by Tony Rushin
Microsoft may have gotten it right with the Surface Pro 2 – at least in one category: replacing your laptop. Last year Microsoft introduced Windows 8, the Surface RT and the Surface Pro – all of which took off like a lead balloon. Windows 8 was confusing and clumsy and the Surface RT was a bad tablet.
As I wrote about a few months ago (“Is the Laptop Dead?”), the Surface Pro was the only tablet that may be able to take the place of a laptop. However, the Surface Pro definitely had some weaknesses, most notably battery life (“The Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet: Love It or Loathe It?”). The Surface Pro 2, released on September 23rd, fixed the battery life (9 hours versus 5 hours) and also has a faster processor, more configurations of memory and hard drives and comes with Windows 8.1 preload (8.1, with the ability to boot up to a Windows 7-like desktop, is a big improvement over 8.0).
Many of our clients are now testing out the Surface Pro 2 as a replacement for their laptop. Many are attorneys – where the obvious advantage is that it runs the full repertoire of Windows-based software including Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Acrobat Pro. The early feedback is good from our early adopter clients. And that includes clients using the Surface Pro 2 as a traditional laptop as well as clients using it to connect to their Citrix or VMware Horizon View virtual desktop. Here’s what we love, what we loathe and what’s unknown about the Surface Pro 2 as compared to an Ultrabook laptop.
- Weight: only 2 pounds
- Form factor: even thinner than an Ultrabook
- Price: starts at $899 but you’ll want some accessories – 128GB solid state drive, wireless keyboard & mouse, docking station, adapter to drive dual monitors, upgraded 2-year warranty including accident protection. With these additions expect to pay about $1,600 which is still less than the $2,000 you’d pay for a similarly configured Ultrabook.
- Windows 8.1 (vs. buying an open license and downgrading to Windows 7 on an Ultrabook). The interface is not intuitive and there’s a steep learning curve. However, if you’re using it primarily to connect to your Citrix or VMWare Horizon View desktop, this won’t be a problem.
- Keyboard: not the same feel as an Ultrabook. If you’re using it mainly in the office with a docking station you’ll be using a regular keyboard, which will work fine.
- Screen size: smaller than an Ultrabook (10.6” vs. 14”). This is the trade-off for light weight and small form factor. If you use it mainly in the office with a full-sized single or dual monitors this won’t be a problem.
- Confusion with the name: Microsoft is now selling a Surface (which used to be called the Surface RT), Surface 2 (still an RT version) and Surface Pro 2. The Pro 2 is the only one to consider as a laptop replacement.
- Durability: hasn’t been out long enough yet. (For business use we strongly recommend that you purchase the 2-year warranty with accident protection)
- Windows 8: will Microsoft keep improving it? Based on history, the answer is “yes” – but how quickly?
Time to upgrade your laptop? If you’re an attorney, financial planner or executive, you should consider the Microsoft Surface Pro 2.