Microsoft Surface Pro 2 Review


Generally speaking, the product cycle of a particular device is normally one year, giving it enough time to permeate the market, and by that time, we're then greeted with a successor of some kind. Well folks, sometimes a company just can't wait. Whether it’s related to poor sales, or simply be a reaction to impending competition, Microsoft is in that exact position of launching a successive product in less than a year after its predecessor.

In less than 9 short months, the Microsoft's Surface Pro Windows 8 tablet is already being brushed aside by its successor in the Microsoft Surface Pro 2. We're getting the hint that the Redmond based company wants to have something special in time for the upcoming busy holiday season. Looking back at it, the Surface Pro was a great first offering, since it showed us how versatile it is over some of the competition – namely the iPad and horde of top-notch Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and Google Nexus 10.

Armed with the usual set of hardware upgrades and an updated Windows 8.1 experience, the Surface Pro 2 is hoping to show consumers that it's been fine-tuned enough to make it a justified choice over some of its biggest rivals – and that's despite it being priced higher than some of the big sellers in the industry. Note that what we're looking at here is the Surface Pro 2, which runs full-blown Windows 8 Pro and has access to all the legacy Windows software, unlike the Windows 8 RT-running Surface 2.

The package contains:

  • Wall charger
  • Pressure sensitive stylus
  • Documentation


After a good year of checking out various Windows 8 tablets, where some of them impressed us by their slimmer profiles than the original Surface Pro, we were hoping to see a slimmer Surface Pro 2, but instead, it's sporting the same chassis – so its overall size and weight remains unchanged. A bummer no doubt considering all things, even more knowing how much technology advances in such a short period of time. In the tablet world, this is undoubtedly a hefty thing to carry around, but in the PC world, it’s widely viewed as compact. Regardless, knowing what it's packing inside of its body, we can't be too critical.

Just like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 2 employs the same distinctive design – one that's most notable for its angular cuts around its edges. Also, the choice of materials is also the same, which is a magnesium composite casing common referred to as "VaporMg." It clearly has a finish similar to brushed aluminum, which gives it some added strength and sturdiness with its construction, but it would've been nice to see additional color options – as opposed to the same dark black finish.

Due to the angular cuts around the sides, the Surface Pro 2 continues to feel a bit sharp when holding it. Naturally, two-handed operation is most optimal with this, since it's packing quite a heft for just a single hand to handle. Although the design is unchanged, it's still one good looking tablet that has a modern touch, feel, and appearance. Still, we would've loved to see its size trimmed a bit more to make it a more appealing thing.

Seeing that we're dealing with the same design here, all the same ports and buttons are found littered throughout its body. Beneath the display, there's the capacitive Start button that brings us back to the Start screen at a moment's notice.

Meanwhile, around its trim, we have its USB 3.0 port, volume control, 3.5mm headset jack, microphone, power button, microSD card slot, magnetic power connector, mini Display port for video out, and a magnetic port that enables us to attach it to the optional Touch Cover 2 and Type Cover 2 keyboards. Microsoft mentions that it has improved connection for the magnetic power connector, which allows us to charge the tablet, but we still find it a little finicky at times. Essentially, we're still finding ourselves adjust it so that it snaps it into place snuggly.

No doubt a rarity amongst tablets, the Surface Pro 2 once again packs along an ever so useful kickstand. One of our complaints last year was that the kickstand only offered a single angled view, but this time around, they’ve been kind enough to give us another. Before, the angle of the kickstand made the tablet usable when it's placed on a table – making it nearly impossible to use with the touch or type keyboards while on our lap. This time, though, there's a second wider angle that allows us to better use it on our laps. And best of all, it locks into place and feels sturdy, so it doesn't move as we're using the tablet with any of the keyboards.

When it comes to cameras, we're bummed to know that Microsoft decided to not outfit this one with any updated gear. Rather, they're the same lackluster spec'd cameras from before – 720p front and rear cameras. And just like before, there are LED lights nearby that power on to indicate that they're being used.


Making its second appearance, the Surface Pro 2 relies on the same display as before, a 10.6-inch 1920 x 1080 (1080p) IPS LCD display that obviously outclasses any of the displays found on Windows 8 tablets running Intel Atom processors. Even though it's something that most people might overlook, the display is optically bonded, which results in less glare. Throw in Microsoft's own hone brewed ClearType rendering technology as well, it's able to deliver great details to even the finest of text – so there's plenty of sharpness and clarity to it.

Color reproduction with the display is vivid and warm, and knowing that it has some great viewing angles, we see very little distortion at extreme angles. In fact, we're able to easily see mostly everything on-screen outside where the sun is present, which is due to the ambient light sensor cranking up its brightness and contrast to better adapt to the situation.

Indeed, there are no significant upgrades to the display, but regardless of that, it still proves to be a pleasant thing to find on a high spec'd tablet in this particular range. Sure, we would've loved to see its resolution bumped up even more, but heck, 1080p is still mighty detailed with a 10.6-inch screen.

Pressure Sensitive Stylus

Adding depth to its functionality, the Surface Pro 2 packs along the same pressure sensitive stylus as before, dubbed this time as the active stylus Surface Pen. Unfortunately, it's still something that can be easily lost or misplaced, seeing that it requires being attached to the magnetic power connector when it's not being used – instead of being discretely being tucked away somewhere inside of the Surface Pro 2's body. Nevertheless, it's an optional way of interacting with the tablet, as it can be used for jotting down notes, or simply be used to draw something. And of course, thanks to its ability to finely measure various degrees of pressure sensitivity, it can produce very fine strokes as we use it. It's not something we'd use on occasion, but nevertheless, it's nice to have as an addition – albeit, we wish it were smaller in size and somehow tucked away discretely when it’s not being used.

Touch Cover 2

Like we mentioned, the introduction of the Surface Pro 2 is also greeted with the updated $120 Touch Cover 2 keyboard. In addition to being available in a wide array of bright colors, it's actually one-third thinner than last year's model – barely giving the tablet any unwanted thickness. As always, there's a steep learning curve with it, since the experience is similar to using the on-screen keyboard, but the fabric material it's constructed from offers more rigidity between each key. It works and the fabric material is very easy on the Surface Pro 2's display – though, we still wish it would have a magnetic connection so it stays in place when it's folder over.

Type Cover 2

If you're more akin to using a traditional keyboard, you'll no doubt appreciate the $130 Type Keyboard 2, which like its sibling, packs on some new features – while still slimming down its profile as well. Needless to say, if you prefer tactility, this is the keyboard to select, since it closely replicates the typical typing experience. Better yet, it now features a very subtle backlighting, allowing us to continue using it in the dark with no issues. However, there doesn't seem to be a way to manually turn it off.



1. StreetNerd

Posts: 870; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

'Stylus can easily be misplaced/lost' -_-"

6. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

The iPad doesn't have a stylus slot either. I wonder why that's not a con on the iPad reviews...

12. joaolx

Posts: 364; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Because it doesn't have a stylus?

11. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Also, if "stylus can easily be misplaced/lost" is a con, surely the "INCLUSION OF THE FREAKING STYLUS IN THE FIRST PLACE" should be considered a pro... If the tablet came with an ice-cream machine, would you not list it as a pro, but then list as a con "ice-cream can easily be dropped on the floor"? Why would losing/misplacing something that isn't a pro be a con?

13. joaolx

Posts: 364; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Even if it has a stylus doesn't mean it should be a pro. What if it's not that good. And what if a tablet comes with a horrible stylus. Pro-Comes with a stylus. Con-But it sucks and you'll never use it. I'm not saying this is the case but just because it has something doesn't mean it works well or that it should be pro because of it.

23. YuLeven

Posts: 50; Member since: May 14, 2013

It's no commonner stylus, it's a Wacom Digitizer. You can't get much better than that on a tablet. I bloody love the Wacom's on my Galaxy Note III. It's brilliant, it severely outclasses my sausage fingers.

36. zdprince

Posts: 24; Member since: May 10, 2013

I agree with your point because on the review of Lumia 1520, one of the cons was a fact that there wasn't a stylus so why can't it be a pro here...?

42. Prabs

Posts: 22; Member since: Feb 11, 2012

Very similar to when phonearena also cons a phone for not being released with the latest version of Android. Do they delete the con after the phone gets the update? No. Do they redo the review when the phone gets the update? No. There is no such thing as an objective phone review...

2. bucky

Posts: 3795; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Good score. I think if it was $200 or so cheaper it would be a lot better.

3. 7thspaceman

Posts: 1597; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Microsoft is sure to make the Surface Pro 3 thinner than this Tablet/Laptop hybrid. it's cost is high but folks the Surface pro 2 is an Ultra book in the shape of a tablet. Most Ultra books with the specs of a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 cost about the same as a Surface Pro 2. Windows 8 and the Intel haswell i5 chip and the new Type cover with the built battery that is coming in early 2014 will make the Surface pro 2 a very formidable portable Tablet/laptop device. Personally I think it should be classed as a Tablet/Portable Computer hybrid because most people rather use on a desk or a table with ether of it's Combo Cover/Keyboards.

4. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

From usability for productive use (not just watchin video and playing games which i dont have time for) I find Surface Pro to be best in the "Tab" class far better than all those *pads and android tablets. Only if MS could start looking at NON-APPLE like Margins, this could be an instant hit.

5. HASHTAG unregistered

I don't see how this is pricey, as this tablet is in a different category. Bad camera? Eh, I don't care as I'm not John V. who uses his iPad to take pictures. "Stylus can easily be misplaced/lost." Well isn't that a asinine con?

8. eisenbricher

Posts: 973; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

lol!! I'm not John V xD

9. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

It's not pricey at all. It's on par both price and spec wise with most ultrabooks, and it outclasses them in portability.

21. LordDavon

Posts: 179; Member since: Sep 19, 2011

I have a Surface Pro 128GB (original), and it is most definitely a valid con. On the first Surface Pro, the pen is held in the charging port by magnets; a slight nudge knocks it off. The stylus is a great tool at times, but it is easily found on the ground behind me as I walk away. I no longer keep the stylus attached to the unit, and just put it in my pocket. I would really have loved this fixed in the second version, but it seems Microsoft doesn't "get it". It should lock in the unit somewhere, and not just sit there as easy prey to slight acts that dislocate it.

46. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

A con in relation to the tablet itself. But a pro compared to all other tabs on the market. I think that is everyones point. The Note series is the only other series not on W8 that has a pen. That should help put it over most other tabs.

7. wgaurav

Posts: 22; Member since: Dec 17, 2010

I line my Pro, worst con I think for pro is the power connector, it takes efforts to just fit it in, very bad design.

15. jove39

Posts: 2148; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

1. "Hefty size and weight for a tablet" Surface Pro is heavy when compared to tablets...but its light when compared to ultrbooks...and surely it attempts to bridge gap between two...and people should stop criticizing it's weight problem it's more due to core processors that need hefty motherboard and active cooling with fan. remaining 3 cons are just to make total of 4 Pricey cost Cameras are not good Stylus can easily be misplaced/lost

47. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Styli are cheap, even for the wacom replacements. I have two for my note 10.1. So that should not be an actual con.

16. emadshiny

Posts: 1144; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

Please review Vaio Tap11 as well.

17. pookiewood

Posts: 631; Member since: Mar 05, 2012

So want!

18. valapsp

Posts: 565; Member since: Aug 12, 2011

I still can't decide between the 4GB and the 8GB version. Opening 12 tabs in Chrome hogs 1.8Gb of RAM on my PC and there is another thing called future proofing but you know that $300 difference is definitely not worth it. (128GB SSD is more than enough for me since it has a micro sd slot too.)

19. papss unregistered

This site is something else lol... I may trade my pro in for this new one. Love the updated processor

20. muser793

Posts: 60; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

so you're telling me Surface Pro 2 is worse than Ipad 4 n Ipad mini ?! nice joke PA ;) even surface pro 1 is 10times better than other tablets ! it's a damn full PC with millions of programs not a device for -12 kid who loves 2 play angry birds on big screen !

22. YuLeven

Posts: 50; Member since: May 14, 2013

But, but, but... APPS!!! And... PREMIUM UNIBODY DESIGN!!! And, uh, well... BEZELS!!! Uhm, let me see... retina display? Oh, it's nor working. Let me think, let me think. Yes! Yes! The iPad is clearly better!! I know why! You can... ehm, you can... you have... well... YOU CAN'T LOSE YOUR STYLUS WITH AN IPAD MINI! THAT IS IT!!

24. stealthd unregistered

Not having to use the awful mess Windows 8 is a pretty huge benefit.

32. Pancholo

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

Too bad you will forever be perceived as closed-minded by such statements. Everybody else and their mothers will enjoy Windows 8+ while you will probably praise some watered-down OS. Cool story, bro.

35. YuLeven

Posts: 50; Member since: May 14, 2013

I can still hear all the rage of people pleading to never leave Windows XP. Sadly, it's just on my mind now. Boy, those people should stop behaving like an old farmer granpa screaming at those people of the cities and they flying machines. And I need to stop hearing voices or else I will be locked on a sanatorium.

41. TheUndernet

Posts: 15; Member since: Sep 26, 2013

BUAHAHAHAHA ... i cant tell if you're being serious....but really an (ANY)Ipad dont even come close to a Surface pro 2, be real. dont come with the user experience BS/not enough apps/retina display (which you probably dont know what it is) pls ...Jobs is dead already... Listen, Im a tech enthusiast and a gamer....I wanna be able to run steam on a lagless tablet with full HD graphics....YOU'VE GOT TO GIVE CREDIT WHERE IS DUE. MICROSOFT OUTDID APPLE AND SEVERAL OTHERS ON THIS ONE. sorry but the Ipad is destined to the technologically challanged users. Apple just keeps making money off the dumb, blissful consumers who buy into fashionable tech accessories. End of the day, its your choice.

25. Legnaldo

Posts: 63; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Its a computer, not a tablet. Therefore your pricing argument is pointless. Its uses computer hardware and software (i5 and Win8Pro); not tablet hardware and software (Arm processor and WinRT). If it runs like a computer, has all the same abilities of a computer, and is sold at computer comparable pricing for hardware vs size then review it as a computer; not a tablet. For a computer its pricing isn't that bad for what it offers. If you get a hybrid split device or ultra thin ultra book with the same specs you would still be better off with the surface pro 2 because of the ridiculously thin keyboard/mouse magnetic cover and the touchscreen that is using what is effectively a Wacom like experience with the stylus. Im just asking you to review as it is not what you think it is because of how it looks. What is defined as a computer these days is becoming blurry because you have so many options. Like towers, all-in-ones, portable all-in-ones, laptops, netbooks, ultra books, convertibles, splits and "tablets" that all offer effectively the same capabilities and experience. Just ask yourself two questions if your unsure how to class it. What processor is it running, and what OS is it running, and that should be enough to tell you if it truly is a computer or not. Sorry for the rant guys. Just had to make a point.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Surface Pro 2
  • Display 10.6" 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Processor Intel Core i5, Dual-core, 1600 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB

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