There is a tall task ahead of the Microsoft Surface 2. The first generation of the Microsoft tablet arrived with much fanfare but had little success, and the newcomer has to entice new customers, proving along the way that Redmond can be a factor in the consumer tablet marketplace and, more importantly, that Windows RT has a future as a platform.
There is nothing revolutionary about the design of the Microsoft Surface 2. Save for the gray color scheme, which accentuates its body's magnesium finish, the tablet looks exactly the same as its predecessor. We were split in our feelings towards the design of the Microsoft Surface 2. While it is undoubtedly handsome, we do believe that even a mildly refreshed look would make the slate attract more attention. Owners of the first generation would have been particularly thankful for one.
The build quality of the Microsoft Surface 2 is nothing short of exceptional. The tablet is extremely well put together using metal for the body and Corning Gorilla Glass for protection of the screen. It looks and feels ready to tackle plenty of daily use and abuse. Thanks to its solid build quality and high-end finish, the Microsoft Surface 2 offers a pleasant tactile feel when handled. However, the slate is not the most comfortable to hold, particularly in portrait mode. This is due to its prominent edges they look good, but are the main reason for the questionable ergonomics.
At a quick glance, the Microsoft Surface 2 is a worthy successor of the original. It boasts beefed up specs and slightly improved ergonomics, while retaining the same signature design and dimensions, which have become a family staple. The same goes for its additional Touch and Type covers they offer better experience and ergonomics than their respective predecessors.
The biggest question mark hanging upon the Microsoft Surface 2 concerns its OS. Windows RT has been abandoned by most major players in the industry, with Microsoft and Nokia left as the only manufacturers to go forward making devices to boot the OS. As a result, developers are not exactly gushing over the prospect of creating cool apps for the platform, thus putting its very future in question. There is also the matter of the competition which the Microsoft Surface 2 has to face. In addition to a duo of brand new iPad models and a host of premium Android offerings, the tablet has to deal with a few lower-priced Intel-powered tablets running full Windows 8.1.
Microsoft Surface 2 comes with an OS update. Windows RT 8.1 is a notable improvement over its predecessor, which includes welcome UI tweaks, better integration of Microsoft services, as well as a broader choice of third-party apps compared to a year ago. In addition to the updated OS, the Surface 2 comes packed with some seriously capable hardware, including an NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC, a 10.6" FullHD display, a 5MP camera, and a long list of connectivity and storage expansion options. Here goes its full list of talents.
The tablet's measures are 274.6 x 172.5 x 8.9 mm, while its weight tips the scale at the rather hefty 675.9 grams. The aforementioned numbers make the tablet one of the bulkiest 10" offerings around, especially when compared to the iPad Air and the latest Android tablets. The screen bezel is simply enormous by today's high-end standards.
Overall, the Microsoft Surface 2 deserves nothing but high marks for its build quality and battery life. Its design could have certainly used a refresh though the tablet does not feel new at first glance. The tablet only ergonomics are also a little uncertain.