Final Words

Surface 2 is a big step forward compared to Surface RT. The chassis looks awesome, the device is significantly quicker and battery life is appreciably better. The new display is much better than its predecessor (and so much better than what you get from most $449 PCs). The new touch/type covers see similarly major improvements. Surface 2 also benefits from the update to Windows RT 8.1, giving it a far more polished OS than what launched a year ago. The overall package is just a lot better than it was last year.

Unfortunately, Surface 2 faces the same struggles as its predecessor – primarily around the limited use of Windows RT. You’ll still get a better third party app experience on Android or iOS. The good news is that Microsoft’s first party apps are much better with 8.1. With Surface 2 Microsoft offers a potentially more productive environment courtesy of Windows RT 8.1’s ability to display two windows at once, not to mention the benefits of having an integrated kickstand and cover options that double as excellent keyboards. Finally there’s the benefit of having Office RT 2013 on the device as well. I can't stress just how much more productive you can be on Surface than any other 10-inch tablet. The only issue with Surface 2 is that productivity is limited to Office 2013 and a smaller list of applications compared to Surface Pro 2.

It’s definitely a tough sell for the majority of the ARM based tablet market. I feel like at a lower price (and/or with a cover thrown in as part of the bundle) Surface 2 would have a much easier time attracting more than a niche. I can’t help but draw comparisons between Surface 2 and a modern day Chromebook. Both are limited in the sort of applications they can run, but whether or not they are suitable for you depends on how valuable Google/Microsoft browsers and services are to you. Surface 2 can be a fine recommendation – if the price is right. I’d love to see Surface 2 with type cover retail for $399, I feel like at that price point it’d be at least a competitive sell.

I really like everything about Surface 2 as a physical device. The chassis, the weight, the kickstand, the feel, everything. The software/services side of the story needs work, and until it gets there that puts a good amount of pricing pressure on Microsoft – at least if it wants broad adoption. There is an alternative solution to this entire problem however. I can’t help but feel like if Microsoft threw Intel’s Bay Trail in the Surface 2 chassis that a number of users might come to a completely different conclusion about the device. When we first posted about ASUS’ T100, common feedback was that users would be willing to pay more for an even better device. A Bay Trail Surface 2 could’ve been that device.

Battery Life & Software
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  • sri_tech - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    What Google services you think are better than Microsoft services? I don't understand the fascination towards these chromebooks.

    1. Google docs are wannabe MS Office which does not have the most of the functionality and not compatible with many peripherals.

    2. Outlook.com is very good email client and in addition Outlook for work related things.
    Can't you access the gmail from browser? If you need app for everything what is the point of all the browser tests that you guys do in every review.
    You can pin the gmail.com to the start screen and with just a tap, you will be in gmail. That is how everyone using them on laptops right?

    3. Skydrive is very good and has all the features and more cross platform than Google drive.

    4. Skype is integrated into the OS which is more widely used than any Google equivalent.

    5. Can you use chromebooks as tablets? Does chromebooks have touchscreens?

    6. All the bing apps like news, finance, travel, weather are not useful?

    I expect better from you guys.
    Reply
  • noeldillabough - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    I have a huge problem with skydrive; although this might not apply to these tablets, but if you want to use it you must log in with your Microsoft account. If you're on a domain and login with your domain credentials and click on skydrive in 8.1, it prompts you to switch to a connected account.

    Unfortunately this renders Skydrive completely useless. I'd be fine if I could add my Microsoft account in and still log in with the domain account but you can't anymore. Maybe an oversight.
    Reply
  • sri_tech - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    A Microsoft service needs Microsoft account. So does all other services from all companies.

    I don't understand your second point.
    Reply
  • noeldillabough - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    The issue is in windows 8 you could enter your Microsoft account information for SkyDrive without having to switch your login account to a connected account. Now its forced and if you have a corporate device logging in with your Microsoft account won't be allowed. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Yep. Microsoft has ironically killed support for Skydrive on Windows 8.1. Reply
  • dustwalker13 - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    yes it is a bit annoying that you can not change the account, since it has been integrated so deeply with the system now. but actually i do not mind all that much. what it means in the end is that my own devices are synced with my account, and should i need data from another account i can:

    1. share them and access them this way
    2. login to the other account via the browser

    so actually that is a nonexistant problem once you think about it and a logical solution for microsoft as they save all the important settings on skydrive for your devices and thererfor of course want you to be connected to your account at least on that level.
    Reply
  • althaz - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    His issue (mine as well) is that when you are at work, your domain account should automatically count as a Microsoft account. I don't want to login with my home MS account to do work stuff, that would a) jumble my shit together and b) not make sense. Currently I get around it by having a second microsoft account, but that's a super-long way away from ideal. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    If you're on a domain it means business and the business should ALSO provide you with the Outlook.com account. At no point should you realistically be using YOUR OWN personal account on the business machine. Reply
  • cjb110 - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Yea, at most you should be able to share (given your security guys allows you) your business data with external untrusted accounts (which your personal one is). Reply
  • FredyHandanovic - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    My Uncle Andrew just got a nearly new red Mazda MAZDA6 Sedan by work part-time using a lap-top. look at here now http://goo.gl/dXg26D Reply

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