The Surface Pro 2 is a step up from other first generation Microsoft tablets. If you like the Surface tablet but you long for additional functionality, the Surface Pro 2 may be just what you need.
If you have found the previous versions Microsoft Surface to be lacking in functionality, the new Surface Pro 2 provides everything you liked about the earlier Surface plus new capabilities. The ever growing inventory of Windows apps places limitations on previous versions of Surface due to its ARM-based processor with a 16×32-bit register which makes choosing apps somewhat difficult.
The new Surface Pro 2 steps up to the plate by offering complete support for x86 applications. Additionally, the Surface Pro 2 is equipped with an Intel i5 processor which adds some bulk to the unit but significantly improves the tablet performance. You also get improved viewing of Windows x86 applications with a new screen that boasts a 1080p resolution.
Surface Pro 2 Specifications
Instead of simply listing the specifications and leaving you to figure out what it all means, let’s go through each specification from the operating system to the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and explain some of the benefits or drawbacks.
The Surface Pro 2 tablet offers the Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit and 128-bit operating system. A step forward from Windows 7 toward an app-based environment, Windows 8 Pro performs faster than Windows 7 with a chipset that is currently being used in many high end ultra-book notebook PCs. Instead of using the Task Menu, you simply touch the Windows logo for quick access to applications. This shifts the emphasis to touch functionality rather than having to type on the keyboard.
The new 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor with an advanced cooling system is designed to be used by those who seek more horsepower to run demanding applications and video games as well. The processor is a “Haswell” processor which is a step up from the Intel Core i5 “Ivy Tail” which was included in previous versions of Surface. This makes the Surface Pro 2 a bit heavier but adds performance which is up to 30% better than the original Surface Pro.
The Core i5 processor clocks in at 1.7GHz however, the Turbo Boost feature which is Intel’s signature technology allows the CPU to run at speeds of up to 2.6GHz. This provides plenty of speed for running the massive selection of apps and productivity tools. The Intel HD graphics 4000 also provides enhanced graphics capability for viewing multimedia as well as files and applications.
The amount of Random Access Memory capability plays an important role in PC performance. RAM is the location in the Surface Pro 2 where applications and data are stored to enable them to be easily reached by the CPU. The applications and data are stored in the RAM until you power off the device. When you power it on again the files and data are reloaded in the Random Access Memory from the hard disk for quick access.
You can look at the amount of RAM as being the Surface Pro 2’s short term memory and the hard disk as the long term memory. The Surface Pro 2 offers 4GB of RAM with 8GB of RAM available in the more expensive versions. This ensures speedy access to files and applications and makes streaming video a breeze.
Hard Disk Storage:
The base model of the Surface Pro 2 offers 64GB of storage and is designed for storing files and apps without sacrificing performance. For users who insist on access to thousands of apps with storage for a massive amount of files, the 128GB version of the Surface Pro 2 is more ideal for this purpose. There is also a MicroSD card slot which allows you to expand the storage plus, you have access to SkyDrive cloud storage with up to 200GB of storage space.
The display resolution for the Surface Pro 2 has not been upgraded and still uses a 1902 x 1080p pixel count. However, the new Surface Pro 2 offers a 10.6 inch ClearType touchscreen display with a screen panel that has improved color precision. The display also offers bright contrast and maintains consistency regardless of the viewing angle. Although not out of the ordinary, this is still a decent display when it comes to viewing multimedia, accessing applications, and using the Surface Pro 2 for daily tasks and business productivity.
As other reviews state, the display screen leaves much to be desired when scaling apps to accommodate keyboard and mouse capability or finger motions. Where one scaling size may suit a keyboard and mouse, the other scaling size is designed to be finger friendly. There is no way to switch between the two sizes unless you want to spend the time to tap the desktop multiple times and then swipe into the Control Panel to alter the settings. Then Windows requires you to log out and restart the device which means you are required to close all apps currently in use.
Microsoft decided not to make any changes in the camera which is included in the Surface Pro 2. Like the Surface RT, the Surface Pro 2 offers two 720p HD cameras on both the front and back of the device. This stills helps to get the job done when it comes to videoconferencing but multimedia viewing can be rather unimpressive.
Despite the fact there has been no change in the camera aside from a front camera sensor for low-light imaging performance, Microsoft did upgrade the speaker system to offer improved sound quality. The Surface Pro 2 is equipped with a Dolby sound system and microphone with two speakers that offer a richer listening experience.
Microsoft did not change the port configuration on the Surface Pro 2. You can still count on a USB 3.0 port, mini DisplayPort, a cover port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and microSDXC card slot which offers the same functionality as the previous version of Surface. Still it provides a decent setup which offers the capabilities necessary for daily productivity.
The Surface Pro 2 provides the wireless access you need for daily tasking with Bluetooth 4.0 functionality. The WiFi offers three standards which include 802.11 a/b/g/n with possible access to 802.11ac connectivity which is the newest wireless standard that operates at higher speeds while consuming less power. You can also access mobile broadband using a USB mobile broadband antenna, provided you can afford to sacrifice the only USB port on the device.
The battery life on the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is yet unclear. The previous version of the Surface Pro had a battery life of up to 5 hours. It is rumored that the Surface Pro 2 will offer a battery which provides at least 75 percent more productivity hours than its predecessor. You can also opt to purchase the optional Power Cover which connects to the keyboard and offers additional juice thanks to the built-in battery.
The Surface Pro 2 offers an improved on-screen keyboard and comes preloaded with Windows 8.1. There are also new alignment features which allow you to open windows side-by-side for easy viewing and comparison capability.
Microsoft also brought back the greatly missed Start button and included an upgraded QWERTY keyboard featuring keys which utilize a sensor that allows the user to tap as opposed to pressing the keys as on a conventional keyboard. The Surface Pro 2 is equipped with 1000 sensors which are more precise when registering taps. This is an improvement over the previous version of Surface which offered 82 sensors resulting in dropped keystrokes.
The Touch Cover 2 is also backlit which will automatically dim when the keyboard is not in use. It also magnetically attaches to the Surface Pro 2 with a convenient click which tells you when it is properly connected or disconnected.
The Surface Pro 2 is designed to handle the thousands of Windows apps which is close to 100,000 now as opposed to 10,000 when the previous version of Surface was released. The Surface Pro 2 will include Skype which is preinstalled plus, when you purchase the Surface Pro 2, you receive free access to international calling for up to one year along with free access to Skype public WiFi hotspots.
Microsoft has also preinstalled Internet Explorer 11 in the Surface Pro 2 with access to SkyDrive cloud applications and online storage. You also get access to Xbox video, music, and games as well as Bing which is Microsoft’s signature search engine application.
Design and Dimensions:
At first glance, it looks like Microsoft neglected to make any changes in the Surface Pro. This is due to the marginal design changes such as the kick stand which can be adjusted to two different positions instead on a single one.
Probably the most significant change is the device dimensions which are 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches (27.45 x 17.3 x 1.35cm). The Surface Pro 2 is also noticeably heavier at just under two pounds which is due to the speedier Intel Core i5 processor.
The overall design is basically the same with the exception of the Start button which is displayed with a Windows logo and is situated on the base of the display. The kickstand is also situated differently which forms a line around the edge of the device to allow for proper venting of the internal cooling fans. The Surface Pro 2 also offers the same magnesium casing which is known for its durability.
Where can I preorder the surface Pro 2?
UK customers can preorder the surface pro 2 directly from the Microsoft website – click here
Customers in the US can pre order directly from the Official Microsoft website here – you lucky people in the US also have the option of visiting official Microsoft retail outlets across the country, something we do not have yet in Europe!
What about business customers?
To my knowledge, there is no discount available for business customers at this moment in time. I purchased my original Surface from our IT department in London, but I don’t think they even got a discount; they just purchased it direct and configured it for me.
What’s New? In a Nutshell
So, to review the comparisons we have made in this article between the Surface Pro 2 and the previous versions of the Surface tablet, here are some of the new features in a nutshell.
- Intel Core i5 Processor
- Increased App Capability
- New and Improved Keyboard Functionality
- Access to 802.11ac WiFi Connectivity
- Improved Battery Life
- Additional Kickstand Adjustment
- New Dolby Sound System
Surface Pro 2 – Pros and Cons
When compared to previous version of the Surface tablet, there is a lot to like about the new Surface Pro 2 with a lot of pros which outweigh the cons.
- Faster Performance:
The Surface Pro 2 is prepared to handle more apps and daily productivity tasks thanks to the new Intel Core i5 processing power.
- Improved Keyboard:
The new magnetically attached keyboard with backlighting sensors offers improved functionality. The increase in sensors offer better precision when registering taps.
- Longer Battery Life:
The Surface Pro 2 promises more battery life with the capability to extend the life using the optional Power Cover.
- Windows 8:
The full version of Windows 8 comes preinstalled with full desktop functionality. This is ideal for business users since all programs which can be used on Windows 8 desktop can also be used with the Surface Pro 2.
- Limited Mobility:
The Surface Pro 2 weighs more and is meant to be used in landscape mode. This is obvious due to the kickstand and the attachable keyboard cover which only functions in landscape mode.
- Complex Mobile Broadband Connectivity:
If it is mobile broadband you require, you must occupy the only USB port with a mobile antenna in order to achieve mobile wireless connectivity.
The Surface Pro can be rather pricey and comes in around the $799 price point depending upon what is under the hood.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is expected to hit the tablet PC market around October 22 of this year. Although fans of the Surface are hoping for lower price points, it remains uncertain as to whether or not Microsoft will listen to consumer feedback.
On a personal note, I love my original Surface Pro. Yes, it was expensive, but the screen quality is fantastic and I really wasn’t keen on joining the iPad rat race. If you haven’t used one before then I strongly suggest that you take one for a test drive.
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Claire specializes in writing technical documentation and helpful articles for Small business websites and blogs. Claire has over 10 years’ experience working in the IT services sector.