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Microsoft Surface Pro 2 specs review: better, faster, stronger

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 2 specs review: better, faster, stronger

The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is a product that has been in development for 18 months, as the company's corporate VP, Panos Panay, stated during its unveiling. Therefore, it should bring quite a lot of innovation and improvements over the previous Surface Pro tablet, right? Well, we can't be so sure about that, and it will take about a month until we get to take it for a test-drive. We can, however, share with you our thoughts on its specifications and features.

Design


At a glance, not a whole lot seems to have changed. Microsoft hasn't altered its design formula, sticking to the edgy profile we remember from the first Surface Pro tablet. But the tablet's first version was build well, and we hope that its successor has followed suit. After all, it sports the same "VaporMg" magnesium casing, known for its durability. The built-in kickstand is definitely a stand-out feature, and on the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, it can be set at two degree levels, depending on whether the tablet is placed on a table, or on the user's lap.

All the necessary ports, knobs, and outputs are positioned on the tablet's left and right sides, the only exception being the power key located on top. Among them is a full-sized USB port, which, thankfully, is USB 3.0 capable. That means all your USB 3.0 external hard drives or USB drives will fly with this thing, reaching higher data transfer rates than what USB 2.0 allows.

Tablets based on Intel Core processors are usually thick and heavy, or at least much thicker and heavier than their Android or iOS counterparts. The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is not an exception, tipping the scales at 2 lbs (907 grams). Its thickness of over half an inch isn't anything to write home about either, but that's the sacrifice one has to make if they are to have a Core chip's power at their disposal. 

Display


Microsoft Surface Pro 2 with a 10.6-inch Full HD display

Microsoft Surface Pro 2 with a 10.6-inch Full HD display

No surprises here, guys. Microsoft has chosen to go with a 10.6-inch ClearType touchscreen display for the Surface Pro 2. Its resolution hasn't been upgraded, so the pixel count is still set at 1920 by 1080. That results in a decent level of detail and a very clear image as a whole, but we've seen better on competitor's products. On the bright side of things, Microsoft has gone with a screen panel that has 46% better color accuracy, and that's good to hear.

Interface


Windows 8.1 comes pre-loaded on the Microsoft Surface Pro 2, as expected. It brings a better on-screen keyboard, new alignment features, allowing one to have two or more windows opened side by side, Internet Explorer 11, UI scaling at up to 200%, and more minor and major improvements. The good old Start button has been brought back, for all who were bothered by its absence. 

Skype will be one of the apps pre-installed onto the device. What's more is that anyone who chooses to purchase a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet will receive a year of free international calls and access to Skype public Wi-Fi hotpsots. Neat!

Processor and Memory


Intel Core i5 goes inside the Surface Pro 2

Intel Core i5 goes inside the Surface Pro 2

The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is clearly meant to be used by performance-demanding professionals, although all that horsepower should be enough to run lots of heavy video games as well. Under its hood we find a fourth-generation Intel Core i5-4200U "Haswell" processor, clocked at 1.6 GHz, but capable of running at up to 2.6GHz thanks to Intel's Turbo Boost tech. Intel HD Graphics 4400 is what handles the eye-candy, delivering 50% better graphics performance when compared to last year's Surface Pro. Furthermore, the user has at least 4GB of RAM at their disposal, with 8 gigs available in pricier configurations. From the looks of it, the tablet will fly, executing even heavy tasks with ease. In fact, during the tablet's announcement, Microsoft demonstrated its Surface Pro 2 handling an input stream of RAW 6K video data without breaking a sweat. All in all, Microsoft is convincing us that the Surface Pro 2 is faster than 95% of today's laptops.

The base Microsoft Surface Pro 2 model will ship with 64GB of on-board storage, and we're expecting about half of that to be available for apps and storing files. For a Windows 8 machine, that's hardly enough space, so it would be wise to go for at least a 128GB variant. Models with 256 and 512GB of SSD storage will be also available, but at a significantly higher cost. Thankfully, the tablet comes with a microSD card slot for storage expansion and 200GB of cloud space thanks to SkyDrive.

Camera and multimedia


Microsoft Surface Pro 2 gets upgraded speakers

Microsoft Surface Pro 2 gets upgraded speakers

We're surprised to see that Microsoft hasn't done anything to the cameras found on its new Surface Pro tablet. On the front and back of the device, We find the same 0.9MP cams, capable of taking 720p videos. They will get the job done for video conversations, but their still photographs are likely to be underwhelming.

What has been upgraded, on the other hand, is the set of stereo speakers found on the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet. They now feature tech by Dolby, which will supposedly treat our ears to clearer, louder sound. We aren't expecting anything groundbreaking, of course.

Battery life


The first-gen Microsoft Surface Pro had a 5-hour battery life, which was a bummer. The new model, however, can last 75% longer, so it should get you through almost a full work day on a single charge. For those who need extra power, a keyboard dock – the Power Cover, sold separately – provides up to 150% extra juice with its built-in battery.

Expectations


And that's the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 in a nutshell. It is shaping up as a good device, but we wish its maker had more to impress us with. All, in all, the Surface Pro 2 a tablet that's in many ways better than last year's Surface Pro, but looking at it now, we can't help to think that Microsoft should have some more spice to the Surface Pro's successor. After all, Windows 8 tablets aren't exactly selling like there's no tomorrow, and a stand-out member of the species would have been great having in the game. Despite being developed by Microsoft itself, the Surface Pro 2 might not be that hero, but then again, we could be wrong. Guess we'll see in a few months once the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is out. It will be available for pre-order from Microsoft's online store start tomorrow, September 24, starting at $899. 

14 Comments
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posted on 23 Sep 2013, 13:37

1. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1048; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


folks where is the Surface Pro 2 with the more powerful Intel i7 Haswell CPU this is the CPU needed to really make the Surface pro capable doing every high level CAD program or HD game ever made to play on a PC. A lot of souls waited for the Surface pro 2 to come out before they Put down their money to buy one to see the hardware and software bugs of the surface Pro to be worked out. I think the surface pro 2 will sell better than the original one did. it has better battery life, it's faster, has a better kickstand with more positions, it has a good strong dock now. the new Windows 8.1 software is better. those who can to buy one will be happy they did.The price of the surface pro 2 is it's weakness. a lot of People will like the surface pro 2 but will they pay the price to OWN ONE!

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 14:19 1

2. DLanor1107 (Posts: 31; Member since: 01 Apr 2013)


huh?...

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 14:22 1

3. jove39 (Posts: 1261; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


CAD and heavy gaming...may be next year when intel has even lower tdp processors...that generate low heat and consume less power.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 15:51 2

4. yowanvista (Posts: 298; Member since: 20 Sep 2011)


With a 4th gen i7, you must be joking right? This isn't a high-end laptop nor does it have any type of cooling fans to drive out all the heat that would kill it in a matter of hours.

posted on 24 Sep 2013, 20:01

12. realnic55 (Posts: 2; Member since: 24 Sep 2013)


You're not too bright are you? You know they make dual core mobile versions of the i7 designed for Ultrabooks that would work fine in one of these right?

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 16:00 1

5. haseebzahid (Posts: 1812; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


damn you want 3000$ surface ultimate or something

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 10:58

13. ekholbrook (Posts: 4; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


You're going to do...CAD.... on a 10 inch display? Sure, you can hook a big monitor, but then guess what? You now have a desktop computer.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 16:40

6. arqjav (Posts: 54; Member since: 29 Dec 2009)


No new cameras why??

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 17:35 11

7. sckortyman (Posts: 23; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)


Because taking a picture with a tablet is utterly stupid

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 22:02

10. Pancholo (Posts: 377; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)


Invest in a freaking camera-phone or a real camera. Anyway, you should stop taking pics of your peepee.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 18:37 1

8. Bopbeak (Posts: 3; Member since: 20 Sep 2013)


It's a matter of balance in the device. You must consider how things work out perfectly rather than putting such processors which will jeopardize the device's performance.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 19:25

9. papss (unregistered)


I am biting at the bit for this.. Why oh why do I love tech so much!!! I can't afford them all lol

posted on 24 Sep 2013, 03:14

11. mohammed2222 (Posts: 29; Member since: 07 Feb 2013)


me too !

posted on 25 Sep 2013, 11:05

14. ekholbrook (Posts: 4; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


biggest problem overall is still the price for what you get. $800 just to get the base pro model is just... well it's not worth it. It's clunky as a tablet, it's under powered for a good laptop.

Yes, if offers way way more possibilities than a consumption device like an ipad, but, it seems to me it's still like taking an all out pickup truck, chopping off the bed, lowering it, giving it sporty wheels, and ending up with... nothing you'd really want to drive because it's neither a truck nor a car nor a sportscar. Instead of a bit of the best of each, it ends up being the worst parts of each and just an expensive experiment.

Perfect example, I'll goto my son's soccer game on saturday and shoot more video footage and photos in two outings than the base pro model could fit on what''s left of it's drive.

And has anyone seen some of the drive requirements of games recently? 10, 15, gigs.

Yeah sure, like I said above, you can hook up the external stuff, drives, etc... but then you have... a desktop.

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