Microsoft Surface 2 review: Sink or swim

GSMArena team, 29 November 2013.
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Basic retail package

The Microsoft Surface 2 ships in a relatively modest retail box. Inside, you will find the slate, a charger, as well as some booklets.

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A look at the proprietary Surface 2 charger

A Touch or Type cover would have certainly been a welcome sight inside the retail package of the Surface 2. Users who would like to get them, will need to spend an additional $119.99 on the Touch cover, and $129.99 for the Type cover.

Type Cover 2

Alongside the Surface 2, we also got to test out the optional Type Cover 2. The optional accessory offers a full-blown backlit keyboard / magnetic screen cover.

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A closer look at the Type Cover 2

The keyboard attaches firmly to the Surface 2 via a magnetic mechanism on the tablet's bottom. That, combined with the two-stage kickstand, transforms the slate into a lightweight laptop.

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The attachment mechanism works like a charm

The Type Cover 2 keys are well-proportioned and offer great tactile feel. The touchpad on the other hand, is nowhere nearly as good, though considering the touchscreen on hand, we don't think it will see much action.

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The touchpad

Our biggest complaint about the Type Cover 2 is related to its price. At $129.99, it adds significantly to the bottom line of the Surface 2.

We reckon that the Type Cover 2 is more capable than its Touch Cover 2 sibling and therefore worth the extra $10 in retail pricing. It offers actual keys, as opposed to the Touch Cover 2, thus requiring practically no time to get used to.

Design and build quality

There is nothing revolutionary about the design of the Microsoft Surface 2. Save for the gray color scheme, which accentuates its body's magnesium finish, the tablet looks exactly the same as its predecessor.

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The Surface 2 sports the same looks as its predecessor

We were split in our feelings towards the design of the Microsoft Surface 2. While it is undoubtedly handsome, we do believe that even a mildly refreshed look would make the slate attract more attention. Owners of the first generation would have been particularly thankful for one.

We admit, the build quality of the Microsoft Surface 2 is nothing short of exceptional. The tablet is extremely well put together using metal for the body and Corning Gorilla Glass for protection of the screen. It looks and feels ready to tackle plenty of daily use and abuse.

The tablet's measures are 274.6 x 172.5 x 8.9 mm, while its weight tips the scale at the rather hefty 675.9 grams. The aforementioned numbers make the tablet one of the bulkiest 10" offerings around, especially when compared to the iPad Air and the latest Android tablets. The screen bezel is simply enormous by today's high-end standards.

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Surface 2 sized up against the iPad Air

Display

The Microsoft Surface 2 sports a 10.6" ClearType display of FullHD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) and pixel density of 208ppi. The screen is a massive improvement over the unit of last year's Surface RT in terms of resolution, thus decidedly better to look at.

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The Surface 2 sports a quality display

The contrast and viewing angles of the screen are quite good, as is its outdoor visibility. In short, the display of the Microsoft Surface 2 is a fine unit to live with on a daily basis.

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A closer look at the display

One shortcoming of the device's display that we couldn't overlook is its relatively low resolution for a top-end tablet. The iPad Air and the latest crop of high-end Android tablets offer a lot more pixels for the money, thus significantly better image sharpness.

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