Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Surface Pro 2 / Now Surface Pro 3

  • Is it a tablet?
  • Is it a notebook?
  • Is it a desktop?

I’ve been intending to write about the Surface Pro 2 for so long but never quite got around to it. Now, my procrastination has resulted in me being scooped by the next generation Surface Pro from Microsoft, the Surface Pro 3. Finally, putting fingers to keyboard, I’ll review them both here.


Surface Pro 2

I bought a Surface Pro 2 shortly after it began shipping last year. After taking a trip abroad and lugging my hefty laptop around with me, I had been waiting with baited breath for the svelte Surface Pro 2. Here’s what I like about the Surface Pro 2.

It’s compact and light: First and foremost, it delivers what I was seeking in the way of an easy carry, real computer for when I’m on the road.

surfacepro2tabxFor entertainment on the road, it’s a tablet: Without any of its accessories, the Surface Pro 2 is a tablet with a strikingly sharp 10.6-inch, 1920×1080 touch screen. Since it is running Windows 8.1, it is a full functioning computer, and I COULD (meaning it would be possible) run any kind of software I wanted, even in this tablet mode. But in all honesty, I don’t find it very convenient for productivity work without its accessory keyboard. But as a slate, it is great for streaming Netflix or other media files that I download onto a 64GB micro SD card and slip it into the Surface Pro 2’s card reader slot.

surfacepro2laptopxAdd the keyboard accessory and it’s a notebook: Well sort of. Even though it’s a little cramped, I can type reasonably well with the accessory Type Cover. But if I’m trying to do any real work, I have to admit that with my aging eyes, the 10.6 inch screen makes me work a little harder to see what I’m doing. But then I remind myself, this was intended to give me functionality on the go, not necessarily the most optimal work experience.

surfacepro2dockxAdd the docking station, and it’s a desktop: Desktop! Are you kidding? Not at all. Slide the sides of the docking station into position, and you now have 4 USB ports (one of which is USB 3.0), an Ethernet port for direct-wired connection to your network, a DisplayPort for connecting to one or more external monitors, audio in and out, and of course a power connection. I plug a 2TB external drive into the USB 3 port, a dongle for connecting a wireless keyboard and mouse into one of the USB 2 ports, and a 27-inch monitor to the DisplayPort via a DisplayPort-HDMI adaptor. And here’s what I get.


Now I have the convenience of a full size keyboard and mouse and a screen that I can see without eye strain. This, my friends, I call a “desktop” computer.

It’s got the power: The Surface Pro 2 comes in 4 configurations:

  1. 64 GB SSD and 4 GB memory: $899
  2. 128 GB SSD and 4 GB memory: $999
  3. 256 GB SSD and 8 GB memory: $1,299
  4. 512 GB SSD and 8 GB memory: $1,799

I chose the 256 GB storage/8 GB memory option, as it seemed to have the best price/power ratio. It optimizes performance with the 8 GB memory, and 256 GB storage is more than adequate for the on-board drive. I can (and did) plug in a 2 TB external drive that gives me all the storage I need.

Introducing Surface Pro 3

Surprising all the people that were expecting a Surface “mini” this month, Microsoft instead announced the Surface Pro 3. The biggest differences are that the Surface Pro 3 has a 12-inch screen (vs. 10.6 for the Pro 2), it has an Intel Core i7 option (the Pro 2 uses a Core i5 processor), and it’s actually thinner than the Surface Pro 2. The larger screen also accommodates a larger Type Cover keyboard.

Bottom line, the Surface Pro 3, with its larger screen and keyboard, can now serve as a REAL, uncompromised notebook. And the Core i7 processor puts it in company with many of the most powerful notebooks … at a price . Microsoft gets $1,949 for its top-of-the-line configuration (Core i7/512GB) model.

Had I waited, I probably would have opted for the Surface Pro 3. But remembering my main motivation for purchasing this in the first place, the ultimate “travel-ability” in a real, full-functioning computer, the Surface Pro 2 still holds the prize in that category.

Category: Articles, Computers