Microsoft Surface 2 specs review

Microsoft Surface 2 specs review
Windows RT hardware, and the Surface RT tablet in particular, isn't just selling poorly. Microsoft's often ignored slate was the reason behind a $900 million loss posted by the company last quarter, while some manufacturers abandoned their plans for future RT devices altogether. Yet here we are, a day after Microsoft's official event, and we have a new Surface tablet on our hands – the Microsoft Surface 2, powered by Windows 8.1 RT. It is in many ways better than last year's model, bringing the mandatory upgrades in the hardware department, such as a faster processor and a better screen. Will this be enough to make the Microsoft Surface 2 competitive, however?


Built quality was one of the assets associated with the first Surface RT tablets, and from the looks of it, the new model hasn't taken a step back in that respect. In fact, it sports the same magnesium "VaporMg" casing, treated with a fresh new silvery paint job. The kickstand is present as well on the Microsoft Surface 2 and can now snap at two angles – one optimized for placing the device on a table, and the other meant for those times when it is placed on the user's lap. 

The Microsoft Surface 2 tablet is thinner and lighter than the model released in 2012, but the difference is likely to go unnoticed. It weighs 675 grams and has a thickness of 8.9 millimeters, so it is only 5 grams lighter and 0.1mm thinner than the previous Surface RT. These figures rank it among the heavier 10-inch tablets out there.

Most ports and buttons on the Surface 2 are placed on its sides, save for the power key, which is located on top. On the tablet's right side we find a USB 3.0 port, supporting much higher data transfer rates than the USB 2.0 standard still widely used today.


Our thumbs-up goes to Microsoft for outfitting a high-res, 10.6-inch screen on the Surface 2. It has a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:9, which makes it ideal for any task from watching movies or playing games, to surfing the internet or browsing through your photo gallery. The company's ClearType tech has been implemented, meant to improve text legibility.

Interface and software

Microsoft's new Surface tablets come with an updated version of the company's operating system. In the case with the Surface 2, we have Windows RT 8.1 pre-installed, bringing along a number of improvements, both visual and under the hood. Personalization, multitasking, and cloud connectivity are among the key aspects that have been polished further. There is now a broader selection of built-in apps, and among them is the Microsoft Office 2013 RT pack, which includes Word, Excel, and Outlook 2013. Simply put, you get a potpourri of productivity essentials bundled with the Microsoft Surface 2. 

A neat perk for all who choose to get a Microsoft Surface 2 comes courtesy of Skype. Each Surface 2 user will get a full year of free international calls to over 60 countries worldwide (landlines only). In addition, access to public Wi-Fi hotspots by Skype is provided free of charge. 

All of that is great to hear, but we can't omit mentioning that the Microsoft Surface 2 can't run legacy Windows software like the Surface Pro tablets can. All in all, the Surface 2 is limited to the 100,000 or so Windows RT apps available from the Windows Marketplace. The figure isn't small, but the selection isn't as broad when compared to what Android and iOS have to offer. 

Processor and memory

Under the hood of the Microsoft Surface 2 we find an NVIDIA Tegra 4 (T40) SoC with a 1.7GHz quad-core CPU. 2 GB of RAM are thrown in as well for good measure. This should be enough processing power to deliver a smooth user experience, especially knowing that Microsoft makes sure its software is optimized for the hardware it is meant to run on. The Surface 2, however, might be outpaced by future Windows RT tablets by other companies, should the competition choose to go with a beefier silicon by Qualcomm.

The base Microsoft Surface 2 model comes with 32GB of storage, out of which some will be reserved for system files. Those who need extra space may pick the 64GB model, but will have to pay $100 extra. Thankfully, there's a microSD card slot on the Surface 2, allowing cards of up to 32GB to be added. And if that's not enough, 200GB of cloud space is provided courtesy of Microsoft's SkyDrive.

Camera and multimedia 

Now that's a nice surprise. Gone are the 0.9MP cams found on the previous Surface RT; instead, we have a 5MP cam on the back and a 3.5MP front-facing camera. Chances are these will take pictures of acceptable quality and will provide clearer video during online calls. Sound is delivered by a pair of built-in stereo speakers that have been "digitally enhanced for fuller sound".

Battery life

We're expecting battery life to be above average with the Microsoft Surface 2. It should be able to last through 10 hours of video playback, according to Microsoft. Stand-by time is quoted as 7 to 15 days. When the provided charger is used, the device's battery should go back to 100% in 2 to 4 hours.


So that's the new Microsoft Surface 2 tablet in a nutshell. It builds up on what people liked about its predecessor and brings improvements in areas that needed to or could be developed further. The mandatory hardware specs bump is also there, as the new model has a faster processor, better cameras, and of course, a better display. Software availability, however, is still a drawback for the Surface 2 and Windows RT tablets as a whole, even though the library of RT-made apps now hosts 100,000 titles. Still, with Microsoft Office RT 2013 pre-installed, the Surface 2 tablet could be a decent choice for those in need of a productivity device that can also play movies, music, and games every once in a while. With a base price of $449, the Microsoft Surface 2 is positioned as an alternative to the iPad and the premium Android tablets. We'll see how it fares against the tough competition once it is on the market next month.

Related phones

Surface 2
  • Display 10.6" 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP / 3.5 MP front
  • Processor NVIDIA Tegra 4, Quad-core, 1700 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB



1. alaahershy

Posts: 34; Member since: Jan 02, 2013

at least it's white


Posts: 4851; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

This will be a "Fail"™ again, like all there products! Except it's MS products software! ®

10. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

So the Xbox and Xbox 360 were fail? Get your facts straight.

20. james004

Posts: 486; Member since: May 15, 2013

Get him! lol this troll needs to be cut away from internet. that would be worst to him than getting his d*ck cut off.

11. jove39

Posts: 2148; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

If MS drop price by $100, they can move lot of units, I'll buy one for sure :) I won't spend $449 on second tablet when I already have Nexus7.

21. cc3493

Posts: 158; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

All *their products? I dont think so: word, excel, powerpoint, onenote + all other office apps, xbox, xbox 360, windows xp, windows 2000, windows 7, internet explorer (used by more than 50%), hotmail/live (SUPER DUPER SUCCESSFUL), messenger, skype +MUCH MUCH MORE, they were all very successful products. Idm if you dislike or hate microsoft but lying never really helps, does it?

4. ballaonnabudget

Posts: 38; Member since: May 15, 2013

*More like a Silver - Mg's natural color.

3. djcody

Posts: 230; Member since: Apr 17, 2013

About year from now they do anothe write down $$$ :) lesson learn xD. If that a full win8 I may look for one, other ways No thank you

5. ballaonnabudget

Posts: 38; Member since: May 15, 2013

Its called a surface pro. Or go buy a cheap Asus.

18. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Surface pro price and competitions are the ultra portables, many are now a tablet with notebook dock combo, full version of Windows 8,1 pro. If i am Lenovo, Asus i will think twice about making successfully ultra portables as the competition comes from my principle Microsoft.

6. papss unregistered

Yes if you WA t a full PC buy pro otherwise stop complaining about this tablet..

7. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1249; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

This upgrade won't help sales. Specs were not the issue.

13. deathgod

Posts: 122; Member since: Nov 23, 2011

Exactly. The issue was RT. As the sale figures show, hardly anybody wants to buy a watered down version of windows 8/8.1 at its current price. They just should just quit with windows RT as it's just confusing to the everyday person that has windows 8 on their PC/laptop, and buy RT expecting to run the same apps.

19. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1249; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

I know all about RT and even i can explain it to non techies. Poor MS.

8. joe1blue

Posts: 169; Member since: Jul 25, 2013

in my opinion this is the best product on the market I don't care what anybody else says.

9. DFranch

Posts: 557; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

The iPad doesn't run MAC programs, yet nobody seems to have a problem with that. When the iPad came out, it didn't have many apps either. Why do people want to hate on the surface so much? It comes with Word, Excel & Outlook, for a reasonable price. I'm no fan of the modern UI on the desktop, but it is actually made for a tablet.

12. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

Because it's the cool thing to hate on MS products. I have the Surface RT and it works just fine for me. My next tablet will probably be the Pro 2 or maybe a comparable Asus model if they get one out there, but there is nothing wrong with the RT models.

14. deathgod

Posts: 122; Member since: Nov 23, 2011

When the iPad came out there was nothing like it at the time and hence no competition. Now we have all types of Android tablets, ipads, ipad mini's etc. that already does everything as the surface RT.

15. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

You're right. When the iPad came out, all we had were Windows XP tablets... and they weren't selling.

16. luxzy801

Posts: 140; Member since: Jun 16, 2010

That was good bro, you took the words right out of my mouth LOL. Good ol' iFans, they think that everything was invented by Apple, glad to know others know about technological history...

17. no-reply

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 24, 2013

Not an 'iFan' but just have to argue that you should admit Apple did some very interesting shifts in market trends by releasing the iPhone, iPad, Air, and such. They do bring innovation to the masses and move the market towards new directions. At least, they used to be with former CEO. That being said, I'm looking into buying a slick tablet, and was tempted by the Surface 2 Pro, but is the price really justifiable? Specially considering how bulky (by weight) it is... 2lbs, huh? I guess forget using it with one hand. My 2 cents.

28. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

It is definitely justified. The Surface Pro isn't just a tablet. It is a tablet and a laptop rolled into one, provided you get the keyboard (which you definitely will). It can do a hell of alot more than your typical iPad/Android/Windows RT tablet, and has access to a seemingly infinite amount of available software. You could go cheaper and get an Atom based Windows 8 tablet, but Atom processors are s*** and you may be disappointed. I, personally, wouldn't get any Windows 8 tablet that isn't running at least an i5.

25. Edmund

Posts: 656; Member since: Jul 13, 2012

chromebooks don't have ANY app's but you'll never see tech sites bashing the OS.

22. taikucing unregistered

needs more apps

23. joe1blue

Posts: 169; Member since: Jul 25, 2013

Yea but to be honest I'm not bothered by the lack of apps. I have an android phone with many apps and I feel fine with What's available At the moment

24. Edmund

Posts: 656; Member since: Jul 13, 2012

How are chromebook sales going? More importantly, what's the app' count in the chrome store - 100, 500 ?? Since PA love to include their mandatory serving of Windows RT hate, it would be interesting to know how many chromebooks where sold in the last quarter (excluding the ones given away to schools and other not-for-profit organizations).

26. 7thspaceman

Posts: 1597; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

too many dummies out there do not get it. the reason MS created the Surface RT OS was so it could have a ARMS CPU Controlled tablet because ARMS CPU's rule the mobile world. The Problem Microsoft has is that 99 percent of it's programs are set up to run only on Intel/AMD X86 CPU's therefore Microsoft has to start from scratch to get windows programs on ARMS CPU will take years to recompile x86 CPU programs that run on Windows 7, Vista, Windows XP and Windows 98, to run on ARM CPU controlled devices. some people say Microsoft should skip ARMS CPU's altogether and use ATOM CPU's for Windows 8 low power tablets. That sounds alright but most people who have tested Windows Atom based Tablets will tell you right up front that the ATOM CPU's just do not have the processing Power to run the high level Computer aided design programs or the HD high level Video games that are on the market and they cannot do a lot of multitasking work, that's why Microsoft surface computer use Intel i5 CPU's from the jump street but reall A surface Pro should use the more powerful intel i7 CPU's because with the i7haswell CPU there is no X86 program they cannot run but an Intel i5 can stumble on some high level Windows programs. I hope this info educates people a little..

27. 7thspaceman

Posts: 1597; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

the Surface 2 Windows on arms cpu tablet I think is the best bank for the buck ARMs CPU tablet on the market for Business people and Students who have to send printed work to their professors and also for the average person. with it's USB 3 port you can hook it uo to thousands of external gear. It is new however and needs more apps to be of interest to a lot of people. They will be around awhile because Microsoft will not give up making a windows on arms tablets even if they only sell less of them than anyone else does

29. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

What it really needs is VPN support and they need to release an API that allows devs to create "desktop" apps for Windows RT. Windows RT's biggest flaw is that any apps developed for it have to be metro apps. There is a desktop, but it is only used for MS Office, IE, and file management. If they allowed for desktop support, more developers would start recompiling their own software for our use on Windows RT. Imagine the possibilities...

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