Surface 2 – A Personal Experience Review

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13 Responses

  1. Mario says:

    You definitely had a lemon – Haven't any problems with my Surface 2. Surface RT feels much faster with Windows 8.1.

  2. SGAdmin says:

    Great writeup John. It sounds like you got a bad device or it had a software issue somewhere. Maybe a 8.1 refresh would have worked, maybe not. Regardless, that's not the experience Microsoft want's someone off the street to have. Surface 2 still has merit in many different situations for work and for play. It's such a young platform and hopefully will be growing up….soon.

  3. @jwiskowski says:

    I definitely saw issues outside what most buyers seemed to have experienced. Hopefully most are enjoying their new Surface 2s! I did start with a clean 8.1, and imported no settings or apps. But I should have tried a refresh. I am sure I will try another Surface device soon enough :)

    Some of my concerns were separate from the issues specific to my usage/device.

  4. David G says:

    I was disappointed with this article. I was hoping for a review. What I got was a long forum post.

    By review, I mean someone who tinkers with bleeding edge technology, figures out all the gotcha's and workarounds, and tells the rest of us in a way that saves us from that pain and time drain.

    This article didn't do that. It said …my paraphrase…"i tried it, had some problems, sent it back." While I'm sure that's true, that's not the helpful insight I was looking for. It still leaves me having to figure out on my own pretty much everything I had to figure out before I read the article.

    Just my $0.02.

  5. Andy says:

    What do you think is a better alternative? I think I read that you are sticking with your Surface RT. I just recently purchased a Surface 2 for a home that has kids that need flash based websites for schools. We have an ipad 2 which my wife has setup with her email and uses primary.

    A $450 laptop would have been just as good a device to purchase, however, I don't think at the same price point they would get the same battery life.

    With the surface 2 I am very impressed so far with Windows 8.1 as a tablet. There are now 6 personalized accounts on my surface 2, each with their own start screen and email.

    The keyboard is so nice that it actually makes you think you have a laptop more than a tablet. I think it would help if microsoft sold a very simple and cheaper cover blade that had no keyboard functionality but just protected the screen.

  6. Joe says:

    " In my opinion, the Surface RT offers a more stable experience than the Surface 2. The Surface 2 does not offer enough new features or improvements to justify upgrading."

    LOL! What the hell? My Surface 2 literally destroys my Surface RT in terms of performance, stability, usability, and even battery life.

  7. KDB says:

    John – really interesting write up. I follow your podcast, and have been anticipating your review. I am an attorney, and use my RT on a daily basis – of course, it is great for consumption, but allows me to get work done sporadically when I don't fell like lugging my 8 lb laptop home. Especially enjoy the new Outlook.

    I have also found that some the upgrades in 8.1 – specifically, Reader, are fantastic. I can put an entire file (2+GB) on a jump drive, plug it into the USB port, and take PDFs that are hundreds of pages long to a deposition. The Reader in W8 could not easily navigate large PDF's. THe updated Reader is great, and allows you to open multiple files.

    In short, I am loving the upgrade to 8.1, and have been contemplating whether I even want to upgrade to Surface 2. I have the touch cover, and really like it. But, I was contemplating the new Touch and Type covers ….. interesting that you took back the new Type cover as well. Did you consider keeping it? Maybe buying it once additional firmware updates are released?

  8. @dgg4 says:

    I did not find this article very useful. You had a bad experience…got that. Why? Answer that question would be helpful. Without that, not as useful as it could have been.

  9. Brian says:

    I returned my Surface 2 as well. It doesn't have flexibility of the Pro nor does it have the range of dedicated software available to the iPad or Android tablets. Just falls between 2 stools for me. Gave it a good thrashing. Really, really tried to like it, but just couldn't….

  10. @JimmyFal says:

    Tech reviews are of such a wide variety these days, that I pity the poor readers some times. Paul Thurrott was somewhat trashing the original Surface RT to such a degree, that he enthusiastically tells people NOT to buy it. Then Thurrott gets a Surface 2 and practically declares it a 180 degree experience from Surface 1, to such a degree that he now thinks that RT may have a future whereas on the Surface 1 he felt it was pointless.

    Your review is in such stark contrast. I was very surprised actually, especially after listening to your thoughts on Surface 1 on the podcast. It seems as though the keyboard freezing twice on you left an especially large impression on you. I guess twice is too much, but if it didn't happen again after that then maybe it was a quirk of the moment. Not sure I could judge a tablet by a couple of freezes, but the dongle issue was probably the deal breaker. That seems like an issue that would prevent you from getting any work done until it was fixed. When I look at the "reliability monitor" on my Surface, I can see that I have crashed Skype a couple of times, and Mail app etc. I guess when that happens, I just close it and open it, and then don't think about it too much after that. Annoying when it happens, for sure.

    I have both devices 1 and 2. I did side by side comparisons of launch times for apps etc. and didn't find the Surface 2 launch time to be dramatically better, but they were better. I am one of those folks that got 13.5 hours out of looping a movie on the Xbox Video app. I'm not sure I would try to talk the average user up from a 1 to a 2, maybe that bump is mostly for us enthusiasts, but I certainly would not try to talk someone out of a Surface 2 just because you had a couple of early on stability issues in the first week (only week?) of use.

    I value your opinion, love the podcast. I wish you had kept the unit for full return period, maybe you would have found a fix for the dongle issue. As you said, you have played with an awful lot of tablets and this one didn't pass the test. I am surprised though. The backlit keyboard, kickstand, low light performance of the camera, better camera, and the 200 GB of free SkyDrive storage were definitely enough for me. I'm sure different peoples different usage scenarios are responsible for varying degrees of acceptance.

    I wonder how long it will take Microsoft and Nokia to build the unified tablet device experience. Will they get it done in time for Surface 3? Will there be separate tablets? It would be nice to get all this done for fall of next year, that's probably, sadly, too soon though, we'll see.

  11. Cedric says:

    This review is unfair and borderline idiotic.
    -101 of IT & consumer electronics: if you need a device that works bug free from first minute never ever buy a brand new product. All new devices come with bugs. Yes even iPhone 5s, iOS 7 or iPad AIr. The only question to ask is: can I count on the manufacturer to work diligently to fix them? What is their history fixing them? In this regard the track record of Microsoft in generally industry leading.
    – If you don't like the trackpad don't use it. What's the fuss? On the other hand it's there when you really need it, such as in a crammed coach flight where you won't have enough room to use a mouse. In my opinion, with my medium sized hands the trackpad is ok and sure better than none.
    – The Type Cover 2 is outstanding. I have yet to see a better keyboard in the same size. The backlighting is wonderful, it is amazing that it senses when your hands are about to use it and already backlight. Given the choice, sure I would prefer to type on my full-sized mechanical keyboard, in the same way that I'd rather use my 30" monitor. Compared to its peers though it is in my opinion a solid choice. Btw I'm typing this post on a Surface 2 with Type Cover 2. My only regret is that to use F1-F12 you have to use Fn-F1. By default, the F1-12 keys have other uses such as configuring the screen luminosition. To me it would have been better the other way around, i.e. Fn + F3 = Mute.
    – I do not own a Surface RT but the Surface 2 is super super fast. I imported a 2GB+ outlook data file in no time. Skydrive files were copied before I had time to check them. A few minutes after having started the Music App it already listed the more than 6000 songs I have on my desktop and that were found in Xbox music.
    – Your review does not mention the 2 year 200 GB Skydrive and the 1 year Skype all you can eat. For a few intent on non using it this is a zero value. For the most of us this is a good to outstanding value.
    – I have absolutely none of the problems you mentioned. I bought the Surface 2 last week, did updates until there were none left.
    – Why did I buy it in the end? I think it is presently the best offering for someone needing web, email and office. There is no way you'll have a good experience working with Office on a very average HD screen whereas you have an outstanding FullHD display on the Surface 2. There is no way you will really use PhotoShop with 2GB of RAM. On the other hand, having very sound fundamentals such as great screen great keyboard, PhotoShop or Visual Studio is a remote desktop connection away.

    – What would I have liked. True pen support. I almost bought the Pro 2 because of its outstanding Wacom pen support. I am amazed though at the efficiency of character recognition on the S2 with basic capacitive pen: you write horrible words in OneNote and the Surface is still guessing what you wrote pretty will. It is perfectly useable.

    – Microsoft's biggest mistake if you ask me, is to make it difficult to use Desktop apps. Surface RT1 is true Windows: many desktop applications such as 7-zip or notepad++ are just a recompile away. And indeed it works. But you have to jailbreak the Surface. Just like with phones there should be a way to jailbreak the device on a permanent or long time basis.

    – But all in all so far I am extremely satisfied with the Surface 2. I can use it for an entire day. I can really work. I can really surf the web or watch movies. I can really multitask. The build quality is outstanding if a little heavy. The stand is super useful. The aesthetics is very pleasing to my eyes, it does not plastic. There won't be any better support for USB or multiple displays or good web browsing or multitasking on iOS and Android.

  12. @chriswong13 says:

    I pre-ordered the Touch 2, and agree that the trackpad is garbage, but for only one situation – dragging – to either move things around or to select text. It's very sporadic and inconsistent; it's like a bad joke. If I use two hands (one index finger to hold down the left button and the other index finger to drag), it's much better. I think this will be resolved once Microsoft releases an updated Trackpad Settings app that supports the Touch 2 and Type 2 keyboards, so I can disable tap-to-click gestures. It's also very Mickey Mouse that they couldn't time the release of an updated Trackpad Settings app with the launch of the new keyboards. Other than this one issue, it's a big improvement over Touch 1…

  13. Jack Cook says:

    I did enjoy your article. Thanks for putting in the time to make it a good piece.

    I have the RT and purchased the Surface 2 for my wife and the Surface Pro 2 for my self. I'm happy with the devices but my biggest issue is the battery life on the Surface 2 compared to the RT. I get a full day of serious work on the RT yet my wife gets just hours with the "2" and she just plays games, checks a few websites for news and sports and email of course.

    I'm not sure what is eating the battery so quickly on the "2" but I did turn off the auto screen adjust and set it to about 37% … that has made a difference. It is a faster processor and a seriously better screen so that may be some of the issue. Time will tell if they can improve on it.