Denise Goldberg's blog

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

product review :: Surface 2

After my "baby" computer exhibited some odd behavior during my trip to Alberta it felt like soon was the right time for a replacement. I started looking at small computers and tablets soon after I returned home. I was interested in a tablet but I also wanted a real keyboard; I didn't think that typing blog entries on the screen would be efficient or comfortable. Given that this would be the only computer I carry when I travel I wanted a screen size that is reasonable but not too large. Somewhere between 10 and 11 inches wide felt about right.

I looked at reviews, I talked with one of my colleagues who has a tendency to read and absorb information. I think I had a Surface in my mind; I had seen the original model and decided to wait until the release of Windows 8.1 and the Surface 2 in October. I thought I would walk into a store, play, and possibly compare the new Surface with some other devices. It turned out that wasn't a reasonable expectation since there wasn't a convenient retail outlet that stocked both the Surface 2 and other competitive devices.

The device still sounded right to me so I ordered the Surface and a Type Cover from Staples. Once it was in my hands it was time to play.

Microsoft Surface 2, tablet with kickstand

Microsoft Surface 2 with Type Cover 2

My new toy was exactly what I expected. I can use it as a tablet or I can add the keyboard and have a very reasonable device for writing my blog entries. The keyboard and the power cord both simply snap into place using a magnetic (shaped) connection, very sweet. It has a two-position kickstand for ease of reading and screen access whether the device is on a table or perched on your lap.

The dimensions (10.81 x 6.79 x 0.35 inches) met my small size requirements very nicely. It's lightweight, a pound and a half without the keyboard, and the keyboard is quite thin and light. The operating system is Windows RT 8.1 with Office 2013 RT pre-installed. RT is a lightweight operating system that can install applications only from the Windows store but that's not an issue for me. My computing needs when I'm traveling are easily met by web access and the tools in Office 2013 RT.

When I ordered the Surface I thought I'd try it without a mouse first; after all, it is a tablet with a touch screen! That only lasted a few days - even my small hands can't click on a spot as exactly as a mouse can. To match the relatively small size of the device I ordered an Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition. It's a funny device - the off position is flat. To turn it on you curve it until it snaps into a shape to fit your hand. I like it!

Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition, closed Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition, ready for use

It's funny, I pretty much used my (previous) netbook only when I was traveling but I'm finding that I use my Surface much more often. It comes out of sleep instantly so it's natural to pick it up and use it. My computer lives in one spot but my Surface walks with me.