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.
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
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.
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
How we test tablets
We test every tablet we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the tablet as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Score in detail
Screen Quality 9
Build Quality 9
Heat & Noise 9
Battery Life 8