Microsoft Surface 2 Review
Surface, the first commercial tablet to run Windows RT – an operating system designed to compete with Android tablets and the iPad. Sales figures didn’t quite pan out for this first-generation model, but seeing that Microsoft is one of those companies sitting on a pile of disposable cash, they’re quickly moving forward with its successor. Armed with some significant upgrades, this year’s Microsoft Surface 2 is hoping to be a more well-rounded offering in the hopes that it can tangle with the greats in the space.Note that what we're dealing with here is the $450 Surface 2, which runs Windows RT (meaning there's no support for legacy Windows software), while the similarly named Surface Pro 2 (starts at $899) has desktop-class hardware and runs full-blown Windows 8 Pro.
The package contains:
- Wall Charger
- Documentation information
There’s nothing to this one, as the Surface 2 largely remains the same as the first generation. Quite a distinctive looking thing, it has a prevalent modern edge with its design – thanks in part to the angled cutouts around its edges. Admittedly though, those angled cutouts make it feel rather sharp when it’s held in the hand. On paper, it’s bit thinner and lighter (0.35” profile & 676 gr) than its predecessor, but it’s barely noticeable holding and seeing it.
This time around, it’s available in an additional silver color, which is a nice departure from the sole black slate offering. Oh yeah, its chassis is also constructed from the same magnesium “VaporMg” material, which so happens to give it a solid build quality.
Taking a look around the Surface 2, it features the same ports and buttons from before – like its distinctive power button, dual speakers, 3.5mm headset jack, volume control, USB 3.0 port, magnetic power connection port, microHDMI out port, and a magnetic connection port that allows us to attach the optional Touch and Type 2 covers.
Call it a kind gesture, but Microsoft is nice enough to upgrade the cameras on this, as it now features a higher count 5-megapixel rear camera, and a front-facing 3.5-megapixel one.
A rarity amongst tablets, the Surface 2 once again packs along a kickstand, but this new model has an additional wider angle that allows us to better use it in our lap. There’s also a microSD card slot in the underside of the tablet that’s accessible only when the kickstand is lifted.
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One of the most disappointing things with the original Surface was its low resolution display, which was significantly under matched when compared to the higher-res panels employed by its rivals at the time of its release. Fortunately, Microsoft remedied the issue this time, seeing that the Surface 2 is packing along a 10.6-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS LCD panel, giving it a higher pixel density count of 208 ppi. All told, it’s significantly more detailed and sharper than its predecessor!
Other aspects of the display also shine, since it features wide viewing angles, punchy colors, and handles outdoor usage quite well. Overall, we’re extremely glad that Microsoft has given the Surface 2 something more rewarding!
1. HASHTAG (Posts: 383; Member since: 26 Mar 2013)
No auto-focus w/ camera? I'm sure a lot of people would be upset about that. :p
2. jove39 (Posts: 1124; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)
If surface 2 was built with real windows & atom cpu...MS had real chance to make some money from it...atom 3770 is good enough to handle full windows...remember Dell venue pro!
Well...MS can't abandon winRT now...they have too much invested in it...their only logical step forward is to merge winP and winRT at some point.
7. Shatter (Posts: 1628; Member since: 29 May 2013)
The new Baytrail-T atoms kill the old ones, the integrated gpu is good enough to play old pc game and pretty much every not intensive one + most emulators (PC emulators are far more advanced than android one, the n64 one is near perfect)
15. pookiewood (Posts: 350; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)
Please stop comparing WinRt with Real Windows (your desktop and the Atom 3770 you mentioned). Win RT serves to compete agains iOS and Android. It's supposed to be light weight fanless and app centric. It's what I want! I already have a laptop and a desktop with "Real Windows".
5. fsnas (Posts: 81; Member since: 18 Jun 2012)
I find Windows RT is much better than other tablets' OSs.
so next time, write (IMO) before "ewwww"
8. Shatter (Posts: 1628; Member since: 29 May 2013)
It doesn't even cost any more $... I see no reason to buy an RT tablet over a $400-$500 Baytrail-T with a solid state drive, 2-4gb ddr3 ram, 64bit x86 cpu that can run virtually any windows application, much better gpu too, I think its like 6-7x more powerful than the original atom they used with the crappy power vr. Now its based of ivy bridge desktop integrated.
Some stuff I have seen it run: Leauge of Legends, civilization 4 (5 has some lag but it is playable) and minecraft.
10. YuLeven (Posts: 43; Member since: 14 May 2013)
I see some point in your comment, but benchmarks shows that Baytrail's GPU isn't as powerful as you say. Anandtechs's benchmarks delivered performance on par with Apple's A6X. In the best scenarios for Intel it came only close to Tegra 4's or Snapdragon 800's GPU, in other cases it lost by a 50% margin.
It's based on the Ivy Bridge architecture, indeed, but it has only 4 EUs, the performance is far from stellar.
That being said, as I really don't care about tablet gaming, I would love to see a Lumia 2520/Surface 2 like tablet running Atom Z3770.
13. Shatter (Posts: 1628; Member since: 29 May 2013)
In most test its between adreno 320 and 330. Except this.
It wrecks them on harder to run stuff somehow. Guess poor optimization for low stuff.
14. YuLeven (Posts: 43; Member since: 14 May 2013)
This is just part of the 3DMark benchmark. It does not say much, as you can see it wrecking the HD8330, a card that beats it on every single other test by a large margin.
Looking sharply at other tests, exactly as I said it's on par with Apple A6X's PowerVR card, which is itself positioned between Adreno 320 and Adreno 330 in most cases. It falls short to Tegra 4 and Snapdragon 800's Adreno 330.
This is not a bad result by any means, it just not as you said on your original post. BayTrail Intel HD graphics isn't a ''much better GPU" compared to Surface 2's Tegra 4 or Lumia 2520's Adreno 330, its slower.
17. pookiewood (Posts: 350; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)
You don't need to. The point of RT is to compete with iOS and Android. They need to keep it around.
4. fsnas (Posts: 81; Member since: 18 Jun 2012)
if it only supports SIM (LTE)!!
that's why i'm turning to Nokia Lumia 2520!
9. YuLeven (Posts: 43; Member since: 14 May 2013)
With Windows RT I can open the Pandora site and have the music playing in the background, while I have two other apps running at the same time. No premium ($$) app required for that. The same goes for Youtube. Or basicly any other site, in the very same way you would do on a desktop computer.
I can actually keep watching my movies and still reply that perky mail that arrived, no need for closing it all. I can work on my papers on Office and quickly popup Internet Explorer for a quick glance at the dictionary.
Having apps is good, but by no means my experience in Windows RT is cramped by the lack of them. In fact, it feels better them OS's with tons of apps for asian breasts and stuff.
Ecosystem does not means only having a big number of 'tablet optimized apps'. Ecosystem stands for the whole, the basic system, it's programs, it's hardware capabilities, it support for other platforms and environments. On a Surface 2 I can hook pretty much every piece of hardware I have in my house to the USB port and it will work. My printer and external HD are quite pleased by that.
It also feels quite snappy. On the Modern UI instance it feels pretty much as fast as my Core i5 latptop with an ordinary 5400RPM HD.
I quite like Windows RT, people really should give it a chance before screaming 'apps' and running away. It does media consumption in a overally good way, it does productivity better than other systems.
16. pookiewood (Posts: 350; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)
I agree! The App argument is so stupid when it comes to Windows. There are some many ways to approach things on Windows, including RT.
18. bigwavesurfer4 (Posts: 10; Member since: 13 Jun 2011)
I also agree. The problem with the Surface 2 isn't the real competition (android, ios)...it's the Surface Pro 2. What matters is the direct competition being IOS and Android. A good friend of mine with her iPad summed it up quite well. She said...I don't know what to do with it... all I do is play games on it.... that's great.... but I have an android phone for that...I bought this tablet for Microsoft word, to stream flash videos like the Colbert Report etch etc... and in that regard this works like a charm... the thing I was most happy with is the app selection (I know I know give me a chance)... the UI is impeccable and it has apps in every category. Do I miss Candy Crush? Yes, but again that's why I have my phone. Everything from the news apps, the economist, cooking apps, they all look and run incredibly. I snapped a photo the other day.... turned out pretty rotten... then I slapped myself and said why the hell are you taking phone on a tablet dummy. So for this review... ok... give it an 8...but I bet secretly John V won't ever want to go back to another tablet again if it means him actually getting something done on it. Just JMO. :-P
11. fuzzkage (Posts: 16; Member since: 29 Dec 2012)
I love the design but why get a tablet period lol when the new baytrails tablets will cost less but do more
12. smartphonelover (Posts: 36; Member since: 26 Nov 2009)
Why are they still talking about Android still not having that many tablet optimized apps? Do they really still not have that many? I'm asking the commentators not phonearena since phonearena makes some ridiculous claims at times. When I had a tablet most of the apps looked fantastic on it, and that was when the Asus Transformer TF201 came out. Plus now we have phones with the same resolution as a lot of tablets, so I imagine there's even more apps that look good on the general android tablet since the apps are being optimized for 1080p screens. Either way the Microsoft Surface 2 doesn't seem worth the money for the OS that you're getting. I'd much rather go with the Asus T100 with it being full windows 8.1 and being able to fold out like a netbook, plus it's cheaper.
19. DFranch (Posts: 103; Member since: 20 Apr 2012)
The review doesn't even mention that it comes with office apps for free. That should add +1 right there.
20. EclipseGSX (Posts: 1320; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)
Just got mine, and i'm in love. You gotta go with the Pro version for sure :)
21. haikallp (Posts: 67; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)
Own the original Surface and so far, I like it. The things I hate about it is the occasional sluggishness when multitasking, the low resolution display(although the color is punchy) and the fact that the kickstand angle is quite steep. Seems that Microsoft listened to feedbacks and the Surface 2 tackles all my issues. Wished it was lighter though. I love the look of the Nokia Lumia 2520 but the lack of kickstand bothers me. Once you have a tablet with a built-in kickstand, you do not one to go back to a tablet that does not have one. Can't even count how many times I've used my Surface with the kickstand.