Now cheaper than ever, the Surface Pro 2 remains the king of Windows 8 tablets
10.6 in 1,920×1,080 display, 900g, 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, 4.00GB RAM, 64GB disk, Windows 8.1 Pro
Inside, the Surface Pro 2 has one of Intel’s latest Haswell laptop processors, making it significantly more powerful than a regular Atom-based Windows 8 tablet. Its 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U processor is the same model that powers the Ultimate award-winning Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus laptop, and paired with 4GB of RAM, it scored a highly respectable 47 overall in our multimedia benchmarks. The Ivy Bridge-based Surface Pro scored 44, so it’s not a huge increase in processing power, but this is still incredibly powerful for a tablet.
Haswell’s improved integrated graphics also make the Surface Pro 2 a very capable gaming tablet. You’ll need to invest in a keyboard to play most games, but its Intel HD Graphics 4400 chip powered through our Dirt Showdown test with a smooth 24.4fps on High quality at 1,280×720. This isn’t quite fast enough to play 3D games at a comfortable speed, but we were able to get a much more respectable 43.1fps on Low quality. This is outstanding for a tablet, and we even broke through 38fps at its native 1,920×1,080 resolution on Low quality when we disabled the anti-aliasing.
All this power doesn’t come at the cost of battery life as we managed a huge 11 hours and 51 minutes in our light use laptop battery test with the screen set to half brightness. This is more than double the amount of battery life we managed with the original Surface Pro and it even beats a current fourth generation iPad.
Much like the original Surface Pro, the Surface Pro 2 doesn’t come with any bundled software. The Surface RT’s successor, the Surface 2, comes with Microsoft Office 2013 RT pre-installed, but that device’s Windows RT OS won’t let you install applications except those from the Windows Store. Some sort of provision of Microsoft Office 2013 on the Surface Pro 2 would have gone a long way in making its price a little more palatable, but overall we’d rather have the flexibility to install our own software.
There’s no bundled keyboard either, so you’ll have to factor in the added cost of a keyboard cover if you don’t already have one. The Surface Pro 2 uses the same keyboard covers as the Surface Pro, with a choice of Touch (£100) and Type (£110) covers, but Microsoft has also released new backlit Touch and Type covers to accompany the launch of the Pro 2.
We tried out the Touch Cover 2, which has lightly embossed touch-sensitive pads on a soft textured base. Initially, it still feels like you’re typing on cardboard, but once you get used to it you’ll be typing at near full speed in no time. The new illuminated backlight is also a nice addition, especially given that the practically silent nature of the keyboard is often a boon when working late or on a flight, but we’d still recommend buying the Type Cover (with its modicum of feedback) if you plan to do a lot of word processing.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is a huge improvement over its predecessor and it remains the best Windows 8 tablet around. It may be being replaced with the Surface Pro 3 in just a few months, but Microsoft’s latest price cut is a welcome incentive to get one before it disappears completely. Microsoft hasn’t yet confirmed the exact type of processor that will be used in the Surface Pro 3, but we do know it will be a Haswell chip, so it’s unlikely that the Core i5 version of the Pro 3 will offer any major boost in processing power than what’s currently available in the Pro 2. Likewise, considering most modern Ultrabook convertibles still cost in excess of £1,000, the Surface Pro 2 is now even cheaper and more convenient than many of its hybrid rivals. If you want a great-looking tablet with the speed and power of a laptop, make sure you get a Surface Pro 2 before it’s too late.
|Intel Core i5-4200U
|Processor clock speed
|Memory slots free
|Realtek HD Audio
|Intel HD Graphics 4400
|Total storage capacity
|Optical drive type
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PC Card slots
|Supported memory cards
|Windows 8.1 Pro
|Operating system restore option
|one year RTB