Does Microsoft’s answer to the Ultrabook sink or swim as a viable business machine, or is it just a toy?
The Surface Pro 2 doesn’t look much different to the Surface 2, just slightly thicker and heavier. Under normal circumstances, you don’t even notice the difference if you use the normal start screen, with the apps available through the Windows Store.
But the Surface Pro 2 hides an immense amount of power in its diminutive frame, packing an i5 processor and 4GB of RAM along with a 64GB or 128GB SSD or 8GB of RAM in the 256GB or 512GB models.
And it shows; the Surface Pro 2 is amazing and seems to be faster than many other Ultrabooks out there. It’s cheaper than an equivalent Ultrabook, but you do have to buy either a keyboard cover or use another keyboard with it.
But therein lies the SP2s flexibility. Have a walk around the office, how many people have a laptop attached to a dock that’s connected to a screen and a separate keyboard and mouse? How often do those same people unplug their laptop to work around the office? With the SP2, it’s natural to take it with you, wherever you go and yet you still have a fully functioning computer. It positively encourages mobility.
Remember, those users that have iPads or Android tablets are using a different system from their main computer, where as the SP2 is still your main system. No pause in creativity, no change in device, this thing is a beast.
On first look it does seem too powerful for a tablet, yet too small for a fully laptop replacement. But take the time to unlock its talents and you’ll find 101 use cases that this machine fits. From the C-Suite down to your developers and mobile workers. Many SP2 reviewers have said that it’s a confused device. Now I’m no Microsoft fan, I have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the Windows world, as I live in OS X. However, on this occasion, I have to tip my hat to Microsoft. I was more than willing to write it off as another boring ultra book come tablet that would be as interesting as a damp squib.
But having had a chance to be hands on with it, this has the capability to be the missing link that moves established MS enterprises to become more collaborative and more mobile. Hot-desking can become a reality, as you only need to provide a screen, keyboard and mouse. Employees will quickly adapt to its ways, it’s grunty enough to please the hard core, yet simple enough for the basic user. With full enterprise integration and all the bells and whistles, the smart CIOs are no doubt already looking at the ways to integrate it into their business.
Since it wasn’t mine, I didn't dare to throw Ubuntu on it, let alone OS X ;) But the SP2 has something that Apple will be copying soon enough. Place bets on there being an iPad Pro being released sooner rather than later. It has a 10 point touch screen, the micro SD allows a further 64GB expansion
Oh, there are a couple of downers. In a big difference to the Surface 2, Office 2013 is not included, I can see that this is a financial decision and most enterprises will have Office licences, but I wonder if this is because Office 2013 RT is actually powerful enough for most users? The second is the pen / stylus that comes with it. There’s nowhere to store it (apart from attaching it to the power connector), and it’s just not of the same quality as the SP2. I was just waiting to lose it…
TL;DR: The most powerful tablet out there that also puts a lot of Ultrabooks to shame.
Score 4.5 / 5