The
Microsoft Surface 2 line of devices was released in October of 2013. I purchased a Surface Pro 2 with 64 GB of storage, and
so far, the experience has been interesting. I’m not completely sure that I’m sold on the device yet, but it does have some nice features.

 What we know

  • Total disk space: 64GB | 128 GB | 256
    GB | 512 GB
  • Available disk space: 36 GB in the 64 GB
    model | 89 GB in the 128 GB model
  • RAM: 4 GB (in the 64 and 128 GB models) |
    8 GB (in the 256 and 512 GB models)
  • OS: Windows 8.1 Pro is installed and
    able to run any Windows 8 compatible applications, not just the apps from the
    Windows Store
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi (b/g/n)-only, which
    is a tad depressing given the portability of the device, but most places do
    have Wi-Fi available (this makes it more tolerable)
  • Bluetooth: The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 support Bluetooth 4.0 low energy technology
  • Screen size: 10.6″, which is a bit
    odd (it’s wider than the iPad in
    landscape mode, but not as tall — and it does use 16:9 aspect ratio)
  • Screen resolution: 1920×1080
  • TPM chip support: Yes, TPM is present
    in the Surface Pro 2
  • BitLocker: The Surface Pro 2 supports Bit Locker encryption; and new in Windows 8/8.1, it can encrypt used
    disk space, which speeds the overall setup time
  • Battery: Out-of-the-box, the battery life showed up as 2 hours remaining, and that was fairly accurate; the battery charges in 2-3
    hours, and once it’s fully charged, the listed idle life is 7-15 days; and finally, during normal use, the
    battery seems to keep a charge for quite some time (after 4 hours use, unplugged, the stated remaining time was just under 5 hours)
  • Kickstand: The Surface 2 and Surface Pro  include a multi-position kickstand to hold the device upright when it’s on a
    table; the addition of a lower position
    makes the device easier to use with a keyboard
  • Storage: Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 can support external micro SDXC card storage to expand the amount of local
    storage available
  • USB: Surface devices also support a
    full-size USB 3.0 port for connectivity to external storage, external mice or
    presenters, and other peripherals
  • Stylus: The Surface Pro 2 includes the
    Surface Pen, which is a touch sensitive stylus; when not in use, the pen can clip into the charging port for easy
    storage

Is the Surface Pro 2 a tablet or a laptop? I think the
Surface Pro 2 is a combination between the two devices. With
optional accessories, it’s a fairly solid laptop, and the touchscreen makes it
a tablet. I found a Bluetooth keyboard
to be very handy with the device, but for use in a meeting, the stylus was
usable. This device seems to be built
for the moderate power user who wants a tablet.

Is the Surface Pro 2 an everyday full-time
laptop? 
This answer depends on your workload. It certainly
could be, but the limitations here come with disk space more than anything
else. Pairing the device with a SkyDrive
account would be the optimal way to manage the storage limitations.

Can I get more disk space by messing with
the recovery partition? 
Many of the
complaints I’ve seen with the Surface center around the amount of storage
Microsoft allocated to the recovery partition. This is “just in case” storage, which makes resetting the OS to
factory and even complete recovery easier and somewhat faster. Doing this costs disk space, but there’s a
way to move the recovery partition to external USB storage. Since the Surface Pro 2 supports a USB port,
this might be a great option for the recovery partition. To make this move, complete the following
steps:

  1. Plug the Surface Pro 2 into a power source
  2. Plug a USB drive into the Surface
  3. From the charms bar, search for
    recovery
  4. Select Create a recovery drive
  5. When a drive is selected, all data on
    the disk will be erased when the recovery files are copied
  6. Click the Delete Recovery Partition
    link if the recovery partition data should be removed from the Surface
  7. Click the Delete button to remove the
    partition
  8. Click Finish

Note: If the
recovery partition is deleted from the surface, the USB disk will be required
to refresh or reset the Surface. It’s also recommended that no other data be
stored on the disk with the recovery information.

Are there any perks included with the cost
of entry for the Surface Pro 2? 
At launch, Microsoft is offering 200 GB of SkyDrive storage for 2 years (renewable at $100
following that) and Unlimited Skype World (including Wi-Fi) for 12 months.

How is the overall performance of the
device? 
The i5
Intel chip is a great addition to the Surface Pro 2, and it definitely moves it more in the
direction of a laptop. I haven’t found
the device to be slow (OneNote is quite snappy), but then again, it’s brand new and still
a downgrade from my normal laptop.

Are there any annoyances with accessories? I had a bit
of trouble keeping the Wedge Mouse and Keyboard active when returning to the
Surface from out of range. The mouse
would show as connected but not available. Later, I found 11 updates, including a firmware update for
the device, and they appear to have fixed the issue.

Does Windows 8.1 perform well on the
device? 
Windows
performs very well with out-of-the-box applications, and I haven’t noticed
anything in terms of lag or lacking functionality. All of the features in Windows 8.1 Pro are
available on the Surface Pro 2.

How is the camera on the device (front and
rear)? 
The rear
camera is passable. It takes photos, but I would not suggest that this device
replace a smartphone camera. The front
camera is also decent, but given technology advancements in mobile device
cameras, I think both could be better, especially given the cost of entry for
the Surface Pro 2. This would have been
the place for Microsoft to consider using the Nokia Lumia 1020 camera… not that
anyone needs a 41 MP camera in a tablet.

What is the best feature so far? I’m not
completely sure what my favorite Surface-specific feature is.  The ability of Windows 8 to snap things
together to work side-by-side is very solid and helpful when working on
notes. The fact that there was less lag
than on other tablets I’ve tried is a great improvement as well (although
that could be due to my typing skills).

What apps have you tried on the Surface Pro 2,
and what are your thoughts? 
I’ve been
sticking with the standard/included apps so far to get an idea of how the
device performs out-of-the-box. OneNote is outstanding on the Surface. Since the application was completely
redesigned to live in a touch-enabled world (as opposed to being
“included” as an afterthought), it really is a great experience. 

What feature(s) are you most excited about or interested in on the Surface Pro 2? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.