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Microsoft Surface Pro 2 Review

Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Posted: , by John V.



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.

In being that typical Windows machine, Windows 8.1 brings back the Start button to the desktop mode, something that seemed to knock people off using Windows 8 for the first time. However, even though it makes its appearance in the button left corner in desktop mode, it doesn't necessarily bring back the classic styling of Windows past. Instead, clicking it merely gets us back to the Start screen – much like pressing the capacitive Start button beneath the display, or pressing the start button on the Touch/Type 2 keyboards.

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.

Internet and Connectivity

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.

  • Options

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 06:21 11

1. StreetNerd (Posts: 836; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)

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

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 07:31 21

6. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

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

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 07:58 7

12. joaolx (Posts: 364; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

Because it doesn't have a stylus?

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 07:55 18

11. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 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?

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 08:01

13. joaolx (Posts: 364; Member since: 16 Aug 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.

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 11:16 7

23. YuLeven (Posts: 50; Member since: 14 May 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.

posted on 26 Oct 2013, 17:54 1

36. zdprince (Posts: 24; Member since: 10 May 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...?

posted on 29 Oct 2013, 23:54

42. Prabs (Posts: 21; Member since: 11 Feb 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...

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 06:38

2. bucky (Posts: 3132; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

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

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 06:50

3. 7thspaceman (Posts: 1583; Member since: 14 Feb 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.

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 07:08 3

4. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 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.

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 07:21 10

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?

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 07:42

8. eisenbricher (Posts: 973; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)

lol!! I'm not John V xD

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 07:51 2

9. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 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.

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 11:11 1

21. LordDavon (Posts: 139; Member since: 19 Sep 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.

posted on 03 Nov 2013, 15:24

46. 14545 (Posts: 1676; Member since: 22 Nov 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.

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 07:36

7. wgaurav (Posts: 22; Member since: 17 Dec 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.

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 08:24 1

15. jove39 (Posts: 1976; Member since: 18 Oct 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 now...as 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

posted on 03 Nov 2013, 15:26

47. 14545 (Posts: 1676; Member since: 22 Nov 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.

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 08:29

16. emadshiny (Posts: 1144; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)

Please review Vaio Tap11 as well.

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 10:10

17. pookiewood (Posts: 631; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)

So want!

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 10:21

18. valapsp (Posts: 562; Member since: 12 Aug 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.)

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 10:22 3

19. papss (unregistered)

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

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 10:40 8

20. muser793 (Posts: 59; Member since: 15 Aug 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 !

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 11:13 6

22. YuLeven (Posts: 50; Member since: 14 May 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!!

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 12:07 1

24. stealthd (unregistered)

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

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 20:41 2

32. Pancholo (Posts: 380; Member since: 27 Feb 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.

posted on 26 Oct 2013, 10:48 1

35. YuLeven (Posts: 50; Member since: 14 May 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.

posted on 29 Oct 2013, 18:54 1

41. TheUndernet (Posts: 15; Member since: 26 Sep 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.

posted on 25 Oct 2013, 12:58 3

25. Legnaldo (Posts: 63; Member since: 17 Oct 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.

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PhoneArena rating:
Display10.6 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels (208 ppi) IPS LCD
Dual-core, 1600 MHz, Intel Core i5 4200U processor
Size10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches
(275 x 173 x 13 mm)
31.99 oz  (907 g)

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