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Microsoft's new Surface 2 tablet is a big leap forward vs Surface RT, but is it enough?

by Doug Drinkwater

October 23 2013

The early reviews of Microsoft's new Surface 2 rave about its excellent design, a superb screen and some useful accessories. Like the Surface RT it replaces, the relatively limited range of software for Surface 2 is an issue for some. Check out our review roundup.

“Microsoft’s Surface 2 turns the entire contents of my backpack into one device. It’s mostly a tablet, a light and slim device that’s great for reading, watching movies, or surfing the web,” writes David Pierce for The Verge.

“But when it’s business time, the Surface 2 steps up. With a keyboard attachment, a full version of Office, and everything else Windows 8.1 offers, it’s equally suited to watching Scandal and taking over the world.”


 “Arriving roughly a year after Microsoft’s first major foray into the consumer tablet market, the Surface 2 delivers on most of its promises,” says Lance Ulanoff for Mashable.

“It's marginally lighter and thinner than the original. It’s faster, though it’s hard to see that in action unless you play, say, a graphically intense game. It’s got great battery life and has a brilliantly sharp screen with some of the lowest reflectance I’ve seen on a tablet since the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7. So why don’t I love it?”


“The Microsoft Surface 2 is a marked improvement over the original Surface. It’s faster processor, increased battery life and dramatically improved screen make the Surface 2 a compelling option,” says Samuel Gibbs on The Guardian.

“The biggest problem with the Surface 2 is its operating system. Windows RT looks and operates like Windows but without access to the large legacy software library. The Windows Store has over 100,000 apps available, but many of those apps are poor imitations of their full desktop Windows counterparts.”


“In day to day use, Surface 2 evokes impressions I never had with Surface RT. It's snappy, fast even. Apps and the Office desktop applications open quickly and run well, with none of the pauses that exemplify its predecessor,” says acclaimed Windows blogger Paul Thurott on WinSuperSite.

“The dual-position kickstand isn't just useful, it's freeing, and while some will still complain that the magnetic-based connection between the device and its typing covers still makes it less than ideal for lap work, I think it works great.”


“Ultimately, for me, there’s a fine line here – all it would take is the launch of a slim, moderately specced convertible that runs a full version of Windows 8.1 and I’d be left wondering if I hadn’t made the wrong decision in buying a Surface 2,” argues The Next Web’s Ben Woods.


 “Who's going to buy this thing? Ah, there's the big question. If you've already made a substantial investment in either of the two dominant mobile platforms, iOS and Android, you're likely to find the Surface 2 and Windows RT 8.1 extremely limiting,” says ZDNet's Ed Bott, who does find improvements in the Outlook, Music and Video Windows RT apps.

“And if you've designed your workflow and your social life around popular independent online services, you will find the Surface 2 enormously frustrating. Ultimately, the real market for this device is people who need Microsoft Office and are comfortable with other Microsoft services like Exchange Online (Office 365), SkyDrive, Outlook.com, and Xbox Music and Video.”

(Worth reading: The 8 best accessories for Microsoft's new Surface 2 tablets & Microsoft veep hints at Surface Mini tablet)

Doug Drinkwater is the International Editor of TabTimes and is based in London, England.
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