Final Words

Surface Pro 2 is a good improvement over its predecessor. The platform is quicker, quieter and boasts longer battery life as well. The new kickstand is awesome, as are the new touch/type covers, and the new display is a big step in the right direction. If you were tempted by the original Surface Pro, its successor is a solid evolution and that much more tempting.

I really like using Surface Pro 2 and Windows 8.1 in general as a productivity focused tablet OS. The screenshot below really helps illustrate what I would love to do on most tablets, but what I can only do (well) on a Surface:

Writing an article on the left, touch enabled web browsing on the right. Switching between both applications is seamless, and I’m just as fast (if not faster) from a productivity standpoint on Surface Pro 2 than on a traditional notebook/desktop – at least for this usage model. There’s really something very compelling about having the best of both worlds in one system. I literally can’t do this well on any other tablet, and ultimately that’s what Microsoft was trying to achieve with Surface. You can do it with Surface 2, you can just do it a lot better with Surface Pro 2.

When Surface Pro first launched, it wasn’t just a good device, it was arguably the best Ultrabook on the market. Surface Pro 2 launches into a much more competitive marketplace. I don’t know if I can make the same statement about it vs. Ultrabooks today. That’s not a bad thing as it is still a very different type of device, but it does make for a more difficult buying decision.

Surface Pro 2 isn’t the perfect notebook and it isn’t the perfect tablet. It’s a compromise in between. Each generation, that compromise becomes smaller.

What I was hoping for this round was an even thinner/lighter chassis, but it looks like we’ll have to wait another year for that. Battery life is still not up to snuff with traditional ARM based tablets, and Surface Pro 2 seems to pay more of a penalty there than other Haswell ULT based designs – I’m not entirely sure why. Parts of the rest of the world have moved on to things like 802.11ac and PCIe based SSDs. Microsoft appears to be on a slightly strange update cadence with its Surface lineup, and for the brand’s sake I hope we see that rectified next round. It’s not enough to just put out a good product, you have to take advantage of all technologies available, when they are available. Just like last year, my recommendation comes with a caution – Surface Pro 2 is good, I’m happier using it than I was with last year’s model, but the Broadwell version will be even better. What’s likely coming down the pipe are improvements in the chassis and in battery life. You’ll have to wait around a year for those things, if you can’t, then this year’s model is still pretty good.

Battery Life
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  • Mondozai - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Reading this it seems like Microsoft played it safe, or maybe it's just the lack of execution we've become used to seeing with the WP8 platform(although the updates on that area is picking up). Hopefully the much-lauded "re-org" can change things to become much better for the third generation.

    The Surface Pro is still too expensive considering that the batterylife isn't up to par.
    Reading the review, it still feels more like a jumbled 2-in-1 laptop rather than a tablet with a keyboard cover.

    The whole point of the Google Nexus series is to show the other OEMs what is possible to do. It's priced quite cheap - in relative terms - and you get good hardware for the money. If we compare the Surface series, can anyone say it is driving the ecosystem to the right place?
    Reply
  • inighthawki - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Is that a joke? The surface pro is widely regarded as very good for it's price compared to other ultrabooks in the same tier, as well as versus the MBA. Good perf, good display, and while the battery isn't great, it's not horrible either for the form factor and the power it pumps out. Reply
  • augustofretes - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    The Air has longer battery life, a proper (better) keyboard, Intel HD5000, a much better trackpad and is cheaper. The Surface Pro has a stylus support, a touchscreen a better screen.

    The thing is that as a laptop replacement it's not good at all, simply the experience of typing is too inferior and so is only having to angles for that hinge.

    To be honest with you, with regular ultrabook hitting 8-10 hours battery life in very small 11.6" sizes, the Surface Pro and tablets in general (unless you don't want to spend as much money as you need to to get an Ultrabook) are pretty much useless, especially if you own a smartphone.
    Reply
  • augustofretes - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    So many typos. Reply
  • FredyHandanovic - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
    http://goo.gl/iwURWg
    Reply
  • pppdns - Thursday, December 12, 2013 - link

    ↑ spam ad, please delete! Reply
  • doobydoo - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Excellent post. Reply
  • santiagoanders - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Now list the Surface pro 2 advantages.
    And please explain how the MBA is cheaper when it starts at $1000.
    Reply
  • Scannall - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    MBA starts at $999

    Surface 2 starts at $899 + 129 for the keyboard. = $1028.
    Reply
  • santiagoanders - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    So I guess we should add in the cost of a Wacom pad to the MBA, huh? Reply

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