A week with the Surface Pro 2
On launch day I was lucky enough that work was willing to buy a shiny new Microsoft Surface Pro 2, Microsoft’s all-singing, all-dancing new Tablet.
For those that don’t know about the SP2, it is essentially an i5-based laptop squished into tablet form. Which means it’s fast. Damn fast. And it run’s full-blown Windows so you’re not just limited to ‘Tablet’ apps.
I’ve had it for a week now, been using it pretty much constantly for anything that I’m not sitting at my work desk for.
However nutshell version: Is this machine great? Absolutely! Would I spend my own $1600 on it? No.
Let me explain why….
I shall start off with the good stuff first.
It’s fast. Really fast. I got the 8Gb/256Gb model. It’s purrs along swimmingly with all apps being really snappy. I’ve yet to throw anything at it that really made it struggle. I even installed Steam on it and sparked up a game of Counter-Strike:Source and got a steady 60FPS. The screen is bright, ludicrously high resolution, with a staggering refresh rate. All in all it’s simply a fantastic machine. I even got used to Windows 8, which suddenly all makes sense on a tablet.
But all that grunt, performance, and brute force has some down-sides. Size and heat. I’ve had laptops that weigh less and produce less heat. At first you think ‘Hmm, It’s kind of bulky’, but carry it around a while or try and hold it one-handed for an extended period of time and it really shows it’s weight. After a while you just want something lighter. You just want to put it down on a desk….. and leave it there. This is a machine best used with the Type cover and on a desk.
So why then spend all that cash on something that weighs about the same as a laptop and with the exception of short-stints being hand-held; is used the same as a laptop?
Because of all that grunt I suppose.
That grunt is addictive…..
However I have a grunty laptop already. A 15″ Macbook Pro Retina with 16Gb Ram and a 750Gb SSD. I dont need another laptop. I need something to compliment the laptop, but not with the limitations of a ‘cut-down’ Tablet OS (eg: Android or iOS).
But isn’t that what the SP2 is?
Sort of, but not really. After a solid week of use I’ve realised that the SP2 is more laptop and less tablet. So it’s not what I’m after.
So who should buy one? That’s easy. Someone who is looking to compliment a Desktop machine. If you’re already a fairly ‘mobile’ user with a decent laptop; look elsewhere. If however you’re a dedicated desktop user who wants/needs something to take away but not loose all your grunt – then this is where you want to be for sure.
I started this by asking ‘If it was my $1600, would I buy one?’ my answer was No. And its primarily because the SP2 just doesnt suit what I need.
For my money, I have other plans. Early next year, the next batch of Atom-based, Bay Trail tablets are due, sporting proper 64 Bit Windows. With the lift to 64 Bit, that will also lift the ceiling of 2Gb of RAM available in current machines of their ilk. I think thats where I’m headed. In the interim however, I might just pick up another Asus VivoTab Smart and enjoy having something light and nimble again.
But that grunt is so addictive……