Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 Review Roundup: Improved, But Not Great

Surface Pro 2Microsoft delved into the tablet space about a year ago with its Surface and Surface Pro slates, and now the Windows device maker is back for round two. The new Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 tablets embody the same laptop-tablet hybrid feel of their predecessors, but Microsoft has added improvements that help them both function more efficiently as productivity devices.

The $899 Haswell-powered Surface Pro 2 boasts 75 percent more battery life, a sharper 1920 x 1080-pixel display with 46 percent more color and an improved kickstand. The $449 Surface 2, comparatively, runs on a Nvidia Tegra 4 chipset and features the same 1920 x 1080 resolution display and redesigned kickstand as its more powerful bigger sibling. Here’s what the first reviews are saying. 

Surface Pro 2 Reviews


Tom Warren, The Verge

The Good: ”The Surface Pro 2 may look like a tablet, but inside it’s all laptop…This is one of the fastest tablets on the market.”

The Bad: “However, it’s still bulky for its primary tablet purpose and nothing has changed to address that.”

MORE: Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 vs. the Competiton

Dana Wollman, Engadget

The Good: “Top-notch craftsmanship is one of the reasons you’ll want to go with the Surface Pro 2…Turned off, the tablet’s metal surface feel smooth, cold and..expensive. Fortunately, it’s also durable: the Pro emerged from my week of testing scratch-free, and with only a light dusting of fingerprint smudges.”

The Bad: “As a tablet, the Surface Pro has made fewer strides. And that’s a shame, since the Pro is, at its heart, a tablet. The improved battery life helps, sure, but the Surface Pro 2 isn’t any thinner or lighter than its predecessor, and can be cumbersome to use as a standalone tablet.”

Matthew Honan, Wired

The Good: These devices feel more refined. They keyboards are more responsive, the battery life, cameras and displays are all better.”

The Bad: But it [the Surface] has a real software problem that doesn’t appear to be getting much better and may even be locked in a downward spiral.”

Anand Lal Shimpi, AnandTech

The Good: “Surface Pro 2 is a good improvement over its predecessor. The platform is quicker, quieter and boasts longer battery life as well…If you were tempted by the original Surface Pro, its successor is a solid evolution and that much more tempting.”

The Bad: “What I was hoping for this year round was an even thinner/lighter chassis, but it looks like we’ll have to wait another year for that.”

MORE: Best Tablets 2013

Dan Ackerman, CNET

The Good: “Compared with the very similar Sony Vaio Tap 11, the Surface Pro 2’s screen was brighter and crisper, with excellent off-axis viewing angles.”

The Bad: “The biggest disappointment is that it’s still got that first-gen hardware look, while Sony has managed to shave its competing Tap 11 system down to a thinner, lighter package.”

Surface 2 Reviews

Surface 2

David Pierce, The Verge

The Good: “Even on its first try, Microsoft showed impressive aptitude for hardware design. The Surface 2 continues the trend, a beautiful, beveled rectangle made of Microsoft’s aluminum-like VaporMg material.”

The Bad: “The bad news: a good Surface still isn’t a great device. Not right now, anyway. It’s not a great tablet — it’s too big, too tall in portrait mode, and missing way too many crucial apps. It’s not a great laptop either, not unless you’re willing to tote around a mouse and keyboard.”

MORE: Most Anticipated Bay Trail Tablets

Dana Wollman, Engadget

The Good: “Microsoft has already proven that it can build better hardware than just about any Windows OEM. Indeed, the Surface 2 is a top-notch product. It’s thin and well- built, with a nice display, improved webcam, and generous amount of storage.”

The Bad: “Still, recommending the Surface becomes harder when there are other Windows tablets that cost less and run full Windows.”

Matthew Honan, Wired

The Good: “…The Surface fell about 12 feet, tumbled down a couple of steps, and smacked and skittered across the hardwood floor below…But not only was the Surface unblemished, the movie it was playing never even stuttered. It was as if nothing had happened.”

The Bad: “And when you do use Desktop mode on either device, the interface elements feel very, very small. Almost unnavigably so. It’s hard to operate menus or hit buttons, which is exacerbated by the very small trackpad on both style keyboards.”

Anand Lal Shimpi, AnandTech

The Good: “Surface 2’s construction feels every bit as solid and expensive as its predecessor. Both devices remain the absolute best built Windows tablets/notebooks on the market.”

The Bad: “Unfortunately, Surface 2 faces the same struggles as its predecessor – primarily around the limited use of Windows RT.”

Eric Franklin, CNET

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 ever before, and the built-in photo-editing tools and Xbox Music are fantastic features.”

The Bad: “App support still lags behind competitors, and Windows RT is still incompatible with legacy programs.”

Overall Impressions

There’s no doubt about it — Microsoft has addressed some of the legitimate concerns and criticisms that stemmed from its original Surface and Surface Pro tablets. With premium hardware, durable design and longer battery life, Microsoft’s new pair of Surface slates sound like the perfect productivity devices on paper. However, based on early reviews, the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 still appear to suffer from the same primary problem its predecessors did. Neither device functions better as a tablet or laptop than other (sometimes cheaper) devices on the market.  That combined with the  limited app selection of the Windows 8.1 ecosystem holds the Surfaces back from reaching their full potential. We look forward to bringing you our full review soon.

Lisa Eadicicco
Lisa Eadicicco
Lisa has been reporting on all things mobile for since early 2013. When she’s not reviewing gadgets, she’s usually browsing patent databases or interviewing experts to track down the hottest tech trends before they even happen. Lisa holds a B.A. in Journalism from SUNY Purchase and has contributed to The International Business Times, The New York Daily News and Guitar World Magazine.
Lisa Eadicicco on
Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options