Microsoft Surface 2

The Good The Microsoft Surface 2 has a sturdy build, smooth gaming performance, and high-quality cameras. Windows RT 8.1 is easier to use than before, and the built-in photo-editing tools and Xbox Music are fantastic features. Office 2013 is included for free, and thanks to a new kickstand angle, the tablet is less likely to fall off your lap.

The Bad App support still lags behind competitors, and Windows RT is still incompatible with legacy programs. It's too easy to mistakenly push the tablet into its lower stance, and the touch pad on the Type Cover 2 isn't as comfortable as it was on the previous version.

The Bottom Line The Microsoft Surface 2 is great for getting work done, but those looking for extensive app support (beyond Office) will find top Apple, Android, and Amazon tablets to be better options.

Editors' Rating
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0
7.3 Overall

Compare

Microsoft Surface 2
Microsoft Surface 2
Amazon Fire HD 8 (black, 16GB, 2017)
Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017)
Apple iPad 2017 (space gray, 32GB)
Apple iPad (9.7-inch, 2017)
Apple iPad Pro (10.5-inch, silver, 64GB)
iPad Pro (10.5-inch, 2017)
Huawei MediaPad M3
Huawei MediaPad M3
Price $300 Amazon.com $50 Amazon.com $286 Amazon.com $589 Amazon.com $278 Amazon.com
Design
7
8
8
10
9
Features
7
8
8
8
7
Performance
8
8
9
9
8

Review

Quality tablet suffering from a lack of app support

The Microsoft Surface 2 is a definite upgrade over 2012's Surface RT. It's faster, with a sharper screen, and houses better cameras. If you're choosing between the older (still available) and newer model, the newer is the decidedly better option, even with its $100 premium. A far more appropriate question, however, is whether a Surface tablet in general is right for you.

There are two main issues with the Surface 2 that keep it from achieving true excellence. First -- with the notable exception of Microsoft Office 2013, which is bundled for free -- Windows RT is still not compatible with legacy Windows programs. (In other words: any old Windows program that worked on your XP, Vista, or Windows 7 PC won't run here.) Second, although the Windows app store has made some gains in app breadth and depth since its debut last year, it still lags painfully behind app stores from Amazon, Apple, and Google.

Those seeking legacy software compatibility can opt instead for the Surface Pro 2. It delivers the same overall look and feel of the Surface 2, but runs the full version of Windows 8.1, which does work with all of those old Windows programs (once you invest in an optical drive, at least). But there will be compromises: you'll pay twice as much; lose the free Office bundle; get shorter battery life; and get a tablet that's thicker and heavier than the Surface 2 reviewed here.

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Specs / Prices

  • MSRP $449
  • Brand Microsoft
  • Diagonal Size 10.6 in
  • Type Microsoft Windows 8.1 RT
  • Monitor Features 5-point multi-touch, ClearType HD, Wide Viewing Angle, durable display
  • Weight 1.49 lbs
  • Color Category black, silver
  • Cameras (for SD) rear camera + front camera
  • Installed Size 2 GB
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