Surface Pro 2

As any of my (at time of writing, zero) Twitter followers will know, I was recently in the market for a new laptop.  I like to have one that is small, portable and with a decent battery life that I can use on the go, since I spend a fair amount of my time on trains going to/from work and/or Sydney.

Having returned my Lenovo 100s (2/10, do not recommend unless you literally just want Facebook.) and with money I had collected in a money tin since arriving in Australia ($200 in 6 months, 10/10, do recommend doing). I had a soft budget of around $400.  Browsing the JB Hi Fi website I found a nice looking 2-in-1, Lenovo 310 for $380.  Then I checked again and it was up to $440. Damn.  I had just caught the tail end of a weekend sale.  I attempted to ask in the store if there was anything they could do, they offered me $20 off and/or a range of accessories.  No dice.  Resigned to waiting for another sale or looking for something else.  Then, finally, I found a used Microsoft Surface Pro 2, for $420 on eBay.  I pounced.  Within a week it was in my hands, in all its 1080, 208 PPI, Windows 8.1 glory.  I promptly updated to Windows 10 and set about researching the Wacom Pen that was originally provided with the Surface Pro 2.

In a stroke of luck, I was contacted by Microsoft about my SP2 on a completely unrelated matter, I then proceeded to ask if they still stocked/sold the pen, they didn’t, but the friendly people on MS Twitter support offered to send one to me anyway!

 

15133713_10154708855024004_647815900_o.png
First attempt at tracing using a stylus on my phone.

Now I’m not much of an artist (see: Left), but having messed about with a Capacitive stylus on my phone I was very much looking forward to giving this a go. The SP2 certainly meets all my needs so far, So here’s the answers to a couple questions I had prior to upgrading:

  • Is it better with Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 – WINDOWS 10 – by a mile, it is much better at integrating between tablet and PC modes.
  • Is 1 USB Port enough? – NO at least I find it awkward.  I luckily had a USB hub, but if you want more than one thing plugged in at a time (Mouse+Keyboard, Mouse+External HDD) you’ll want to look into one of these, at least to keep near where you do most of your work.
  • Will it run:
    1. League of Legends – YES – at medium to low graphics, and with 30-60 fps, but damn it looks pretty on this high pixel density screen.
    2. Hearthstone – YES – but same problem as on mobile with inordinate battery use for a card game – Can we get a lower power version Blizzard?
    3. – More games to come –

The issues I’ve had with the Surface Pro 2 all revolve around the update process.  Part way through my W10 update, the computer just stayed black and on the ‘SURFACE’ booting screen.  After a few restarts and a lot of googling I pressed all the buttons in my exasperation.  This led me to discover that it had actually booted up, I just couldn’t see anything… I managed to navigate through Windows using Audio Description and my memory of where things probably were in the User Interface (“Pretty clever ngl” – Zandi, on my telling him how I did it.), until I did a clean restore of W10, giving me a fresh experience.

The other major issue I had was early on in use the Surface was prone to random crashes, that were usually tied to a change in keyboard state.  This was resolved in a firmware update after a few hours of running updates.

In all, three years after its release, the second hand price of the Surface Pro 2 is a bargain. If you are in the market for a laptop in the $400 range this is definitely the way to go.

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