The new Microsoft Surface 2 is the company's second effort at a Windows RT tablet, though somewhat confusingly, they've dropped the RT from the product name. It has the same cool design, VaporMg casing and optional magnetic keyboards as the first generation, but there are some improvements inside. The tablet runs on the new quad core NVIDIA Tegra 4 CPU (the last gen was Tegra 3) and that makes for more spritely performance with no slowdowns or hiccups. It has a full HD 1920 x 1080 display rather than 1366 x 768, so everything looks downright sharp and pleasing. The lone USB port is 3.0 and you still have a micro HDMI port for video out.
Outside the color has changed to silver and the tablet has gotten a little lighter at 1.4 lbs., though the just announced 1 lb. iPad Air makes it seem heavy (imagine, the iPad used to be the heavyweight tablet among 10" products). It's slim at 0.35" and the back kickstand now offers two positions, 25 and 40 degrees, so it's easier to use on your lap or on a low table. As ever, just like its big brothers the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, it's what we call aspirational hardware: it looks so stunning, modern and unique that you feel gadget lust at first sight. The updated Touch and Type covers are still innovative and a great way to protect the display while adding a full keyboard and mouse pad with little weight. Better yet, they add backlight and an improved typing experience-- particularly the Touch Cover is now a dream to use.
Itís no secret that the press has done their best to declare the original Microsoft Surface RT a dead on arrival product. Some users have too. Why? Not because of the elegant and high quality hardware, but because the RT version of Windows 8 doesnít run exe programs like Adobe Photoshop CS or CC, Battlefield 3 or anything else designed for regular Windows. The Windows Store has come a long way in the year since Surface RT launched, and now we have 100,000 Metro apps to choose from, improving RTís chances. You see, Windows RT 8.1 looks and acts just like Windows 8.1 but it only runs third party apps from the Windows Store. Still, for the productivity-minded who spend considerable time in the bundled MS Office suite (you get Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook for free), want the familiar Windows experience and Internet Explorer along with Adobe Flash, the Surface 2 has defininte appeal.