Review

Review: Surface 2

The Surface 2 represents a fresh start for Microsoft’s tablet line. Sure, you could easily say that it’s the second installment of the Surface RT (now simply called Surface), but with a new marketing campaign, a new name (Microsoft has dropped the RT branding entirely), beefed up internals and an updated operating system, Surface 2 is almost entirely new in every way, shape and form.

What Microsoft has done with Surface 2 is a lot like what it did with Windows 8.1 (read Neowin’s review here): introduced a refined product that has matured in its capabilities. But a product is only as good as its marketing campaign, and Microsoft has already started to show off a cleaner, more focused, campaign to educate the consumer. Not to mention that the back of the device now says “Surface” instead of showing the Windows logo.

 

Spec Surface 2  
Display 10.6 inches with 1920x1080 resolution  
Weight 676 grams  
Color Silver  
Storage 32 or 64GB + (microSD card up to 64GB)  
Memory 2GB  
Processor Quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 4-1.7 GHz  
Cameras 5-megapixel rear camera
3.5-megapixel front camera
 
Battery Life Up to 10 hours  
Accessories Touch Cover 2 ($119.99)
Type Cover 2 ($129.99)
Power Cover (not yet released)
Docking Station (not yet released)
 
LTE support Coming in 2014  
Price $449 for 32GB, $549 for 64GB (USD)  
Availability October 2013  

On paper, the specs do offer up a tantalizing array of options for a tablet; the price, well, that’s up to the consumer to decide if the Surface 2 is priced correctly. When compared to the iPad, the Surface 2 pricing is right on the mark, but last time around consumers did not agree – only time will tell if round two is any different.

 

The design of the Surface 2 continues with the VaporMG casing, but the new tablet differs from the original Surface in terms of color, as Microsoft gave it a silver casing it calls Magnesium. It’s on the lighter side of the sort of silver spectrum, bordering slightly on a silver-white color, and it looks quite good. The finish is smooth and the build construction, as with the previous generation of the Surface, feels fantastic. It’s clear that Microsoft knows how to build hardware as the previous generation of Surfaces, at least publicly, had a low rate of failure and we have the same expectations for the second generation of devices.

Applying pressure to opposing corners doesn’t cause the case to flex or even squeak, an indication of the solid design of the device. The weight of the tablet (1.49 pounds) puts it into the featherweight class, as it really is thin and light. While adding a touch/type cover adds a smidgen of weight and bulk, it’s well worth the expense as it will cover the screen and doesn’t impact portability.

The buttons on the side and the top of the device appear to have been improved over the original Surface as well. Now the buttons have a firm engagement action and offer up a satisfying click, indicating a properly engaged button. The volume rocker on the side also feels a bit textured too, which is a nice addition. 

While the exterior looks nearly identical to the Surface RT, one of the major improvements is the updated hinge design that now features two stopping points. This updated hinge design is a big improvement over the first Surface and is almost enough reason alone to make the upgrade. With multiple stop points, using the devices at different elevations becomes easier as you can adjust the display depending on your seat height. 

The updated kickstand, at both positions, feels strong and more than capable of supporting your device with touch interaction.

 

The Surface 2 got a much-needed resolution boost to 1080p, and the display looks fantastic. While we can always ask for a higher resolution screen and still would love to see this form factor get pushed even higher in the in DPI department, Microsoft made significant improvements in this department.


The Start button, as seen in the Surface 2 (left) and original Surface (right).

Off-angle viewing of the Surface 2 is quite good and will present no issue to sharing your screen with those around you. Touch sensitivity is, again, on par with our expectations, and the Surface 2 picked gestures up accurately and consistently.

With deep blacks and vibrant colors, the display of the Surface 2 is one that you will likely love even if it isn’t the highest resolution display on the block.

Using the tablet in direct sunlight is still not a great experience and it seems that no one has really mastered this trait. The Surface 2 is usable under these conditions, but this is a weakness across the industry and not limited to the Surface 2. Some screens fare better than others and the Surface 2 does OK in this department. Nothing to get excited about here, but if you plan on working exclusively in direct sunlight, well, your tablet options are quite limited to begin with.

 

The updated Tegra 4 processor certainly has its advantages over the Tegra 3, and the performance factor does show a modest boost over the previous generation of devices.

The Tegra 4 hums along nicely inside the Surface 2 and does not heat up the exterior case, as with on many laptops (and, occasionally, the original Surface). The Surface 2 is a fanless product, and the Tegra 4 provides enough horsepower to give great performance but not enough to cook your fingertips.


A short clip showing performance boost over the original Surface.

Games, apps, and Office all ran without hesitation, and if your are coming from the original Surface, you will notice a modest boost in cold restarts. In daily operations, however, you will likely not notice that this is an ARM-based machine as opposed to an x86 one, which is a good thing. The machine runs Windows RT 8.1 quite well and is certainly usable as a daily machine.

While the performance boost is not going to break any benchmark records, it’s a notable spec bump that keeps the Surface 2 competitive within its respective market segment.

 

When you shove stereo speakers into a small cavity, the results are rarely great. With the Surface 2, the statement holds true as the speakers simply allow you to listen to a video or music, but do not expect anything remarkable to come out of the tiny speakers.

This is not a major surprise that the speakers on the Surface 2 don’t blow our expectations out of the water; in fact, they are right in line with our expectations, as they are comparable to mid-range laptop and most tablet speakers. They get the job done but are weak in the lows and mids, and the highs simply suffice. For watching a few fail videos on YouTube, they work well, but get headphones if you want to watch your favorite movies on Netflix.

 

If the Surface was good in terms of battery life, the Surface 2 is exceptional, and this is one the high points of the tablet. Yes, all the other additional features are great, but if you have that nagging thought of “when do I need to charge next?” always running rampant in your head, then nothing else matters.

Fortunately, the Surface 2 did remarkably well here, as we were able to get more than 11 hours use out of the tablet before we had to think about plugging back in. That’s 11 hours of real-world usage that included watching YouTube, emailing, Twitter interactions, and a lot of web browsing.

For a tablet – or even a laptop – the Surface 2 battery life is fantastic and should delight consumers with its performance.

Cameras on a tablet are a bit of a odd feature; front-facing cameras make sense, but rear-facing cameras are a bit different. If you have a smartphone, there is a very high probability that the camera on your phone will take much better pictures than the one on the Surface 2. Additionally, using your phone to take a picture is a significantly easier process than holding up a 10-inch tablet.

With the above being said, the front-facing camera works well for its intended uses. Skype video chats worked effortlessly, and the other parties had no issues seeing my lovely face during our conversations.


Click the images to enlarge.

The rear camera gets the job done. Images tend to be cool, and the shutter speed is only sufficient enough to make it recommended for using in a pinch. I wouldn’t replace my smartphone camera with it, given the choice, and would only use the Surface 2 camera in a last-ditch scenario. Just know that the camera works, but it’s more of a “me-too” feature that will rarely be used by most consumers.

 

Microsoft’s Touch and Type covers have both been updated as well alongside the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. The Touch covers are essentially giant trackpads at this point, and both the Touch and Type 2 covers now have backlighting and are much snappier and more responsive to user input.

The updates to the Touch Cover 2 are quite interesting as it offers up a new way to interact with the Surface 2. Seeing as it is essentially, as I mentioned, a giant trackpad because of the inclusion of a sensor array instead of pressure sensitive sensors in the previous generation, you can now navigate using the Touch Cover by swiping your finger across it. While this may not seem like a big deal at first, once you get used to using the entire Touch cover as a navigation tool, you wish it were available on the Type Cover 2 as well.

Like the first edition of the Touch Cover, the typing experience is still not great for daily use. Even though the gesture support is great, I would still only recommend the Touch Cover to those who primarily want to protect their Surface tablets, only occasionally using it for typing. The lack of feedback from the Touch Cover makes it feel like you are typing on felt covered cardboard and it’s hard to firmly convince yourself that you're hitting the correct keys. Now, if you are persistent, you can get quite good at using the Touch Cover – but it takes a bit of practice, and you should try it out at a Microsoft Store or Best Buy before making a purchase.

My keyboard preference is still for the Type Cover 2. Even though you lose the gesture features, the improved typing experience makes up for this drawback. While it’s still not a perfect replacement for a true keyboard, it is quite usable on a daily basis as long as you are on a hard surface.

We have yet to get our hands on the new Power Cover, but when we do, we will be sure to update this post with our feedback on that accessory as well.

 

Windows RT 8.1 is the brother of Windows 8.1 (read our review here), and because of that you should make sure to read the full Windows 8.1 review, as almost all of the updates (everything that applies to the Start screen, snapping, Start button) also apply to Windows RT 8.1.

When you add in all the advantages of RT 8.1 to the Surface 2 and ignore the other upgrades, it results in a serious net gain for the device. Windows RT 8.1 feels great on the Surface 2, and the performance aspect gave smooth transitions and opened apps quickly. There is still a bit of lag opening up Office applications compared to traditional laptop/desktop, but it is minimal and most consumers won’t notice the slower opening or even care that it happens – it really is a small blip on the radar. 

One issue we do have with the software is Microsoft's inclusion of the desktop. Yes, we know it is a familiar location for many Windows users but for the novice consumer, the desktop makes it appear that legacy apps will run on the Surface 2. While we know this is not the case, Microsoft could easily remove the desktop environment and have the Office apps launch from the Start environment. 

 

In daily use, the Surface 2 could be used as a laptop replacement provided you don’t need any other desktop applications beyond Office, and you can overcome other usability issues (noted below). The Windows Store is filling out quickly, and with a desktop-class web browsers included, the Surface 2 really is a great machine. But, the device is not perfect, and there are a few usability issues.

Using the Surface 2 on your lap is still not a great experience. The additional hinge points do help with usability on hard surfaces but no matter how you place it on your legs while sitting in a chair, it still lacks confidence. What happens is the connection point between a Touch/Type Cover pivots upward when you are typing, tipping the screen back slightly, and this makes the device still feel unstable. The Surface 2 is slightly better in this area than the Surface RT, but a traditional laptop fills this scenario much better.

Additionally, lying in bed and trying to use a 16:9 tablet is not much fun either – it works, but a 4:3 setup here is still desired as turning Surface tablets vertically is a bit odd. When you do hold the tablet vertically in bed, the contents on the screen are a bit squished, and running any sort of app in a snapped mode is out of the question in terms of usability. Many will likely argue that turning it horizontally works just fine, and that’s great, but for me, 16:9 should be held horizontally, all the time.

Every tablet on the market has some drawbacks and these two items noted above are still some of the bigger issues with the Surface 2. Are they issues for you? That's a personal choice, but you should be aware of them before you slide the credit card at the checkout counter.

Even with those two shortcomings, the Surface 2 is a great jump up from the original Surface, especially with Windows RT 8.1.

 

There is a lot to love about the Surface 2, but the issues from the first iteration of the Surface RT are still unresolved. Using the tablet on your lap has the same lackluster experience as before and the price is still high when you look at other Windows tablets that offer proper Windows 8.1.

But, there have been significant strides too, as Windows RT 8.1 is a much better OS than what initially shipped with the first Surface, and the screen resolution increase is extremely welcome.

It’s clear that Microsoft can build great hardware, the fit and finish of the Surface 2 is impeccable, and for the right audience, the Surface 2 is a perfect blend of laptop and tablet.

The ultimate underlying issue here is who is the target market? Sure, at $449, you could say it is targeting the tablet market as it competes nicely with the iPad at that price point. But then again, there are cheaper Windows 8.1 tablets with Bay Trail on the horizon.

So then if you say it’s competing in the laptop market, well, you need to add at least $79.99 (realistically $129.99 if you want a decent keyboard) to the price point which then puts you into the cheap laptop category which, admittedly, does many things better than the Surface does in terms of on-the-go usability.

The question comes down to, "Is the Surface 2 is a tablet or a laptop?" The answer to that question is that it’s a bit of both, and unfortunately the Surface 2 masters neither category. With that being said, the Surface 2 is still a lot of fun to use and has its purposes, and for that we love the Surface 2. If you can overcome its limitations, you’ll be delighted with the user experience.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft: We are 'working with content owners' on Windows Phone WebApp concerns

Next Story

Microsoft trademarks 'Every Street United'

74 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

i live in a small city in japan,I 've never seen anyone using Surface or Nokia Lumia but a lot of people with Apple products such as iphone,ipad,macbook That all says the situation of MS.

All they do is talk about their market share, no convincing why there product is actually any good, or how it compares with other products currently on the market.

Vinylchan said,
All they do is talk about their market share, no convincing why there product is actually any good, or how it compares with other products currently on the market.

So the commercials I see are talking about their market share?

I think they products are pretty good.

How much space does the OS take up on the 32GB model? I'm tempted, but $449 is just too much for what I'm going to use a tablet for.

AR556 said,
How much space does the OS take up on the 32GB model? I'm tempted, but $449 is just too much for what I'm going to use a tablet for.

I think it uses up less than the original did, they've made some changes so the difference is in the 7-10GB range maybe? That is it'll use 7-10GB less OOTB than the Surface RT did.

GP007 said,

I think it uses up less than the original did, they've made some changes so the difference is in the 7-10GB range maybe? That is it'll use 7-10GB less OOTB than the Surface RT did.

That's better. Still its more than what I'm willing to pay for a tablet. For my usage, I could get by on the new Kindle or preferably a Nexus 7. If Microsoft would release a tablet that matched the Nexus7 in features/performance and stay in the $200/$250 price range, I'd pick the surface. Sadly, no joy.

Another sticking point for me is the RT thing. They're eventually going to merge WP with RT and I'm wondering where the current hardware is going to end up with all that. If its going to happen in the next year or two, then I don't want to take the chance on MS deprecating current hardware for a re-imagining of the platform. WP8 should've been scaled up from the get-go for tablets, just like iOS is for iPhones and iPads. I say take WP8.1, add the desktop option from RT and put a file browser within the main interface and kill off RT completely.

Edited by AR556, Oct 23 2013, 9:09pm :

I am starting to wonder if having a win 8 UI on a tablet is hurting the surface. The ipad has a mobile looking ui. While the Surface has the metro look that is seen on desktops, laptops, xbox* and a lot of people still don't know what is/ don't like it. I would like to seek a focus group on the surface.

tytytucke said,
I am starting to wonder if having a win 8 UI on a tablet is hurting the surface. The ipad has a mobile looking ui. While the Surface has the metro look that is seen on desktops, laptops, xbox* and a lot of people still don't know what is/ don't like it. I would like to seek a focus group on the surface.
I'd venture a guess that many a focus group has been tested.

The surface has a mobile looking UI. In that it's touch friendly. Because that interface is also available on Laptops, Desktops, XBox does not make it so. More people know what the Modern environment is than use OSX. Seriously, people's perspective is hilarious. Apps the problem and the answer. They are coming along quickly now.

MrHumpty said,
I'd venture a guess that many a focus group has been tested.

As long as we're guessing, I'd venture a guess that "scrapping Metro altogether and coming up with something better" was not an option presented to said focus group. More than likely just varying incarnations of Metro. And those people were happy to be there and eat the croissant, drink the orange juice and get a check for $100 on the way out.

MrHumpty said,
More people know what the Modern environment is than use OSX. Seriously, people's perspective is hilarious.

More people may *know* what Metro is than use OSX, but that's about it. By and large people aren't using Metro on PC's. Realize that over 100 million combined downloads have been clocked for all the major start menu replacements. That is record breaking rejection, and hardly hilarious.

Edited by Dilburt, Oct 23 2013, 10:48pm :

I understand what your saying but I'm not convinced. people who never used a computer before would have such a difficult time compared to the iPhone. The interface is much more complex than competitors. It is still relatively new. I don't know... I would like to take the surface and change the OS to Apple ios and see peoples reactions.

These people are looking for comfort..
The screen does not support its self like a laptop does, so you have to hold it up with your hands. That is a huge con that people are focusing on when this isn't a laptop. But It is confusing how it is marketed for the average daily web surfer user and try's to be a working tool. But it can't do either of them well. When Its the same size of a lot of laptops than its to big to be marketed as a small gaming device. Some times you have to ask do I need this, why not just have a laptop... what is this thing for.... instead of buying it because it cool and has some uses.

I'm still trying to figure out how to best use this device. You cannot comfortably use the device for long periods of time with out setting it on a flat surface (desk). But if you primarily use it on a desk why not just use a sleek laptop? Laptops have become just as portable as this tablet and are a lot less limited. Laptops can also be used on your lap. I don't understand its sole purpose and I don't think Microsoft does either. You have to have a more specific part of the market and make the best device for those people. If you try and make a device with features for everyone and cannot satisfy anyone than you won't unlock the products potential and you will never turn it into a cash cow.

differentiate the Surface RT from the Surface pro... instead of its faster and has desktop. actually make the Surface more like the ipad. make it a true competitor and market it as one. Consumers will easily look past the specs and the price if you have a great alternative. I know the advertisements try and do so. But the product is good enough to beat the ipad. The reason the Microsoft Kin phone failed is because it wasn't good enough, but that actual had a strong target market.

The ipad is already sold as an all in one and can successfully do so because people already know it is one. People are still learning what the surface is and when they find out what it is they are introduced to an ok competitor that has the same limitations as the ipad or new ones with some cool features. Innovation is key, product differentiation is very important. Its trying to be different, but its just doesn't have good enough features. There needs to be something that grabs me, something that creates a new need that has to be filled and can only be filled by purchasing the surface.

Everything the surface can do, my laptop can do better....

Edited by tytytucke, Oct 23 2013, 7:35pm :

You wrote a wall of text that said "if you want a laptop buy a laptop." This does compete with an ipad, as a tablet. The product *is* good enough to beat the ipad, the app store is not, yet.

You obviously missed my point. I understand that's a lot to read and has mistakes but if your going to reply try a little harder to under stand it all Instead of replying to just say " no, nah uh your wrong" If the surface was good enough then it wouldn't be sold as a loss.

WORSE performance review ever guys. seriously? what about loading sites ( a major use of surface is web browsing). what about launching metro apps and not just word. what about other critical tasks like the performance of the mail client. these were major problems with surface RT and your review of surface 2 leaves all of that unanswered. A simple boot sequence and launch word says nothing about the device.

neonspark said,
[...]these were major problems with surface RT

I must've missed that in my daily use of my own RT. Can you quantify your expectations?

Remove desktop environment? That would be incredibly stupid. There are so many features that are accessible through the desktop only besides Office. Like more advanced network options and connection to hardware screens. Or file management and explorer (the modern alternative doesnt have nearly all features of the desktop version).

I understand the confusion and perhaps its better if they did make Office accessible in a seperate screen and locked the desktop away. However the desktop should still be accessible for those that need it.

Ronnet said,
Remove desktop environment? That would be incredibly stupid. There are so many features that are accessible through the desktop only besides Office. Like more advanced network options and connection to hardware screens. Or file management and explorer (the modern alternative doesnt have nearly all features of the desktop version).

I understand the confusion and perhaps its better if they did make Office accessible in a seperate screen and locked the desktop away. However the desktop should still be accessible for those that need it.

It's not removed, as far as I know on RT MS is just not pinning the desktop tile on the start screen, you can still get to it when/if you need it. I think in the future though, they should place it in the PC settings app as a on/off option. So those who really need the desktop can turn it on. This can happen once they have metro versions of Office out and I also expect more of those advanced settings you can still only find in control panel will keep being added to pc settings. Once you have that, the majority, the need for the desktop on a tablet device, specially the newer mini 8" ones, becomes less and less of an issue.

GP007 said,

It's not removed, as far as I know on RT MS is just not pinning the desktop tile on the start screen, you can still get to it when/if you need it. I think in the future though, they should place it in the PC settings app as a on/off option. So those who really need the desktop can turn it on. This can happen once they have metro versions of Office out and I also expect more of those advanced settings you can still only find in control panel will keep being added to pc settings. Once you have that, the majority, the need for the desktop on a tablet device, specially the newer mini 8" ones, becomes less and less of an issue.

I was responding to the review in which the author suggested not including a desktop in the RT version because it confuses consumers. I own a Surface RT so I know its not removed at the moment (for which Im happy).

I agree that in time the desktop environment should become obsolete for touch-users. However we arent there yet. And unlike what the author suggested the desktop in RT is for more than Office. It needs to stay around for many years just like DOS needed to be a part of Windows before.

Ronnet said,

I was responding to the review in which the author suggested not including a desktop in the RT version because it confuses consumers. I own a Surface RT so I know its not removed at the moment (for which Im happy).

I agree that in time the desktop environment should become obsolete for touch-users. However we arent there yet. And unlike what the author suggested the desktop in RT is for more than Office. It needs to stay around for many years just like DOS needed to be a part of Windows before.

Oh I'm with you, it's not going away anytime soon but I do expect them to change it and not leave it as is. As they add more things to the new UI at some point they'll morph the desktop to match more so it doesn't feel or look like two different OSs slapped together. If they do this right then it should work out quite well.

GP007 said,

Oh I'm with you, it's not going away anytime soon but I do expect them to change it and not leave it as is. As they add more things to the new UI at some point they'll morph the desktop to match more so it doesn't feel or look like two different OSs slapped together. If they do this right then it should work out quite well.

I hope so. I don't mind going to the desktop for more advanced options as these are options that arent included on iOS and Androids. So its not as if Microsoft's temporary 'solution' is underperforming compared to the competition.

But I do find it strange that the desktop still has areo effects. They made it a little bit flatter but not enough to make it match the start screen. And while in time the desktop will disappear for touch-users, those on non-touch will continue to use both the start screen and the desktop.

At least that is what Microsoft hopes to achieve. For that to happen I feel they do need to unite it into one experience. For example have an option for non-touch users to locate all the charms in the lower left corner - all the time - whether your in the desktop, start screen or a modern app. When in desktop the taskbar is right next to the charms, when in modern UI the appbar is next to it.

So why don't phablet's like the Galaxy Note get this treatment? You know, too big to be a phone, too small to be a tablet, thus it master's nothing?

It's not a laptop and should not be judged as one. It works fine in your lap, I wouldn't not buy if that is the concern. It's fine.

Microsoft probably made less units this year so as to not create a loss on the balance sheet. It's just a shame that they refuse to simulate the buying process by offering this for a limited time of one month with a free keyboard. At this point, they need the stimulation in sales.

The only difference the higher screen res serves to do is make the desktop smaller, I was fine with the lower resolution, my eyes must be bad, because I cannot tell the difference sharpness wise, at all.

I have a particular usage scenario that only the Surface form factor solves. I work in my truck over looking the ocean or which ever Vista of the day I choose, and I hang the tablet by the kickstand over the steering wheel. I put a little wedge under the keyboard between it and the steering wheel to make it a little easier to type. Tethered to the phone, this is one quality of life scenario that I will probably never give up. It's awesome.

I'm curious what reviewers think when they say that the Surface can be matched by a cheap laptop. Are they talking in terms of the form factor alone, or do they have a specific machine in mind that comes in at a 550$ price point and offers a 1920x1080 display, touch screen, 11 hour battery life under normal usage, and has this kind of build quality and portability?

You're also not going to get a cheap laptop with a quality IPS display like in the Surface 2, which will offer superior viewing angles and much better more accurate colours.

To me a good display is one of the most important things by far.

I had a different experience with my Surface 2 last night. I only got to use it for about 30 minutes, but one of the things I noticed is that the thing DID get hot! My Surface RT never did that.

jakem1 said,
No. Windows RT doesn't support that.

It doesn't have true domain join but didn't they add that new feature, who's name I forget, which allows a device to use the domains resources to a degree but not connect fully? I think it was called Workspace? I don't run a domain so I don't know how it works really.

CAP-Team said,
What I'd like to know is if you can join the Surface 2 to a domain.

no you cant, same as all devices running rt

Workplace join and Work folders. At the moment it can only use WSUS and have a security/group policy set locally via gpedit and secpol

CAP-Team said,
What I'd like to know is if you can join the Surface 2 to a domain.

I noticed the review didn't mention the lack of active directory compatibility. This is a pretty big gotcha if MS expects to sell it as the "business/workforce tablet" that their marketing materials try to suggest. The way to set yourself apart from the competition is by setting yourself apart from the competition.

TPreston said,
Workplace join and Work folders. At the moment it can only use WSUS and have a security/group policy set locally via gpedit and secpol

That's something at least, I don't know why the limitation on domain join though.

Dilburt said,

I noticed the review didn't mention the lack of active directory compatibility. This is a pretty big gotcha if MS expects to sell it as the "business/workforce tablet" that their marketing materials try to suggest. The way to set yourself apart from the competition is by setting yourself apart from the competition.

This doesn't seem to be an issue for companies buying iPads though, and RT devices are in the same league as iPads (ARM based, app store apps only, long battery, cheaper etc.). Larger companies will not make this mistake you speak of, and any competent IT dept will be well aware of this or find out before buying.

The only real potential 'victims' of this confusion would be smaller companies with no IT on sight, but then again a lot of these companies wont just go out and buy, they will ask someone in store or ask their IT support provider.

This has been absolutely no sectrey since the very start, 8.1 and surface 2 change nothing and in this whole year I haven't heard much of an outrage from companies that have been 'tricked' into thinking this is full windows with domain join.

Hell even full x86/64 computers can be bought and not possible to domain join, you have to make sure its running pro (something that over in the UK at least its very hard to walk into a staore and buy a pc running pro, its all home based).

So the whole premise of your point assumes that right now its simple, but anyone not in the know and running a domain network who goes into a PC world and just buys what they fancy will fall into the exact same 'trap' that is being made out here to be new, its not, and domain networks need certain computers with certain operating systems and these people will most likely buy from someone they can ask about this.

RainShark said,
I wish it had GPS

Windows 8.1 has API support for 3rd party gps, so dongles should be hitting the market anytime. (either through GPS / or LTE modems..)

spudtrooper said,
Windows 8.1 has API support for 3rd party gps, so dongles should be hitting the market anytime. (either through GPS / or LTE modems..)

Interesting thought. I have one of those dongles that came with Microsoft's own Streets and Trips package from 2006. I had to hunt it down and hook it up...

The RT tablet (just upgraded to 8.1) couldn't find a driver. However, Windows 8.1 Pro, on another machine, identified it and downloaded the appropriate driver automatically; it's identified as "Microsoft USB GPS Port (COM3)". If I installed the software, I suspect it would "just work" at this point.

But, it looks like RT is SOL.

Edited by _dandy_, Oct 23 2013, 7:23pm :

_dandy_ said,


But, it looks like RT is SOL.

For that device, probably.. i know some of my aviation apps were waiting for 8.1 before they could implement the GPS support.. the ones that will probably work are the bluetooth ones (on rt).

spudtrooper said,
For that device, probably.. i know some of my aviation apps were waiting for 8.1 before they could implement the GPS support.. the ones that will probably work are the bluetooth ones (on rt).

Correct, for that device only. Now that I've opened up my old parts drawer, I'm going through a whole bunch of ancient hardware... :-)

No luck with my old ATI remote--no surprise there, as ATI never even released bothered to release Vista/7 drivers for it...same with a USB magnetic/chipped card reader. At least the card reader works on 8.1 Pro...hmmm, what else can I find...

Great review. I feel the same way. I used my surface 2 last night as I lie on the couch and I wished it was 9 inches or so. Its kind-of awkward to use. My Acer Iconia w510 at 10.1" was easier to handle/use in a laying down position. I have a feeling that the dell at 8" would feel right at home in this leisure type setting.

I think a lot of people should wait for the upcoming service pack in early 2014 that will allow enhance the experience for smaller devices and the rumoured 8" Surface that will come then (with the Metro version of Office).

Great review, I think its certainly a worthy improvement over the first model.
Hopefully will be picking one up this weekend! Cant wait!

The surface is not a laptop or a tablet. That's the Whole point. Why do people need another when we have so much already?

And I expected there to be more RT Metro Store apps than this time last year. There aren't. And pretty much all other Surface RT 2 reviews on the web make note of it.

Why does Neowin's review leave this potential dealbreaker out? No mention of the dire RT app situation. It is a legitimate concern for would-be buyers, especially if MS is trying to woo them from other more established platforms. "Just use the browser" isn't a solution in the current app-dominated mobile space, not to mention sucks more internet than apps which is a concern for users with metered or data-capped internet.

Edited by Dilburt, Oct 23 2013, 10:48pm :

Just use a browser is what Google are saying about Chrome OS and look how many OEMs are building those machines vs making RT machines. Makes no sense to me given how much more capable Windows RT is.

But that aside I agree with you, the app situation is better than it was but still poor in comparison to iOS and Android. To me RT is still in transition, Microsoft claim to have moved from a 3 year product cycle to a 1 year one, but in reality it's still three years, they are just releasing product previews every year. I guess they have to do that to refine the product and get apps to slowly populate the store. Even they don't have the Metro version of Office ready yet. I think when 8.2 comes out and the third version of the Surface it will be a strong competitor and Apple and Google will have a fight on their hands but right now it's still not strong enough. By then it'll have the apps, the desktop will be gone and it will be a pure tablet OS. Maybe Microsoft will jump to Windows 9 instead of 8.2 and throw in some other innovations (merging with Windows Phone for instance) and skip the backlash that has come up against Windows 8, just like they jumped from Vista to Windows 7 (even though that was really sp2).

Black covers look so much better with the silver casing of the Surface 2 than they did with the original. I'd love to get one, but can't justify buying it when I'll surely want the smaller Surface whenever it's released, likely next year.

I think the smaller body will be much better for 16:9 as well, since it'll be easier to hold in portrait.

Exactly what I expected, better than the surface rt, still not perfect on the lap (they didn't address it all that well) but still a great machine hardware wise.

gregalto said,
Exactly what I expected, better than the surface rt, still not perfect on the lap (they didn't address it all that well) but still a great machine hardware wise.
The only way to satisfy those with lap complaints is to make it not a tablet and make it a laptop. That's not happening.

Was going to recommend this review to people, up until the point I read them recommend the tablet be 4:3 aspect ratio. Sorry can't point anyone towards nonsense like that. 4:3 is good for nothing. 16:10 or 15:9 are the only acceptable alternatives to 16:9.

Anyone recommending 4:3 in the year 2013 is drinking way too much Apple juice.

a 4:3 setup here is still desired as turning Surface tablets vertically is a bit odd.

Nope.

Avatar Roku said,
Was going to recommend this review to people, up until the point I read them recommend the tablet be 4:3 aspect ratio. Sorry can't point anyone towards nonsense like that. 4:3 is good for nothing. 16:10 or 15:9 are the only acceptable alternatives to 16:9.

Anyone recommending 4:3 in the year 2013 is drinking way too much Apple juice.

Nope.

It's funny that when an application optimizes itself for vertical it's actually nice. MetroTube and WSJ work great.

MrHumpty said,
The only way to satisfy those with lap complaints is to make it not a tablet and make it a laptop.

Nope. They can fix it easily by having another bar pop out under the stand that sits horizontal to your legs. This bar can fold into the stand itself, making the stand only slightly chunkier.

It can be done.

Avatar Roku said,
Was going to recommend this review to people. . .
On a similar note, I'm totally loving these new styles of reviews, with the themed dividers that change colors and such.
Excellent touch

ZipZapRap said,

Nope. They can fix it easily by having another bar pop out under the stand that sits horizontal to your legs. This bar can fold into the stand itself, making the stand only slightly chunkier.

It can be done.

Slightly chunkier would be a step backwards. And frankly, it sits well on your lap, but it requires something come out and support the screen. Even your description requires the same. The solution is to have the monitor counter weighted by the keyboard and a ridged hinge... you know, like a laptop.

MrHumpty said,
Slightly chunkier would be a step backwards. And frankly, it sits well on your lap, but it requires something come out and support the screen. Even your description requires the same. The solution is to have the monitor counter weighted by the keyboard and a ridged hinge... you know, like a laptop.

I said making the STAND chunkier... you can then shave off the difference on the tablet itself, so there'd be no difference

ZipZapRap said,
I said making the STAND chunkier... you can then shave off the difference on the tablet itself, so there'd be no difference
You realize the stand is integrated into the tablet, right?

MrHumpty said,
You realize the stand is integrated into the tablet, right?

Really I didn't know I only own one :-/

Anyway you don't get me so carry on, nothing to see here

ZipZapRap said,

Really I didn't know I only own one :-/

Anyway you don't get me so carry on, nothing to see here

I get what you're saying. But the laptop discussion centers around a ridged hinge more than anything else (and a weighted keyboard that counter-balances the screen). Until it offers that experience nobody will enjoy it as a true laptop replacement... in the lap.