I don’t generally write hardware reviews here – mostly because I tend to just pick up technology as I go, get all excited about it for a few days, and then once it incorporates itself into my daily life it simply becomes mundane. But recently, I got a new piece of technology that really, REALLY stands out. I find myself using it pretty much all day – in fact, right now, outside of work it’s my sole computer.
I ended up picking up a Surface Pro 2, after the untimely death of my laptop’s battery. I’d done a fair amount of research, and got to see the Surface Pro 3 in action a couple of times at work (a co-worker of mine teaches workshops from his), and I figured, if I got one with decent enough specs, I’d be fine with a Surface Pro 2 instead of a pricier Pro 3. I mean, if my co-worker could teach entire workshops off of it, it had to be at least a halfway decent laptop replacement, right? So I stumbled across an open-box Surface Pro 2 on Amazon with a 256 gig SSD and 8 gigs of RAM (pretty much an exact replacement for my laptop, aside from the SSD, which is a major upgrade) for a relatively good price, around $900, and I jumped on it. So what if it was older hardware? It should suit my needs without breaking the bank.
And I have not been disappointed, not one bit. 😀
First things first – I love the fact that I can hook up various peripherals through USB. This is the only tablet I’ve owned so far that’s had a USB port on it! I’ve even gone so far as to hook up a USB hub and run a wireless keyboard and mouse through it, before I picked up the Type Cover. With that awesome little USB port, I can hook up an external hard drive, use my USB headset to deliver a workshop, use a mouse for when I need something more than a tiny trackpad… I think that’s quite possibly my most favorite feature about this tablet.
The fact that I can also hook it up to a monitor with the help of a dongle is awesome, too. With the external monitor and mouse, it almost feels like I’m using my full desktop. It’s not quite the same experience as using my desktop, as my desktop has twice the RAM, but it’s an incredibly smooth experience, especially for a tablet. I’ve worked in Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and InDesign on here so far, and the only thing that reminds me that I’m on a tablet is the keyboard for the Type Cover. In fact, this thing runs better than my work desktop – far better.
And the keyboard? Pretty impressive for something so small. I’ve had varied experiences with tablet keyboards, and more often than not they’re too small for me to type comfortably on. I remember trying to type with the keyboard for my old iPad Mini – I had to squish my two hands together and take a few minutes to adjust to typing on a keyboard crammed into such a small space. And there was no trackpad, either. The Type Cover feels like I’m using an actual keyboard. And it’s backlit. Having laptops with backlit keyboards have spoiled me in the past, what with my old Macbook Pro and my recently out-of-commission Asus laptop, and in low light conditions I rely on the backlighting to make sure my fingers are on the right keys. And this little keyboard does not disappoint, either.
Last of all – but certainly not least – is the battery life. Oh lord, there’s nothing that makes me giggle with glee quite like hovering over the battery icon and seeing I have ten hours of battery life left. I’ve been able to use the
laptop tablet casually all day long, and have only needed to plug it in at the end of the day. When doing more intense work like using Creative Suite, I have plugged it in just to be on the safe side, but that’s just me being the paranoid designer that I am. (Save early, save often, or you will be very sad if your machine dies) But for simply browsing the internet and listening to music (and oh gods the sound is amazing for such a little tablet!), I’ve been able to go most of the day without plugging it in.
And there you have it – my impressions of the Surface Pro 2 after spending a week of quality time with it. If you’re considering getting one for yourself, keep an eye out on Amazon for good deals, and shoot for a Pro 2, as they’re cheaper considering the Pro 3 has just come out with some new models. The Pro 2 will do you just as well, but without entirely breaking the bank!