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Surface Pro 2: Camera, Sound Quality and Verdict

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Other things to consider

The cameras on the Surface Pro are the same as before, 720p front and back. They're purely for video conferencing, clearly, though we'd like it if the front one did better in low light. It's a fair amount worse than the best ones on top-end smartphones.

Surface Pro 2 3

Nothing has changed in the sound quality department. The Surface Pro 2 has stereo speakers, but they're not as loud as one would hope. The two combined are no louder than the single speaker on an iPad 2, which makes them adequate only when there's no background noise to contend with. Detail and clarity is good, though, so they're good enough to watching TV shows without straining to hear the dialogue.

Elsewhere, while we're fine with limited physical connectivity (a single USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort and microSD), it's disappointing Microsoft hasn't upgraded Wi-Fi to 802.11ac. As you can see in our best routers roundup there's no shortage of AC routers, and it's something that's present on the latest MacBook Airs. It's all the more important given tablets like the Surface Pro 2 totally rely on wireless connections.

Finally, if you are interested in a Surface Pro 2, we'd strongly encourage you to opt for the £799 128GB version. Our 64GB one only has around 37GB spare after the OS and recovery partition have taken their share, which isn't enough for a decent size music and video collection. The microSDXC slot does support up to 64GB cards for expansion, but we'd sooner have more, faster built-in memory on tap.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 best tablets

Surface Pro 2

Should I buy the Surface Pro 2?

The Surface Pro 2 is a very tough product to judge, which is what makes it interesting. The good news is Microsoft has sorted out the most serious issue with the first version: the battery life. At around eight hours, the Surface Pro 2 mixes it with the Ultrabooks like the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus and Sony VAIO Pro 13, even if it still falls a little short of 'tablet class' battery life.

This turns the Surface Pro 2 into a genuine contender for your money over an Ultrabook or a larger iPad. Is it a genuine tablet? Not yet. It's too heavy and the battery life still not long enough, but its flexibility as an all-star tablet/laptop/desktop hybrid is undeniable. Nothing comes close to replicating it, so for this reason alone we recommend it. If you want an all-in-one experience, it's the one for you.

It's a recommendation with some caveats - we wish it was lighter as it would make it a much better tablet, as would a better stocked app store, and Microsoft needs to sort out the high DPI issues on the desktop side of things - but the Surface Pro 2 delivers on the potential the original only hinted at.

Verdict

There are still some rough edges, but the Surface Pro 2 is an outstanding hybrid in the true meaning of the word. Nothing matches the flexibility it offers and it finally has the battery life to deliver on its promise.

Next, read our iPad mini 2 news and rumour round-up

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 8
  • Build Quality 9
  • Design 8
  • Heat & Noise 9
  • Performance 9
  • Screen Quality 9
  • Sound Quality 6
  • Value 8

Philkempo

October 22, 2013, 2:45 pm

Aren't the cameras on the Surface Pro 2 still 720p front and back? I've read TR for years but these sort of mistakes shouldn't make it to print, it's a simple check of the spec sheet.

andyvan

October 22, 2013, 3:37 pm

Apologies, this is my mistake. I thought I was looking at the Surface Pro 2 specs page with the Surface 2 specs side-by-side, but turns out I was on the Surface 2 specs page which is the other way around.

RichGtB

October 23, 2013, 7:29 am

Interesting to read how when a device attempts to have some sort of connectivity, such as a USB 3 port, micro-sd slot etc, its considered limited. But its never an issue on an ipad :-/ Anyway, i`ve dabbled with the original surface pro and loved the fact of how versatile and slick it is.

MikkaMakkaMoo

October 23, 2013, 8:47 am

Maybe it's because the iPad doesn't run the same operating system that you would find on a desktop machine?

Or maybe it's because the reviewer sees the Surface Pro as a "a tablet, laptop and desktop in one"? As per the very first sentence of the review.

Chris

October 24, 2013, 11:52 am

If the stylus really is "an essential part of the Surface Pro experience", you could have dedicated a little more attention to it.
Edge accuracy and cursor/brush lag in particular would have been good to know about.

andyvan

October 24, 2013, 12:52 pm

Apologies, I spent less time on it principally because:

1) It hasn't changed at all from the last version
2) I'm not so well qualified to judge it from a creative perspective.

Short version, however, is that it's very accurate, very fast and a pleasure to use. I can't think of a tablet that's better to write and draw on.

Phil

December 21, 2013, 2:39 pm

It absolutely is an issue on the iPad, not being able to directly plug in a USB stick or hard drive is a bl**dy nuisance. The iPad is basically a toy, once there is something better - and that's not going to anything Windows based - ill be moving off it. One USB connector is IMHO inadequate. If that breaks you are stuffed.

Solvetech

December 22, 2013, 3:01 pm

I have been using an iPad for a couple of years but wanted a windows tablet and opted for the surface pro 2.

I am a little disappointed in the charging solution which is a bit fiddly and is far too close to the mini-dp port. I keep accidentally dislodging the power when the dp port is connected. I also have a problem with the weight when compared to an iPad. However I do not regret the purchase and will use it every day.

7/10 and improving. Shame about the bad update - Microsofts quality standards are slipping in relation to updates being released too soon

RobotX

January 2, 2014, 1:33 am

Installed the Intel HD 4400 Driver and it'll solve your dynamic contrast issue (turn off the driver power optimization from intel) and it'll also dramatically improved the gradation quality (no more banding) and finally able to calibrate the screen properly.

Kammy

January 3, 2014, 5:57 pm

I just got mine yesterday, I'm actually on it right now lol! It's perfect in my opinion. I'm just glad I got a hold of one, since they're practically sold out everywhere

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