There is a tall task ahead of the Microsoft Surface 2. The first generation of the Microsoft tablet arrived with much fanfare but had little success, and the newcomer has to entice new customers, proving along the way that Redmond can be a factor in the consumer tablet marketplace and, more importantly, that Windows RT has a future as a platform.
To make a case for itself, the Microsoft Surface 2 comes with an OS update. Windows RT 8.1 is a notable improvement over its predecessor, which includes welcome UI tweaks, better integration of Microsoft services, as well as a broader choice of third-party apps compared to a year ago.
In addition to the updated OS, the Surface 2 comes packed with some seriously capable hardware, including an NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC, a 10.6" FullHD display, a 5MP camera, and a long list of connectivity and storage expansion options. Here goes its full list of talents.
At a quick glance, the Microsoft Surface 2 is a worthy successor of the original. It boasts beefed up specs and slightly improved ergonomics, while retaining the same signature design and dimensions, which have become a family staple. The same goes for its additional Touch and Type covers - they offer better experience and ergonomics than their respective predecessors.
The biggest question mark hanging upon the Microsoft Surface 2 concerns its OS. Windows RT has been abandoned by most major players in the industry, with Microsoft and Nokia left as the only manufacturers to go forward making devices to boot the OS. As a result, developers aren't exactly gushing over the prospect of creating cool apps for the platform, thus putting its very future in question.
There is also the matter of the competition which the Microsoft Surface 2 has to face. In addition to a duo of brand new iPad models and a host of premium Android offerings, the tablet has to deal with a few lower-priced Intel-powered tablets running full Windows 8.1.
We will kick off our Surface 2 review with the usual unboxing session, followed by a look at the design and build. Read on to find out what Microsoft's latest and greatest slate looks and feels like in the flesh!
Editorial: You might notice that this review is shorter than usual and doesn't include some of our proprietary tests. The reason is it has been prepared and written far away from our home office and test lab. Still, we think we've captured the essence of the device in the same precise, informative and detailed way that's become our trademark. Enjoy the good read!