Tech Review: Surface 2
It’s not often the team at Box Office Buz get to play with new toys but when we do, we run away with gay abandon, lock ourselves in a dark room and then hide away until we have to give the toy back.
First up is the Surface 2, a Windows 8 tablet that’s ready for business and personal use but it’s not quite there on the gaming part but that’s the Windows Stores fault, we’ll get to that later.
First up: The Tech Specs!
Windows RT 8.1 with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 RT versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook. Works exclusively with apps available in the Windows Store.
NVIDIA Tegra 4 (T40) 1.7GHz quad core
2 GB of RAM
10.6" ClearType Full HD display
1920 x 1080p
32 GB; 64 GB1
Up to 10 hours of video playback
7–15 days idle life
Cameras and A/V:
3.5MP front-facing camera
5MP rear-facing camera
1080p video capture
Stereo speakers (digitally enhanced for fuller sound)
Two microphones (with noise cancellation)
Full-size USB 3.0
MicroSDXC card reader
HD video out port
Mail, Calendar, People, Internet Explorer 11, Photos, Music, Video, Games, Skype, Fresh Paint, Calculator, Reading List, Reader, Scan, News, Weather, Sports, Travel, Finance, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, Help, Camera, SkyDrive, Sound Recorder and more
The Whole Truth:
I’ve lived with an iPad for so long now, that the only glimpse into the other side of tablets has been my Ultrabook from Lenovo which features Windows 8. Now with the Surface 2 I finally get to see if the grass really is greener and you know what? It kinda is.
While the processor held within the Surface 2 won’t allow you to download and install some of the more important apps like VLC Player or Steam for games, the tablet itself is fully competent at handling Microsoft Office for work, Comic Book readers for fun, films/TV shows for entertainment and a whole lot more besides. I loved my experience with the Surface 2, at first I thought that the screen size was going to play against me when it came to reading comics but despite a bit of space above and below the image, it works really well, however it’s gaming and film/TV where the Surface 2 excels.
I put this baby to the test with Netflix and all sorts of file types but be warned you will need to buy an app to watch MKV files. This tablet is one that makes the commute easy and bearable, with its lightweight and elongated frame, the distribution of weight makes the Surface 2 a dream to hold whether you’re watching a film, playing a game or reading. Having had an iPad for so long Surface 2 is as light as feather compared to that beast. It’s the same when it comes to using the Surface 2 around the house, the portability is just there and I used it so much more than I do my hefty iPad!
There are some issues though, one where the tablet is at fault and the other purely to do with Windows 8 and whoever is in charge of the store.
I found myself addicted to Game Dev Tycoon and after a couple of hours of play the tablet began to slow down before recovering its composure, it was kind of annoying but it was also a good indicator that I had been playing for far too long.
The other issue is Windows 8, while I love Windows products, Windows 8 on tablet can’t decide whether it wants to be ye olde windows with all inclusive Desktop function or a touch screen tablet device that has tiles and all sorts of other wonderful things for fans to play with. This week Microsoft announced that Windows platforms would become one system across all devices including Tablets, PC’s, Xbox and Windows Phones so this is obviously on their mind when it comes to developers.
This leads to the final issue, the Windows Store is in a dire state! The one thing that could shoot them into the stratosphere seems to be the one thing that completely lacks when it comes to apps and games. While the Android and iPhone stores are miles ahead in terms of games, apps and entertainment. The Windows Store is full to the brim of pay to play games, you download for free and find yourself locked behind a pay wall for the majority of games but then the apps you do want like Tell Tale games titles are missing completely. Where are the good fun apps?
Comic Books, videos and TV are all great for entertainment but the mobile gaming market is on the rise and to be so far behind at this stage of the game is unforgivable.
Overall though I do love the Surface 2 and its benefits outweigh the little niggles that hold it back as a fully integrated tablet. With a camera that makes Skype and Google chat a breeze this is a great piece of hardware to make the hours fly by! If you're looking for power check out Surface Pro or higher, there's a lot of fun to be had with Windows 8!