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Surface Pro 2 Week 1

Published 10/31/2013 by createdbyx in News

So I received my Surface Pro 2 on October 25, 2013 and have been using it as my main machine this last week. Having never owned or even used a tablet before it has only been a slightly interesting experience as I am not one to get excited about such things.

Frankly the most immediate drawback to the tablet was running desktop software that has no touch support IE: Unity3D editor. It is making me realize that as a software developer I need to be making an extra effort thinking about touch integration. I was one of those people who really does not like the new windows 8 metro interface integration. As a developer I understand the reasons for it but even a year later it still has that meh feel to it.

It’s only now that I have been using a tablet this last week that I am actually beginning to conceptually understand the reasons for it moving forward. On the desktop metro does not make sense, when using a tablet the windows desktop does not make any sense. There is this incompatible duality about it, but all in all it kind of works, but it still feels like it could use some more finesse.

But getting back to the Surface Pro 2 I knew what I wanted out of a tablet

  • Pen/stylus for drawing sketches, note taking, making pixel art, sculpting in a 3D app etc
  • Decent battery life
  • Minimum 1080p display resolution
  • Full windows 8 pro experience so I could run all my applications and developer tools etc
  • Reasonable performance
  • Something in my price range IE: $1000+/-
  • It had to be able to at least play games like Skyrim at playable graphics settings
  • Minimum 8gb ram and 256gb ssd
  • Some sort of stand

After having looked around at a number of tablets Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 was really the only logical choice. It has all the features I was looking for in a tablet aside from a replaceable battery, and no keyboard. I am holding off getting a keyboard until 2014, so that I can get a power cover that will further extend the battery life. Again the power cover keyboard is a ridiculous price at $200.

I do want to mention a few things about the marketing for the surface pro offerings. The way that they talk about the kickstand and the sound it makes like it’s the most coolest thing ever. It does not help the brand it hurts it. It’s a kickstand, so long as it does it’s job there is nothing more to say about it. They should be focusing on how it can be a desktop replacement for a lot of casual pc users. They should be touting it’s battery life etc. and not trying to make something trivial more then what it is. It cheapens the product.

Another thing I like about it is the fact that I no longer have to position it on my lap in such a way so it will not block any fans. Often times the air intake, and exhausts on laptops are poorly placed such that by placing them on your lap your legs block the air intake. The fan noise is not even audible, and even after playing a game the fan noise is still very quiet.

Lenovo has a new Yoga 2 Pro with similar specs but much higher screen resolution and better battery life but at the expense of being a bit heaver. With the 10.6in screen on the surface pro 2 and 1080p resolution individual pixels are just barely visible with 100% scaling. So I really don’t understand the purpose of higher resolution displays being used on small 13in screen sizes and under. More pixels means more processing and that actually hurts battery life, and frankly it really is unnecessary.

A funny thing just happened as I was writing this post, I got a BSOD message with a DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION code. That’s the first time in many years probably since windows xp that I have experienced a bsod error. It happened while I was watching a flash video in internet explorer.

What I don’t like about the surface pro 2

  1. No replaceable battery. My laptop lasted me 7+ years but it’s battery no longer holds a charge. This is my single biggest concern.
  2. No replaceable ssd. With ssd capacities growing and prices getting cheaper being able to upgrade after 5+ years would be nice, 1080p, 2k & 4k video take up a hell of a lot of room
  3. Built in obsolescence aka 12 month release cycles & glued together components etc
  4. Only 8gb of ram is not enough when you are running 4 instance of visual studio, 3 instances of unity, a dozen browser tabs etc. It sounds a bit extreme but my desktop has 3 monitors and I work with multiple related coding projects at the same time
  5. Does not come with a keyboard and the keyboard prices are rather ridiculous
  6. Even with the 2 position kickstand it still does not quite sit at the right viewing angle on your lap
  7. No place to attach the pen when the power is plugged in. A place at the top of the tablet would have been nice, or better yet a hole in the tablet that you could insert the pen into like the Nintendo 3DS
  8. No magnetic lock on the keyboards when closed to prevent them from flapping open unintentionally
  9. The fear that one day I am going to break off the kickstand.
  10. Poor placement of the magnetic power coupling. I wish it were higher up along the side of the device closer to the top. The reason for this is because of the constant bend in the power cable. Over time I think there is a small chance it could wear out and have broken or kinked wires inside.
  11. The front facing camera could be pointed down just a few degrees to get a better head shot. Often my chin gets cropped off and I need to reposition the tablet when being used on my lap or lying back in bed. The alternative is to have a much higher resolution camera with a larger FOV.
  12. You can’t open it up to clean out any dust that has accumulated. As the years go by more and more fine dust will build up internally so my concern is that you may see a performance hit over the years because of poor ventilation. You could use a can of air to spray it out but given the size of the gap I’m concerned any large dust bunnies could get wedged in even further

What I would like to see in future surface pro hardware

  • Dedicated graphics hardware
  • At least 2 usb 3 ports
  • A replaceable battery/ssd
  • Slightly larger screen size offerings still at 1080 resolution
  • 32gb ram to help future proof the hardware and offer space for super speed ram drives
  • More sensors
  • DisplayPort in so you can use your tablet as a extra touch screen monitor
  • Kinect camera integration
  • A AMD based sku
  • Magnetic lock on the keyboard to make it stay securely attached to the screen when closed and used as a screen cover.

I believe with these few extra features (even without kinect camera integration) the surface pro line of tablets could be poised to take a dominant share of the tablet market. They have everything going for them but Microsoft being who they are will probably fail to capitalize on it. Stay tuned for further updates about my experience with the surface pro 2.

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Created by: X

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Name of author Dean Lunz (aka Created by: X)
Computer programming nerd, and tech geek.
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