Sunday, 6 April 2014

Thoughts on the Surface 2 Pro

I've recently been lucky enough to get a Surface 2 Pro to play with - the top of the range 8GB RAM, 256GB storage version. I'd been looking at the Surface 2 for a while, wanting to see what Windows 8 is like on a small touch screen device - I still think the surface could go either way, it's not getting the traction of other mobile devices / platforms and Windows 8 is certainly not without it's critics. Over the past couple of years I've owned Android devices, iPhones and iPads, a windows 8 mobile and now the surface 2 Pro. I can still remember being impressed with the iPad as it just worked, everything you wanted it to do it did quickly and well. Similarly I was really impressed with the UI on the Windows phone - the battery life was a little bit disappointing and it was frustrating that you had to remember to shut down all the apps to maximise the battery but UI really liked the UI and it seemed to take the concept of exposing social updates for your contacts that Android started to a new level. The Surface 2 Pro has impressed me, but for other reasons. Obviously the "Pro" part means it will run desktop applications, and it does that well - Visual Studio 2013 starts up in under 3 seconds - many factors faster than the parallels VM running on my work MBP (and that has 16GB, plus SSD, etc.). The touch keyboard, whilst stupidly expensive, is great - back lit and tactile, has a trackpad too. A nice feature is if you swing the cover all the way round the keyboard switches itself off so you don't have to worry about pressing any keys whilst holding it. What I've really liked is the stylus and one-note; it's the closet thing I've come to replacing a pen and paper notebook in meetings; in fact I think once I get a little bit more used to it, it will eventually replace the notebook. Battery life has also been really good; easily getting 4 or more hours without having to worry about plugging it in. It can get a bit hot when doing processing work and when the fan kicks in; it's not as quiet as you'd expect a mobile device to be. Windows 8.1 works really nicely on the touch screen too, switching between touch and the keyboard is natural and easy. I'm writing this article with the device on my lap, the keyboard sits well and the kick stand keeps the screen at a nice angle; it's replacing the laptop when I just have something quick to do but needing a bit more power / typing that would be comfortable on an iPad / phone. Eventually I want to see about getting a wireless keyboard/mouse and hook it up to a monitor to see if it can replace a windows laptop completely.