Microsoft Surface Pro 2 ReviewMicrosoft Surface Pro 2 8.5
Interface and Functionality
With the launch of the Surface Pro 2, Microsoft fittingly gives us the most up-to-date Windows 8.1 experience, which sees a fair amount of upgrades to further sharpen the edges of its functionality in the desktop space. Microsoft heard the complaints, and for the most part, they've been addressed – so we're humbled to say the least. Visually, you wouldn't realize it as much, but the Start screen has its own updates too. On the surface, it's still flashy thanks to all the dynamic live tiles occupying the space, which aggregate content based on what they are. However, there's a little bit more control given to the user when it comes to personalization, seeing that we can now select up to four different tile sizes for better organization across the Start screen – though, the amount of options can vary depending on the app.
Being a desktop platform and all, we already know about Windows 8.1's fantastic multi-tasking, which is handled in a variety of ways. On top of the usual methods, like pressing Alt-Tab or swiping right from the left side of the screen to scroll through the available apps, Windows 8.1 brings forth improved snapping between apps. Whereas we were limited to set snapping guides in Windows 8, Windows 8.1 allows for manual adjustment between two apps being displayed simultaneously – therefore, we can have two apps taking up the same amount of real estate on the screen. Or instead, we can size one of them to our liking to give more precedence to it than the other.
Searching is also improved with Windows 8.1, as accessing it from the right pane (the swipe left gesture from the right side of the display) populates a variety of results. Once an item is selected, it launches the new Bing Search app, which employs a very Modern inspired presentation – where web search results, local content, images, and all other information pertaining to the search are displayed in a very dynamic manner.
All told, power users will surely appreciate what Windows 8.1 has to offer. Frankly, we're pleased with all the new features that the updated software experience has to offer – and it goes to show that it's a true desktop platform. In essence, it offers a considerable amount of versatility over other competing tablet platforms out there. And at the very least, it mimics the styling and operation of Windows past.
We had no complaints with the on-screen keyboard of the Surface Pro, so we really don't have any qualms as well with the one here with the Surface Pro 2 and its updated Windows 8.1 experience. Naturally, if you're going to rely on the on-screen options, your best bet is going to be the landscape option, seeing that our rate of input is fairly consistent thanks to its responsiveness – and without many mistakes along the way either. With the portrait option, there's some juggling around needed to encompass the entire layout. And as alternative, we also have a split style keyboard option or the hand writing recognition.
Yet again, the Windows 8.1 email app proves to be just a usable, especially when its layout is ideal for a tablet. Furthermore, it's nice that we can quickly view emails from other accounts from within the app, since the left pane gives us an overview of all our accounts.
In addition to the People and Calendar Hubs that we're already familiar with the platform, Windows 8.1 finally brings along some of the other basic organizer apps we'd expect to find on any device. Specifically, they include native Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, Calculator, Alarm, and Sound Recorder apps. Yes, they're small things, but considering that most of them were unavailable out of the box with the original Surface Pro, we appreciate that they're in tow from the start with this.
Processor and Memory
If power and performance is utmost important to you, then you won’t be disappointed by the Surface Pro 2, which features the latest generation of silicon from Intel. To be exact, with our specific review unit, it features a dual-core 4th generation Intel Core i5 4200U processor clocked in at 1.6GHz – coupled by 4GB of dual-channel LPDDR3 RAM, the Intel HD Graphics 4400 GPU, and speedy 128GB solid state drive. Quite simply, it translates to one speed demon that’s ample enough to handle both trivial and intensive tasks. Heck. it can even handle some wicked 3D games without much stutter to its performance.
Depending on your needs, the Surface Pro 2 is available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage options. With the 64GB and 128GB models, they're packing 4GB of RAM – while the other two larger options have double the amount at 8GB! In terms of pricing, though, they retail for $900, $1000, $1,300, and $1,800 respectively. Oh yeah, we're still glad to know it's packing a microSD card slot.
With the latest version of Internet Explorer 11, we're again presented with two options – a touch friendly one and the typical desktop one. Both of them are naturally equipped in handling all our web browsing needs, since they're super-fast with page loads, offer instant page rendering, and have buttery smooth navigational controls. When all is said and done, it's the real deal that we're given here on the Surface Pro 2 – more so knowing it IS the desktop experience.
We never saw cellular data connected Surface Pros, so it doesn't surprise us that we're not getting it here with the Surface Pro 2. In terms of connectivity, it features aGPS, Low Energy Bluetooth 4.0, and dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi. Sorry folks, there's no NFC with this one.
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 Review - Interface and Functionality