The Surface Pro 2 has been available for purchase since the start of the week. To celebrate the event, Microsoft invited several bloggers and several journalists to an evening last Monday , an evening to which your humble servant had the opportunity to be invited. I obviously took the opportunity to approach the agency in charge of the firm's affairs in France in order to obtain a test copy. It seems that my long glances have borne fruit since a courier dropped by to drop the animal off yesterday at the end of the afternoon. She deserved an unboxing video , and an article with my first impressions of her.
If you are faithful to the post, you should know that all my tests are systematically divided into two articles: a preview , or getting started, on one side, and a full report on the other. Very concretely, it will therefore be necessary to wait until next week to be entitled to the complete test of the beast, a test which will focus both on the tablet, and on Windows 8.1.
As some of you may know, the Surface Pro 2 comes in four distinct models. Everything is explained on this page , but just know that these models differ according to their RAM , their storage space and… their price . In my case, it is the basic model that was provided to me, and therefore the one offered at 899 €.
Under the hood, we are therefore entitled to:
- 10.6-inch 16: 9 ClearType Full HD display.
- 1920 × 1080 resolution, 10 point multi-touch touch interaction.
- 4th generation Intel Core i5 processor.
- 4 GB of RAM.
- 64 GB of storage space.
- WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n, Bluetooth 4.0.
- 720p HD camera on the back of the hull, and on the front.
- Microphone, stereo speakers.
- Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer.
- USB 3.0 port, micro SDXC card reader, headphone jack, Mini DisplayPort port.
- Dimensions: 274.5 x 173 x 13.46 mm.
- Weight: 907 grams.
Microsoft has opted for the Haswell microarchitecture, a choice that results in a gain in power and, above all, in better autonomy. If I believe those who had the opportunity to test the first Surface Pro, the latter could hardly last more than three or four hours without recharging. I haven't completed all of my tests, but the Surface Pro 2 that was shipped to me exceeded the five hour mark with the Type Cover 2 backlight on. I didn't actually get much sleep last night. The joys of parenthood. Neologisms are sometimes good.
By using a Power Cover and relying on the case's built-in battery, the Surface Pro 2 should be able to cover a standard working day. However, I will push my investigations a little further for the test of the device.
The computing power of the slate seems rather comfortable to me. I did not deplore any latency during these few hours spent with him, including launching a dozen different applications and handling large files, ie high definition photos captured through my 100D. The quality of the screen pleasantly surprised me, as did the responsiveness of the touchscreen and the sound from the built-in speakers. This is often the weak point of mobile terminals, but the Surface Pro 2 is doing like a boss.
Design & Ergonomics
The Surface Pro 2 is extremely compact, but quite heavy. With its 907 grams on the scale, it weighs only 100 grams less than the 11-inch MacBook Air. That's fine when the device is used as an ultra-portable, but it's a bit more annoying in tablet mode, unless you're spending your life on the back of your couch, of course.
The finishes are exemplary. Surprising? Not that much since we find the same quality of design as for the first models. Not everyone will necessarily think like me but these two new Surface are anyway very high end, much more than some machines produced by Acer or HP. I am thinking in particular of the ElitePad or even the latest Iconia which are much more “cheap”, but they are certainly not the only ones.
I also liked the foot integrated into the shell, less rigid than on the first model. Two positions are better than one. However, and as I have already mentioned in my previous articles, Microsoft should have gone even further. Not all consumers are the same height, nor do they stand the same. The same goes for the height of desks or tables. And even if Microsoft probably had to do a lot of studies to determine the optimal angles of its foot, the system is nonetheless very restrictive.
Now let's move on to the ergonomics of the beast.
On the top edge we will find the power button. The volume controls are on the left edge, next to the headphone jack and the USB 3.0 port. On the other side of the tablet, we will have the port for micro SDXC cards, the Mini DisplayPort output and the connector dedicated to the power supply of the Surface Pro 2. Magnetic connector which can also accommodate the stylus supplied with the latter.
The on-board cameras are located on either side of the slate. Microsoft has also added a sensitive button under its screen, leading to the home screen. The connector used by the “Covers” is on the lower edge.
The model lent to me by Microsoft comes with a Type Cover 2. If the latter has exactly the same characteristics and the same ergonomics as the first version of the cover, it has a difference in size: its keys are backlit . The firm has also added to the keyboard function bar two keys to adjust the intensity of the light.
In terms of typing comfort, nothing to say, the Type Cover 2 is extremely pleasant to use. However, I have a lot more trouble with the touchpad cut out of the cover. It's way too small for my taste. As a direct consequence, it is sorely lacking in precision. Not very surprising considering the fact that it also embeds two buttons and that it also supports several “multitouch” gestures. Moral, it will be better to rely either on the screen of the device or on a mouse, depending on your use.
Before you can use the Surface Pro 2, you need to set it up first. Microsoft has thus developed an assistant that takes us by the hand when the device is started for the first time. Very positive point, the latter is quite easy to understand. Almost as simple as that of terminals running iOS or Android.
This wizard is broken down into several steps. I don't have them all in mind, but we will have to define our time zone, configure our WiFi network and tweak optional parameters. In this regard, two choices will be available to us: it will obviously be possible to get our hands dirty, but we can also opt for a quick configuration . So there will be something for everyone and Ms. Michu should get by without too many unpleasant surprises.
Then, we will have to set up our Microsoft account. After entering our username and password, the wizard will possibly offer us to reassemble a backup of another machine. Then again, it's hard not to think about what Google or Apple has to offer. Thanks to this system, we will no longer need to take the hassle of configuring our machine, and our home screen since all our usual parameters will be automatically retrieved by the machine. For personal files, it will always be possible to switch to third-party solutions such as SkyDrive, Dropbox or Google Drive.
This is just the first step for Microsoft. The firm will continue to work on its “cloud” technologies and the next versions of its operating system will go even further.
They are good, sure. I haven't found my marks yet, but the Surface Pro 2 has pleasantly surprised me so far. It's a beautiful product, yes, but it's also very functional with well thought out ergonomics and performance that seems to live up to my expectations. I have a little more reservations about the Type Cover 2, and more specifically about its touchpad, but some adaptation time may be necessary. Anyway, we'll have the opportunity to talk about it again in my full test, which will normally be published at the end of next week.
If you have questions, remarks and comments, comments are just what you need. I leave you with my unboxing video, a video which also features the assistant mentioned above.