Surface Pro 2 may be the laptop replacement you’re looking for

I picked up the original Microsoft Surface RT tablet during the summer and, try as I might, I just couldn’t get it to replace my laptop. However, with the new Surface Pro 2, nearly every point that kept me from leaving my laptop at home has dissipated.

In fairness, much of the reasons had to do with moving from a Surface running the limited Windows RT OS (only apps in the Windows app store can run) to running a Surface with a full version of Windows 8. One of the first things I did after opening up the Surface 2 and connecting to Wi-Fi was to download Chrome, my go-to browser than isn’t available for Windows RT. Still, there are some notable improvements between the first and second generation Surface Pro tablets that have created an improved user experience.

Some come with the update to Windows 8.1, and so are available to the original Surface users as well. For example, Microsoft Outlook has been added to the onboard Office suite. The return of the (sort of) start button and the ability to boot to the desktop are welcome additions to those who want to use the Surface tablet as a laptop first, and tablet second.

Physically the Surface Pro 2 isn’t much different from its predecessor. It measures 10.81×6.81×0.53”, with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1920×1080 resolution display, weighing-in at about 2 lbs. The internal hardware is souped-up though, with 4GB and 8GB RAM options available, and internal storage capacity starting at 64GB and scaling all the way up to 512GB. It’s powered by a 4th generation Intel Core i5 processor and has an improved battery, doubling battery life to about eight hours of continuous usage. Also notable: the Surface Pro 2’s kickstand has two angles, to the previous generation’s one.

If you bought the first generation Surface Pro, there’s not really a compelling reason to run out and buy the Surface Pro 2 – the difference isn’t that great, other than the battery life improvement. Just upgrade to Windows 8.1 and use it for a few more years. If you find the Surface RT too limiting though, that’s another story.

Back to the original premise, though. Is the Surface Pro 2, with one of the available click-in magnetic keypads or typecovers — the laptop replacement you’re looking for? It may well be. It has the power and storage of an ultrabook, and can run any Windows-based app you could want. And it has the portability and form factor of a tablet.

Just one of my original barriers to ditching the laptop remains: while it’s great when I have a flat surface like a desk, how do I balance the darned thing on my lap with the typecover in laptop mode? Unless you can manage with using the onscreen keypad for your in-lap note taking; that one may well be unsolvable.

The Surface Pro 2 is available now starting at $899 from select Microsoft partners.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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