Microsoft has unveiled its new Surface Pro 2 tablet to take on Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range. A successor to last year’s Surface Pro, it looks almost identical in design but features a much improved battery life, a faster processor and the latest Windows 8.1 operating system.
We compare the Surface Pro 2 with the original Surface Pro on features and price to find out whether it’s worth buying.
Surface Pro 2 vs Surface Pro – design
Design-wise, the Surface Pro 2 is pretty much the same tablet as the original Surface Pro. Both devices weigh a substantial 0.907kg and offer a 10.6-inch high definition screen. So if you thought the original Pro was slightly unwieldy, but good for watching video on; your opinion is unlikely to be swayed by the Surface Pro 2. The only substantial difference between the devices is the Surface Pro 2’s kickstand, which offers an extra adjustment setting so that it can sit more comfortably on your lap.
Surface Pro 2 vs Surface Pro – three key features
75% more battery life – despite featuring the same 4,200mAh battery as the Surface Pro, the Surface Pro 2 is claimed by Microsoft to offer much more power from a single charge. This is supposedly due to better battery management, but a 75% improvement still amounts to significantly more internet browsing time. We’ll see whether the claim stands up in our lab testing.
A laptop-worthy processor – the Surface Pro 2 comes with an Intel Core i5 ‘Haswell’ processor that should prove supremely fast in testing. That’s because it’s the kind of chip you’d usually find powering a laptop, instead of what is effectively a tablet with an attachable keyboard accessory. The previous Surface Pro came with a third-generation Intel Core i5 processor, so it was no slouch either.
Windows 8.1 – Microsoft’s update to Windows 8 comes pre-installed on the Surface Pro 2. This means users of the new tablet will be able to access the Start menu and Internet Explorer 11 out of the box. That said, a free Windows 8.1 update is also available for Surface Pro owners so no one misses out on the fun.
Surface Pro 2 vs Surface Pro – pricing and release date
Thanks the imminent arrival of its successor, the original Surface Pro is available at a cheaper clearance price until 22 October. At £639 for its 64GB model, the Surface Pro remains an expensive purchase. The Surface Pro 2 is set to cost £80 for its 64GB edition for £719, so you’re better off spending the £80 extra.
Which? expert verdict – ‘I’d rather buy a laptop and a tablet’
Such is the price of the Surface 2, you can afford a Best Buy laptop and tablet for less than the price of its 64GB base model. Microsoft would argue it’s more convenient to own just one Surface but I disagree.
As a laptop, the original Surface sat uneasily on your lap and, when using it with a Type cover, I kept hankering after a proper keyboard. A new adjustable kickstand position for the Surface Pro 2 isn’t going to change these fundamental design issues.
That’s the real problem with the Surface Pro 2, it’s an expensive solution to a non-existent problem. Its stripped back Surface RT cousin didn’t sell because consumers want the full Windows experience on a Microsoft product. The Surface Pro didn’t do too well either because the full Windows experience on a Microsoft product came with a premium price tag.
A faster processor and longer-lasting battery life are welcome improvements for the Surface Pro 2. They’ll benefit users who want a more portable way of accessing Office documents on the go. Unless this scenario is a necessity for you, I’d advise spending your money elsewhere.
Rob Leedham – writer