Microsoft Surface Pro 2 review
10.6 in 1,920x1,080 display, 900g, 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, 4.00GB RAM, 64GB disk, Windows 8.1 Pro
The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is no longer Microsoft's flagship Surface Pro tablet – that honour goes to the forthcoming Surface Pro 3 that's due to launch at the end of August – but Microsoft has now confirmed that the Surface Pro 2 will be receiving a long overdue price cut across all four models in the months leading up to the Pro 3's launch date, making it better value than ever before.
All models come with one of Intel's fourth-generation Core i5 processors, but the 64GB version will now cost £569 (down from £719) while the 128GB and 256GB versions will cost £649 and £879 respectively (down from £799 and £1,039). The 512GB version has also had £150 shaved off its original price of £1,439 and will now cost £1,279. Sadly, buying one of Microsoft's Touch or Type keyboard covers will still set you back £100 or £110, minimising just how much you're actually saving if you want to be able to use the Pro 2 as a laptop. Still, the 128GB version on its own is still £200 cheaper than the Surface Pro 3's Core i5 equivalent, and that doesn't come with a Touch or Type cover either.
With these new prices, the Surface Pro 2 is still a good buy if you're looking for a powerful Windows tablet. It runs the full 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 Pro and weighs a mere 900g. That's a little lighter than its predecessor, but the tablet's sleek gunmetal grey magnesium chassis is still a slim 13.5mm thick and has the same soft-touch texture on the back panel. The ports haven't changed either, as you still get a single USB3 port, a micro SDXC card reader, a mini DisplayPort for connecting the Surface Pro 2 to an external display and a combined headphone and microphone jack.
The integrated kickstand also makes a welcome return. Like the Surface Pro, it flips out from the back panel to support the tablet when you want to prop it up on a table, but now it has two different positions instead of one. These angles are still fixed, so it's not completely height-adjustable, but it certainly makes working on the Pro 2 more comfortable.
The 10.6in touchscreen is beautiful to look at with its wide viewing angles, but the edge-to-edge glass display now feels even smoother to the touch. The Pro 2’s 1,920x1,080 resolution can make it a little fiddly to tap small icons and internet tabs, but most of the time we had no problem at all opening individual files in Windows Explorer. Certain tasks such as using the scroll bar were more problematic, as it often completely failed to register our touch no matter where we put our finger on the screen.
Luckily, the Pro 2 also comes with a Surface Pen to make interacting with the screen that bit easier. It works much like other drawing tablet pens and the screen will sense it even when it’s 2cm away. We found it a little difficult to use with the original Surface Pro unless it was lying flat on our work surface, but the Pro 2’s wider kickstand angle now makes it much more comfortable to use when the tablet’s propped up in laptop mode.
The pen is much more precise than using your fingers, but the accuracy of its sensor still isn’t completely perfect. Like the Surface Pen that came with the Surface Pro, we experienced a few tracking issues when we held the pen at an angle near the top corners of the screen. Unless we held the pen perpendicular to the display, the sensor would run away from our pen into the corners of the screen, making closing and minimising windows a little tricky. We didn’t experience this problem anywhere else on the screen, but it was a little disappointing to see this hasn’t been fixed yet.
The Surface Pro 2's image quality was excellent. Blacks weren't quite as deep as its bezel, but we can hardly complain when our colour calibrator recorded a superb black level reading of just 0.12cd/m². Whites were also bright and clean, and reds, greens and blues all popped out of the screen. This was surprising, as our colour calibrator revealed it was displaying just 62.8 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut, which is fairly average for a laptop-tablet panel.
This didn't make too much of a difference in our high contrast test photos, as each image looked fantastic. We recorded a high contrast ratio of 982:1 and we were able to pick out all the fine shadow detail in the darker areas of our images with ease. The screen's glossy finish didn't create too many reflections either thanks to its built-in ambient light sensor which automatically reduces the amount of glare onscreen based on your surroundings.