by contradictions.

More on that later.

Here’s what I liked about the Surface Pro 2.

The look

Gorgeous

The new Surface Pro 2 looks pretty gorgeous. It feels like a very beautiful sleek tablet that is somewhat futuristic. Whenever I took it to Starbucks and had it open alongside the Macbook Pro, I would get at least 5 comments throughout the day. I think Microsoft did a fabulous job with the look and feel.

The Pen

I have been waiting for a great tablet and pen combo and boy this one does deliver. It’s a great pen with a pressure-sensitive tip for drawing. In apps that support pen pressure, applying pressure thickens the line and using OneNote, you can actually draw/write perfectly using the pen casually.

Battery Life

I got 7.5 hours of battery life on average and thats not bad at all. It also didn’t get that hot or loud which is extremely impressive. Great job there.

Performance

Gosh Golly Wow. That thing FLIES! The new Surface Pro 2 is powered by Intel’s latest Haswell Core i5 processor and even though I read all the reviews that you all probably did, I was stunned by how fast it was.

Apps opened almost instantly and it was *sigh* I’ll say it “Fast and Fluid”. It was very impressive performance wise. Not only can this thing run games but it can also run large applications like the Adobe Suite of products just fine.

The Keyboard

surface pro 2 keyboard

I got a Type Cover and it was pretty decent as far as keyboards that attach to tablets go. I tell people though, it’s not like we have a lot to compare that to right? It’s kind of a one of a kind proposition – Microsoft did this first and it works pretty well.

It runs Windows 8.1

The great thing about the Pro (for those of you who may not know) is that it actually runs Windows 8.1 full blown as opposed to Windows RT. It does feel good to have the full Windows package at your disposal.

The display

10.6in ClearType HD (1920×1080 pixels)10-point multi-touch. It looks pretty cool and since I have been using a Macbook Pro with a retina screen, giving another screen a compliment now means something. Everything looked crisp and coupled with the processor speed, it performed well.

Not bad eh? After using this for a while, it did have some really good attributes.

OK, so you got the Ying, now here’s the Yang.

Here’s what I didn’t like about the Surface Pro 2.

The Screen

Just too small. I can’t use a screen that small for a long term device. I like larger screens and would buy a MacBook pro 17 if they had a version with a retina screen. I have a 15.4 inch screen which is just enough for me at this point. Moving to 10.6 is a non starter – period. It gets old feeling cramped.

The Trackpad

The trackpad on the Type Cover was awful. I wanted to slide down with 2 fingers and there seemed to be a 1 second delay when I started the motion. Without a solid trackpad, its hard to take a keyboard seriously IMHO.

The two step Stand

microsoft-surface-pro-2-stand

The rear of the Surface Pro 2 features a built-in kickstand that unfolds from the center of the tablet.

Unlike the stand on the original Surface Pro, which could only open as wide as 24 degrees, the new kickstand features a 24-degree angle that’s ideal for typing at your desk and a 40-degree angle that makes it easier to view the tablet when it’s resting on your lap.

While the stand is a novel idea and seems to work relatively well, I can’t see myself using it on my lap for an extended amount of time. It never really felt stable enough for me.

The Weight

portrait view

Oh my goodness, a massive fail on this one. In an age where Apple has a tablet that weighs one pound, this is 2.4 pounds (with cover) and the extra weight isn’t really noticeable…until it is.

When you are reading a book or something and you start to hold the tablet up for longer than 2 minutes, you feel the weight and its NOT a good feeling. It really does feel (relatively) heavy and uncomfortable for long periods of time being held. I know that’s because of all the hardware crammed into the unit but still, I’m saying…

The use case

I think this device is fabulous for employees and students but I’m not sure that people who are not in those categories would love it. I have a laptop and an iPad so exactly what would this replace for me? I use VMWare on my Mac so I have both Operating Systems and don’t need another tablet/laptop. Who is Microsoft going to convince to switch at this…

Price

At $900 for the basic 64 GB model, $1300 for the 256 GB version and $1799 for the 512GB version plus $130 for a Type Cover 2, as my old friend Rick James says “Cocaine is a hell of a drug”. I wouldn’t spend the money for that screen size and device because quite frankly, using Windows 8.1 on a hybrid can be done for much less.

ASUS-Transformer-Book-T100

ASUS-Transformer-Book-T100

Consider the ASUS Transformer book T100.

Adrian Kingsley Hughes said the following:

Price: You can pick up the T100 for $379 from online retailers such as Amazon, which is a full $70 less than an entry-level Surface 2 tablet.
OS: The T100 runs the full x86 version of Windows 8.1, not the ARM-powered Windows RT that the Surface 2 runs. If you want a Surface Pro 2 that runs the full version of Windows 8.1 then you’re looking at a starting price of $899.Microsoft Office: Full version of Microsoft Office (Home and Student 2013) versus the cut-down version for Windows RT.
Faster CPU: Intel Atom versus Nvidia Tegra 4.
Better battery life: 11 hours versus 10 hours.
Light:: 1.2lbs versus 1.49lbs

All this for $379. Hard to beat.

I left my 30 days with the Surface Pro convinced that it will do very well with corporate America as long as Microsoft get off their asses and get the (ugly) docking station out in the new year.

For a student or a worker, this is still the best way to have the best of both worlds. If I was doing an MBA, I would take this to classes and dock it when I got back to my room/apartment.

For everyone else, I think the price makes it uncompetitive. It’s really tough to shell out close to two thousand dollars for this type of hardware and yes yes, I know – its not just a tablet, its a real computer.

It’s a very good effort by Microsoft though and you tend to forget that they are new in the hardware space. I wouldn’t buy one right now but I can see a use case for having one.

Do you have a Surface Pro 2? What do you think?

Use the comments below…

Onuora Amobi is the CEO of Learn About The Web Inc. Onuora has more than a decade of information security, project management and management consulting experience. He has specialized in the management and deployment of large scale ERP client/server systems. In addition to being a former Microsoft MVP and the founder and editor of EyeOnWindows.com, he is the CEO of a Pasadena based online marketing education startup - Learn About The Web Inc. (www.learnabouttheweb.com).

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