Microsoft Sticks By The Surface… For Now

The Microsoft Surface Pro got great reviews. The Surface RT… not so much. Either way, they weren’t exactly hardware bulldozers: Microsoft’s hardware side, never that robust beyond the Xbox, actually shrank after the Surface came out. Nonetheless, Microsoft is giving it another go… so what’s under the hood?

First, the Surface RT is now the Surface 2, and has gotten an upgrade in processor to a Tegra 4. That means it’s between three and four times as fast as the last Surface, depending on your apps, and they’ve managed to extend battery life by 25%. The screen also gets an overhaul, to full HD 1080p.

The Surface Pro 2 is a welcome update to what was actually a very nice and cleverly designed tablet. It’s getting a processor bump, of course, to a Haswell Core i5, but mostly the tweaks are to the outside: Dolby sound now comes standard, the kickstand has two viewing angles, and the color reproduction has been improved. Graphics are 50% faster than the last iteration, and the battery life 75% longer.

Also, there are new accessories: The Power Cover, which is a sturdy-looking, backlit keyboard that snaps on, and an overhaul to the Type Cover, making it thinner. In short, it’s a lot of really good tech, but should you get it?

That depends on how you feel about working on tablets. The Surface Pro is undeniably a great computer; it had a few kinks to it that seem to have been worked out, but oddly so far only Microsoft has really managed to cram a laptop into a tablet form factor and have it not be a hideous monstrosity. That said, it’s priced like a laptop and “Pro” is not just marketing language; this really is designed to do work.

Probably the best way of handling it is to look at your needs. Windows 8.1 seems to address a lot of issues many had with Windows 8, for example. If you’re in the market for a laptop, and sick of juggling tablet and laptop, this might be your best bet.