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

Surface Pro 2 at Starbucks

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…

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Comments

  • Manny

    Great review!

    I got a Surface Pro 2 myself and I can tell you that it was pretty cool but I feel you about the screen though.

  • Mike

    Great review dude!

    I think the ASUS is the better deal…

  • Carlos William

    hehehehehehehee, there is absolutely nothing else to say to you. Why did you even bother to buy that device. If you would rather use a MacBook Pro with a Retina display and a 1 pound iThis or iThat. Oh dear. That is still a tablet not a Ultrabook.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Well it’s meant to be “more than a tablet”.

      :-)

      • WillyThePooh

        So the screen size is like a tablet and the weight is like an ultrabook.

  • Kristján Guðnason

    Of course you would consider the Asus a better deal…but what if you factor in the cost of a wacom stylus vs none, full hd screen vs 720, i5 vs Atom. This is a powerhouse of possibilities. Too bad M$ couldn’t deliver the best accessories on launch like the WiFi keyboard module and docking station.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Yeah…why a credible docking station wasn’t available when the last Surface was launched is malpractice on Microsoft’s part.

  • mgp

    Why do you write about Microsoft when you always have negative things to say. Write about Apple, you will be happier, and so will we!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      I actually do love Microsoft products.

      Oh well…

      • mgp

        BIG BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

          LOL

          When you’ve spent as much time writing about Microsoft as a hobby, let me know.

          Believe me, it aint just the money.

          • mgp

            You bitch too much Onuora!!!, did I hit a nerve?

          • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

            LOL

            Never a nerve. When a nerve is hit I can close comments or ban the commenter.

  • Wes

    Terrible review!
    1) Screen too small – All you need to do is get a monitor and plug it in. I am pretty sure when people buy the Surface they will be aware of the screen size. Also, comparing the Surface to the MacBook Pro does not make sense. If you think it does, please take the MCP, pull the keyboard out and use it. You can then come back and tell me why you prefer it.
    2) Asus T100 – Why did you not delve more into this part more? List out the specifications of both products and we can instantly see why the Surface Pro is so much more expensive. There is a reason why one is marketed as a budget model while the other is marketed as one of the top in its class.
    3) The use case – The Surface is marketed as an in between product. It can be a laptop and a tablet at the same time. In other words, it could replace your Mac and your iPad at the same time. Not many people can afford getting a tablet and a laptop! My laptop is 2 years old and I am using an iPad 3. When either of these items break down, I will be getting the Surface because it will simply cost too much to replace both items. All I need to do is connect a monitor to my Surface at home or at work to instantly get extra workspace. If you check Youtube, there are users who have managed to get 4 monitors running using a USB hub with the Surface Pro 2.

    In the end, this feels more like an opinion piece on why you hate the Surface Pro and why you like your Mac and iPad. I hope that more details and thought go into future reviews.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      For the record I dont hate Surface Pro 2.

      I took the time to spend with it precisely so I could see what I REALLY thought.

      To your points.

      1) The screen is too small – if you spend time docked then get a desktop. It’s a tablet so I shouldn’t have to be docked to fully appreciate it. Ridiculous.

      2) I did list out the specs. when I want to do a full review I will.

      3) So let me get this straight – I should replace Ipad and Macbook Pro (over $2500) for yet another product? What sense does that make? That makes no sense at all. If I didn’t have them, it would be a better case but I do and based on Apples stock price, a lot of people do too.

      Thanks for the comment though.

      :-)

      • mgp

        So then go play with your IPad and Mac book pro and don’t write about products you have no intention on using and hate (even though you won’t admit it, cause it would cost you money.) You are such a FRAUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

          Thanks for the comment!

          Love the passion.

          :-)

      • WillyThePooh

        1) Did you complain to Apple that their iPad screen is too small? Did you tell them you need a 17″ iPad?
        2) T100 is totally not a competitor of Surface Pro 2. It should not be mentioned here at all. One is entry product and the other is top of the line. Also, H&S Office is not a full version. It doesn’t come with Outlook while the Office RT does.
        3) As you don’t need another device, of course no one can convince you to spend $1000 to get one. But that should not be a con in your article. For someone who is out looking for a new device, it should be a viable product to consider.

    • Seath

      I have to agree this is one terrible review!

  • Søren Bo

    I received my preordered Surface Pro 2 on the release date here in Denmark, and wow. What a machine. I was disappointed a little though, because I couldn´t get the new touchcover on the same time. What a mistake from Microsoft; but I have got it now. This machine is a pure pleasure to work with and what a screen. Why do you Onuora, being an Apple fanatic, who writes microsoft tests ? :)

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      I’m actually not an Apple fanatic.

      Consider that this blog has over 7000 articles about Microsoft and Windows 8/Windows 8.1. The majority of those 7000 articles are discussing exciting news about Windows.

      I’m just performing real world no BS reviews. People out there have a lot of other devices already, I cant pretend they dont.

      Thanks for the comment though.

      • mgp

        NO BS REVIEWS!!!!!!! Now that’s BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • WillyThePooh

        Don’t lie! In the article, you clearly said that your main devices are from Apple and you said you are not an Apple fanatic. Oh no.

  • WillyThePooh

    “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…”

    If you don’ need another tablet/laptop, how can anyone convince you to buy one? You are asking for too much.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      How many people have absolutely no laptops or tablets today and can afford to spend $899?

      Thats the question Pooh

      • WillyThePooh

        What I want to say is if you need to buy a top of the line tablet/laptop now, would you choose Surface Pro, ultrabook or MacBook Pro? But now you show that you are satisfied with your current system. And said MS can’t convince you to switch from your current system is a con. That’s not right.

        • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

          If I needed to buy a top of the line tablet/laptop I would buy a Macbook Air at the same price. Light as a tablet but with laptop functionality.

          I respect that people have different opinions and they may choose differently BUT most of them haven’t spent any time with the Surface Pro 2 and I have.

          I’m not saying anything that other reviewers havent said. Its heavy and the screen is small and it has very good attributes as well.

          A mixed bag for sure. It’s all good either way.

          • Arnold

            You have spent 0 time with any windows 8 device, you have been brainwashed and have gotten your head stuck in a way of thinking that prevents you from actually seeing the truth. I use an RT device 100% of the time, I know what I am talking about not you.

          • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

            Thanks for making my point.

            You didn’t pay $899 for a Pro 2.

          • WillyThePooh

            That’s a better opinion than what you have said in the article above. But Bacbook Air is still not the 17″ screen you prefer for long term use. So it is still a con, right?

  • WillyThePooh

    “Just too small. I can’t use a screen that small for a long term device. I like larger screens”
    How can you carry a 17″ laptop around with you? 10″ tablet is for you carry it around easily. If you need a bigger screen, connect it to a large monitor. It is actually a better option than having 2 devices- one for home/work and the other for everywhere else.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      No compromise for $899. Thats what you’re asking me to do.

      • WillyThePooh

        I am just commenting about your complaint about the screen is too small. With Surface Pro, you can connect a big screen if you need to. But for carry around, 10.6″ is one of the biggest screen available for tablet. Look at your iPad and you would know.

        • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

          I know but thats a $499 device. Look I am just giving my impressions.

          Whats really funny is that 99% of the people mad at me in the comments section WILL NOT buy this device.

          Truth hurts.

          • WillyThePooh

            You mean because you pay $499, then you can stand a small screen. But when you pay $1000, you need a 17″ screen to make it worth. Why do you always link screen size to price?
            Beside, I do have Surface and iPad and screen size is definitely not a con on a tablet.

  • NazmusLabs

    Hi. I’m a student, and I MUST have a stylus. No other device has a good enough stylus. I wish the RT version did; the pro is too expensive and I don’t know how to afford it.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      You’re right. If you could afford it this would be the one for you.

  • Mark

    Lenovo makes a Helix model that does this better at a lower weight, but again it’s pricey.

    Actually, a cheaper alternative for students would be an iPad with the VMware View client and connecting to your school’s VDI environment (most mid-to-large universities have a VDI environment). Or a standard Windows desktop, an iPad and RDP – high mobility and access to a full powered but inexpensive Windows system on the cheap.

    The one thing you didn’t address is the disaster that is Metro. Even in a tablet/touch environment that mess is the biggest drawback to any Win8 device. Apple or even Android have done touch much better. The Windows store is horribly weak in content compared to Appstore or Google Play. I’m not an Apple fanboy; this is a numerical fact. There’s a reason corporate isn’t going Win8 and that manufacturers like Lenovo are adding a ‘real’ Start button.

    • Arnold

      Metro is not a disaster and now way in hell does either oIs or Android does netter in touch than windows 8 modern design. If you believe that you are smoking something heavy.

      • Mark

        IOS and Android both do tablet environments better, in my opinion. But I’ll back my opinion up with the what the market shows when comparing those to Metro. However, the mix of Metro + Desktop is the real disaster. Give us a WIn7-classic mode and keep all the good parts of 8.1. Under the hood, I’m fairly impressed. It’s the UI that blows.

        • Arnold

          The market doesn’t show anything. The market shows Saturation. It shows that it is an uphill battle for any one coming in after years of IOS and Android and people’s natural inclination to stick with what they know. But once you actaully try metro and stop the BS complaining and have an open mind… Once you do that you will soon realize that it is more fluid and efficient of a UI.

          • Mark

            My direct personal experience is with testing and personal use on a non-touch 13″ laptop (purchased Summer 2013) a 13″ touch-enabled laptop. In both cases I ran WIn8 and upgraded to 8.1 (one almost immediately after release and the touch one only this week). I have personal and professional experience, as I support Win7 and a small number of Win8 machines, as well as using 2 regularly. My Win7 users migrated from XP fine and would benefit from moving to Win8.1 if and ONLY if there was a classic mode that let them use the best of Win8.x without the Metro interface.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Hey Mark, If I said that, these guys would KILL me on here…

      Thanks for the comment…

  • miguelmateojp

    Onuora: you just lost another subscriber from your almost daily newsletter! This review is absolute BS!!! You can not compare this tablet with an iPad! You can absolutely not compare it with the ASUS crap! Try the ASUS for 30 days and do a review. Try the iPAd for 30 days (solely, nolaptop) and do a review then. Try your MAc Pro for 30 days (solely, no iPad) and do a review then. You can’t simply compare dude!

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      I use my Mac Pro alone already. Just fine. I have VMWare.

      Thanks.

      :-)

  • Mike Greenway

    What you like, what you don’t like. This assumes that your arbitrary emotions are relevant to your readers. The post really tells us more about You then it does about the surface, what I might like wasn’t considered.

  • Arnold

    You guys notice how Onoura has been off his own site for a while and the site has been flourishing with good information, then he comes back and boom he starts a commotion with his lack of vision and foresight. At least he sees now some positive points but he always has to have a “but” a “but” that is completely unfair and senseless to even bring up.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      LOVE YOU ARNOLD.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • traviserck

        You have to admit it is more fun laughing at the trolls trying so hard…………

        There’s many legitimate arguments but some posts are blatantly attacks.

        I do commend that your allowing free flow of conversation and laughing at some of it. That shows alot about you! In a good way!

        Just so you know……….

        I use a desktop Win 8.1 PC.
        My phone is Iphone.
        My tablet is a Samsung – Android.

        I now have the best of all 3 worlds.
        Am I fanboi now? Or did I buy what I thought works best for me?
        LOL

  • aseries

    Onuora, you need to start all your reviews and articles by stroking the Apple fanbois and telling them how wise they are to have such wonderful products. They don’t really read about anything else anyway.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      LOL

      I would rather do that than pretend Apple and Android products dont exist. We’re in 2013 not 2003.

      :-)

      Also keep in mind that I am an affiliate for Microsoft products – I get paid when you buy them from this site. If I was unethical, I would lie and encourage sales.

      Tells you something.

  • aseries

    I bought the ASUS 64GB T100 Transformer Tablet from Amazon for $399 as soon as the mania died down and Amazon actually had a supply. It doesn’t have the graphics specs that come with the zoomy products that cost 3 or 4 times as much but it is just as usable. The new Atom Bay Trail chipset has plenty of power and great battery life. The Tablet detached weighs 1 pound and is very nice to use in that mode. In my office at home I am using the HDMI port with a 22 inch monitor at 1050X1680. I tried an adapter but there is not enough clearance next to the MicroUSB port so I had to get a micro HDMI cable and a male-male adapter. I am using a 64GB high speed microSD card and a USB 3.0 external SSD for extra storage. The only real problem I have seen is the Windows 8.1 issue with FLASH. I think the T100 is is a very viable alternative to the Surface Pro.

  • Adam Rochefort

    I think I’ll stick with my Lenovo X220T. It does everything that I need, along with having a 14-17 hour battery life. However I would love having the two cameras option along with the ability to remove the keyboard. Most people I’ve talked to who have purchased the Surface 2 are happy with it. But I think Microsoft needs to extend the time for the 2 year free storage of 200GB Skydrive space to 4 years. Perhaps by offering something like end to end encryption premium services for Skydrive, MS could make up for that loss. I can definitely see them competing by utilizing a combination of great free offers and premium services. They also need to create a bundle price for their total ecosystem like ISPs offer. It’s still very difficult to find people with the Windows Phones, and that is most definitely something they need to include in the experience as it will keep them within the Windows ecosystem. One more thing that I see which annoys me, no Surface pen for Surface 2. If they added that it could become a competitive device for students who prefer ink notes whose parents would not be able to afford the Surface Pro 2. Plus people like to draw, doodle, whatever. Beyond the age of childhood no one really likes to finger paint. However if that would indeed greatly increase the cost for production then the bundling of products I mentioned could offset that as well.

  • JohnnyG321

    Hi Onoura,
    I just wanted to say that I agree with almost everything you said in your review. Sorry to see some of the flames you’ve gotten. Ah, but such is the internet.

    I do want to say though that your comment about the screen size did strike me as a bit odd. As you point out, the Surface 2 is in a tablet form factor. When you’re using the tablet as a tablet (i.e. in Metro/Modern/Windows Store mode) that screen size is great. Given that it’s larger than any other tablet out there (unless I’m mistaken), it just seems like an odd comment.

    On the other hand, if you’re using it in desktop mode, I would have a hard time understanding how a 10.6? inch screen would not be too small for anything other than minor editing, though I believe it’s in line with most ultrabooks. It’s not too bad when the dpi is set higher than the standard, but I can’t use Visual Studio that way.

    It seems to me that the most typical use case for a Surface (2) Pro would be to only really use that small screen in desktop mode when you’re traveling and absolutely need to run a desktop app. Otherwise, Metro would be the better way to go. At home or office, I can’t imagine using the desktop for anything serious unless it’s docked and hooked up to external monitors. Of course, I feel the same way about most laptops with larger screens – even my workstation laptop with a 17-inch widescreen display.

    I guess it just seems odd that you would comment that tablet has a screen that is too small – which is kind of the point. It seems a bit like you’re still seeing the device from a purely desktop perspective when, in fact, it’s meant to be something new; somewhere in between tablet and ultrabook with enough power to do more when you need it. I hope that makes sense.

  • Robert W. Burnham

    It’s a compelling product. I would love to have the 512 gig version to replace my Surface RT and desktop workstation. I could plug in my 1440p monitor when it’s docked and I could get some real work done.

    The problem is, the hardware it would be replacing costs around $1000, so essentially I would be paying an extra $800 for the convenience of consolidating two systems into one. That’s not even counting the $200 dock, which would turn it into a full desktop replacement.

    If money were no object, I’d be all over it, but as is, it’s just too costly, regardless o the nice build quality.

  • cangowrong

    My wife used a Surface 1, 128gb for a semester and liked it quite a bit. She’s in a medical program and used the video, and picture taking ability in one-note daily. I think for a majority of students, this thing is a slam dunk… As you said, IF they get a good docking station out. The 17″ size is simply a personal preference for what you use it for.

    I think MS did an exceptional job on this, and the 2 is only better. Unfortunately, that price point is going to put it out of reach for the only real group of people that will find fewest flaws, the students. To take a page from Dell’s XT design group, awesome product ! Crappy supply chain !

  • Darlington Jones

    The same reasons you didn’t like it, are the same reasons I didn’t buy it. Too heavy, can’t use on lap (that was the haystack on the camel’s back), and the straw that broke the camel’s back – the price. Sent from my T100. Bought a laptop for cheaper than a pro 2. ***Disclaimer: I own MSFT stock ;)