While Microsoft may have a harder argument to make in convincing current tablet users and first-time tablet buyers to purchase the Surface 2 over a competing Android device or iPad, the Surface Pro 2 has everything going for it except perhaps price. But even on straight price comparison with a comparable laptop, Ultrabook or MacBook Air, I can’t help but see all of the personal advantages that the Surface Pro 2 offers me. Your mileage may vary.
First, here are some technical points to consider:
Dimensions and Weight: The Surface Pro 2 measures at 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches and weighs in at 2 pounds. As a tablet, this is not the lightest device around. Furthermore, the Type Cover I plan on getting with the device will probably add considerable heft, but it’s lighter than most laptops and provides more functionality than other tablets.
Operating System: The Surface Pro 2 is running the full version of Windows 8.1, not the RT version, which means that any full application that a desktop PC with Windows 8.1 can run, the Surface Pro 2 can run, hardware internals being equal, of course. There’s no need to run the “app” version of any program when you can run the full application.
Display: The 1920 x 1080 full HD display means images and videos will look outstanding. Various tech sites are reporting that color representation has been improved over the original Surface Pro as well. The 10.6-inch screen might be on the small side for reading text at native resolution all day, but I don’t plan on making this device my primary machine.
CPU, Storage and Memory: A 4th generation (Haswell) Intel Core i5 Processor is the brains behind this operation, and is also responsible for increased battery life. Though how much of an improvement over the previous Surface Pro’s reported 4 hours is yet to be seen. Storage comes in a variety of SSD options: 64, 128, 256 and 512GB. The two lower end options get 4GB of RAM while the high end options get 8GB.
Ports: The Surface Pro 2 also offers a full-size USB3.0 port, a microSDXC card reader and mini-DisplayPort.
Touch and Stylus: Finally, the screen offers 10-point multi-touch and pressure sensitivity with the included Surface Pen.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of features, mind you; there are front- and rear-facing cameras, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and more, but I just wanted to address the aspects that make the Surface Pro 2 so compatible with my lifestyle.
After my day at Newegg winds down, my night covering the entertainment industry is just starting. As a journalist who has to attend different events, including press junkets, red carpets, gifting lounges, movie screenings and more, I have to lug around a bit of equipment wherever I go just to ensure I’m prepared. Any way I can lighten my load is always welcome. At two pounds and change, the Surface Pro 2 won’t add too much to my gear and fits in my messenger bag while still offering much more power than the cheap netbook I’m currently using. With a Core i5 and a usable resolution, it’s nice to know that I can get some real work done during downtime (celebrities refuse to show up on time) without having to drag along my bulky laptop.
Storage isn’t too much of an issue since I always have an external drive on me that I can attach at any time via USB. And I can always pack my entertainment media onto a microSDXC and keep that in the card reader whenever I feel like listening to music. I’m not planning on making this a gaming machine so there won’t be that many programs I need to install, but I’ll probably still shell out for the 128GB model just the same.
What really interests me, however, is the Surface Pen and the ability to reliably handwrite and draw on the Surface Pro 2. There are a lot of situations where I prefer to take notes when I’m on assignment. Sometimes I’m touring a set and want to jot notes. Sometimes there just isn’t a place to sit down. I’d typically pull out a reliable pen and notepad, but those are just a few more things to carry and then I’d have to transcribe those notes into a digital format instead of using something like Evernote the first time. There are, of course, alternatives here. I could just pull out my phone and thumb some notes to myself, but it isn’t the same as being able to scribble my shorthand, draw arrows to connect ideas and doodle faces to keep myself entertained.
Plus, texting notes into your phone just doesn’t look good when you’re interviewing someone.
The only hesitation I have is the price. The price of admission for the cheap seats starts at $899, and that gets you 64GB (less than half will probably be available to the user) and no cover, which is half the innovation of the Surface since the covers offer the cool keyboards, which are backlit this time around. A cover, depending on the model, adds over $100 to the price tag. Since I’m eyeing the 128GB model ($999) and thinking of getting a Power Cover (Type Cover with an integrated battery to charge the Surface, $139), that puts me in the $1200 range.
I’m still leaning towards picking one up this holiday season or after the New Year, but if Microsoft tossed in a Type Cover or Power Cover for free, this would be a done deal.
Not interested in the Microsoft Surface? Here are some alternatives: