CNET First Look
The Microsoft Surface 2 gets a nice upgrade, but is held back by the Windows StoreThe Surface 2 is faster and more powerful than its predecessor, but because of a lack of apps, it fails to achieve true excellence.
The Microsoft Surface 2 is a clear upgrade over the Surface RT. However, from the a strictly physical sense, those differences maybe hard to spot. It now comes in silver or at least the back side is silver and the body is ever so slightly thinner and a little bit lighter. It still feels as sturdy and well-built as Surface RT. However, Microsoft went a step further with its confinements removing the screw heads in the space under the kickstand and lowering the micro SD storage slot making it easier to access. Speaking of the kickstand, the Surface 2 has a second lower kickstand angle making it easier to balance on your lap. Both the new touch and type covers are still sold separate but now include backlighting and aren't as thick when using them as covers. Type cover keys are quieter when struck, which is a plus but the touchpad isn't as comfortable as the original type cover in my opinion. Of course, the Surface 2 is running the 8.1 version of Windows RT. Windows RT still does not do legacy Windows programs but it does come with a free copy of office 2013. There are a ton of new artsy features from a better design settings menu, the easier screen customization and navigation, a redesigned Windows store and a return of the Start menu. However, for more details, check out our Windows 8.1 first look. Although things that improve with the Windows store in terms of app availability, you still won't find as many apps as you will on Amazon, Google or Apple app stores. The screen resolution is now 1929 by 1080 up from 1366 by 768. Both the front and back cameras, I've seen significant upgrades in sharpness and aperture but most significant are the photo editing tools which go impressively deep. The Tegra 4 in size Surface 2 delivers great gaming performance not quite NVIDIA shield level but a noticeable step up from last year. WiFi performance as well is noticeably faster. Surface 2 goes worth $449 for 32 gigabytes of storage and $549 for 64 gigabytes. Type cover 2 and touch cover 2 retail for $130 and $120 respectively. Surface RT is still available for $349 and if you're trying to choose between the old one or the new one, the new one is definitely worth the upgrade. However, whether Surface 2 is right for you is another question. It's still the best productivity tablet, thanks to its keyboards and inclusion of office. And while Xbox music and video were both pretty satisfying for a featured media apps, apps supporting general unfortunately still falls short compared to Apple, Google and Amazon. Check out my full review at cnet.com for more information and my final recommendation. I'm Eric Franklin and this has been a first look at the Microsoft Surface 2.