I’ve had about a week with my Surface Pro 2 now and I wanted to share my thoughts. Full disclosure MS did give me this Surface Pro 2 since I was so vocal about my love of the first one. So what makes the Pro 2 different?
Well on the outside not much actually. In terms of its physical dimensions it is identical to the first Pro. They have given it a new two stage kickstand. This solves one of my big complaints about using the device in your lap. For anyone around the 6 foot mark the old kickstand put the device at an uncomfortable angle if you were trying to use it like a laptop. The new kickstand solves this and that makes me happy.
I’m not a computer guy. I don’t know about processors and rams or megs. I can tell you that the version MS sent me has 8gb of ram and came with 232gb off free HD space. Tycho tells me that internally the device is sporting some slick hardware but all I really care about is how it performs. So how does it perform?
This is probably the biggest feature for me. The surface Pro is a mobile digital art studio. The Pro is a full windows 8 computer which means I can put Manga Studio and Photoshop on it. I have a Creative Cloud account so getting my Adobe apps on there was a snap. Just like the Surface Pro 1 I can draw entire strips on here and create print ready art with ease. I can do my job on the Surface Pro and I can do it anywhere.
When it comes to the Pro 2 there are some improvements in this department but they are minor. MS has managed to improve pen sensitivity around the edges of the screen. This was a problem on the first Pro. It used to be that the closer you got to the edge of the screen the less accurate the pen was. This sucked because that tends to be where all your little tool buttons are. I don’t find this to be an issue any longer with the Pro 2.
Battery life is also a major improvement here. Drawing on an airplane or anyplace I didn’t have access to power meant I had about 3.5 to 4 hours of drawing time. With the Pro 2 I’m getting closer to 6 when drawing and I feel like that’s pretty damn good. That’s plenty of time for me to draw a strip or knock out some new pin designs. The battery life is even better if I’m just browsing the web and answering email but the boost when drawing is much appreciated.
Other than that I’d say the drawing experience is pretty much identical. That’s fine by me because it was already awesome.
The new insides mean that the Pro 2 can tackle some pretty robust games. I could not play DOTA 2 on the first Pro but I tried in on the Pro 2 and it was smooth. I've been playing Path of Exile on it with no complaints and LOL was getting between 40 and 60 FPS with all the good stuff turned on.
To be fair most of the games I play on it are not actually that demanding. I use it to check out lots of cool steam indie games that just don’t need much horsepower. Recently I played through the first episode of Wolf Among us at 1920x1200 and it played beautifully. It’s not an Alienware rig but it’s a damn good gaming machine now. Plug a 360 controller in and your next plane flight is going to be much improved.
There are people who hate Windows 8 but I’m a fan. I wish the app store was more robust but that will come. The pro 2 comes with 200gb of Skydrive space so I went ahead and created an account. Now I’ve got my phone set up so that every time I take a picture it sends a copy to Skydrive. My Surface Pictures app grabs that and gives me a slick little slide show on my start screen without me having to do anything. I don’t have to find a cable or make time to sync. It was also a breeze to set up as all I had to do was log in with my MS account and the new machine grabbed all my apps and organized my start screen just the way I had it. Even my email and web browser favorites were ready to go.
The email app reads both my gmail accounts just fine and I have no complaints about any of the other must haves like netflix, Skype and twitter. All the core stuff is there and it works great. I can play my angry birds and fairway solitaire. Honestly though if I want to play games I’m going to Steam not the MS app store. Although halo Spartan Assault is pretty damn good especially now that they have added controller support.
This side of the device is simply not where I spend most of my time. When I do come here it’s to surf the web or check my email and it works fine.
The new keyboards are both nice. I like the backlighting and the new thinner type cover is especially cool. I have not had a chance to try out the docking station yet but I’d like to get my hands on one soon.
Overall I’m impressed with the Pro 2. They fixed the big problems I had and didn’t change any of the shit I loved. I realize I’m a very special use case and that I personally am sort of primed to love this device in a way other people might not. For me a machine that I can draw and play games on, that is super portable is like finding a real life unicorn. I had a conversation with my friend Amber about it a couple weeks ago. She is a doctor and uses her Pro to run all her crazy medical programs and carries it around to write notes with the stylus. We happen to need/want exactly what the Pro delivers. The Surface Pro is a work machine. It is not a tablet for checking your mail and playing angry birds (although it can do that stuff). This is a computer for getting shit done. It’s for creating not consuming. I think that’s the distinction and I think that’s the hardest thing for MS to try and communicate.