|By Corey Roth||
|November 25, 2013 07:44 PM EST||
At MVP Summit this year, many of us were lucky enough to pick up a Surface 2 32 GB. As many of you know, I have been a die hard supporter of my Surface RT and I think it runs great with Windows 8.1. I simply love the connected standby and long battery life. While your buddy’s Surface Pro isn’t notifying them of E-mail because it’s asleep, my Surface 2 chimes every time I get one (except during the new quiet hours :) ). I also don’t have any desire to run Adobe Photoshop or Visual Studio on the device so sticking to the apps that are in the Windows Store works great for me. I’m thoroughly impressed with the device. Let’s take a look at some of the new features and differences and then you can decide if you want one for yourself.
Meet the new Surface (2). It looks similar on the front with a visible gray border from the casing.
The Surface 2 comes in it’s natural gray color with the word Surface prominently displayed on the back. I hope this leads to fewer people having to ask what the device is since they never had a clue what my Surface RT was. :) I don’t like the gray color as much as the black on the Surface RT but it’s not a deal break for me. If you are used to the smooth finish of the RT, you will notice that the back of the Surface 2 isn’t quite as smooth.
It features a two position kick-stand which I find highly useful when you have it sitting in your lap with a keyboard. Here is the traditional angle offered by Surface RT.
Here is the new couch friendly angle great for using Xbox SmartGlass with your new Xbox One.
The Surface 2 has upgraded cameras (3.5 megapixel front and 5.0 megapixel rear). I don’t think the camera is a huge selling point on any tablet device, but it’s a nice upgrade. This is mainly because all I ever did with the cameras was take pictures using OneNote and occasionally use it with Skype. The position of the camera and the ambient light sensor has varied some so if you have skinned your Surface RT, you’ll need a new one for your Surface 2. Luckily, these are quite cheap at the Microsoft store (around $15).
All of your Surface gen 1 accessories will still work including keyboards and power adapters. This makes it easy to transition to Surface 2. The connector on the power supply is slightly different. When connected it now has a colored ring which makes it easier to tell it is plugged in. It’s also a bit easier to get connected now as I often struggled when trying to plug in my Surface RT when in the dark. You can see the ring there on the side of this picture taken in the dark.
You may have heard about the new colorful type keyboards. They feature backlighting. Here’s an example of the purple (no it’s not mine :) ) Type Keyboard 2 with the key lit in the dark.
One of the biggest issues among bloggers and reviewers in the last year with Surface RT was the speed of the device. The device is particularly slow at times. This is especially noticeable when you have a number of apps open, especially Outlook RT (which we got with Windows 8.1). I have to say the Surface 2 is noticeably faster (night and day). The device is generally snappy and the mail app runs pretty quickly as do other apps. I can even keep Outlook RT running and the device doesn’t start to lag like I noticed before. For the speed alone, this device is worth the upgrade if you want an RT device.
The memory in the device is still 2 GB. This doesn’t prove to be a huge issue, but I do feel like the device can hit this value fairly quickly still when you have a lot of apps running. When this happens you’ll find Windows tombstoning (closing) more background apps than you care for.
Windows 8.1 makes it so easy to move from one device to another! When I first powered up the device and logged in it prompted me if I wanted to copy my settings from a previous device. I opted to copy the settings and through the magic of the cloud, my start screen reappeared with all of my familiar tiles. I only had to re-arrange a couple of tiles and it ended up looking exactly like my the start screen on my Surface RT. It recognizes which apps you had installed before and you can click on just click on the icons to get them downloading.
One thing to note. If you happen to buy your device when you are on the road, configuration at a hotel might be a minor issue. Typically the WiFi at hotels requires you to sign-in, enter a code, or click a button before you are online. The initial configuration experience doesn’t play well with this. To get around it, I fired up my MiFi and did the configuration with that device.
It doesn’t take long to get spoiled by the HD resolution (1920x1080). You start to notice this in places like the Start screen and on the desktop. When you go back to your Surface RT, you can really tell a difference. Windows automatically makes adjustments to the scaling so things are easier to read on the desktop, but if you have good ideas you can tweak the device to run at normal scaling and see some very small icons. Take a look at the screenshot of my desktop on the Surface 2. Compared to the Surface RT, you can see that more tiles fit on the screen horizontally.
Here’s the same start screen on my Surface RT. Notice how the last column of tiles gets cut off. Even the background image is cut off in places.
If you run Remote Desktop, you can run at the full 1920x1080 screen resolution. This allows you to see everything on the device, but I find that it’s a bit hard to use with touch because the pixels are so small. It’s fine if you use a mouse or the touchpad on one of the keyboards.
The app story keeps getting better for the Windows Store. At launch, we finally got Facebook and Flipboard. These were big apps that people had been waiting for (although you could always use Facebook in the browser just fine). Since, I have no desire to run Photoshop on my tablet (although you can run Photoshop Express :) ), I am quite happy with this device as a bridge between business productivity and fun and games. I never have understood why people used this particular application to judge the success of the Surface. It’s not like IOS can run it.
I opted for the 32 GB this time as that was what is available. I also had a Surface RT 32 GB for a while and never really had an issue with storage. Movies and videos can be offloaded to the SDXC card. Documents can be stored in SkyDrive with the included free 200 GB of storage for 2 years. I don’t suspect storage space will be an issue at all.
The Surface 2 features the same SDXC card slot but it has been moved down slightly making it easier to reach. One thing to note about this slot is that when you slide the card in, it will actually click twice. If you only hear it click once, then it will not be detected. Push it in further, and you’ll hear another click and Windows should detect it.
Another common complaint of the speakers of Surface RT is that they just aren’t that loud. I never found this to be an issue since I always paired my Surface with a Jambox (or other Bluetooth speaker). As far as speakers go, I would say Surface 2 is pretty comparable. I did a few tests between the two devices and couldn’t tell any noticeable difference at max volume. The Surface 2 adds an additional microphone. This should help for conference calls using Skype when not using a headset.
The Surface 2 now features a USB 3.0 port whereas Surface RT only has a USB 2.0 port. This is a nice improvement but I never found it to be a blocker on my Surface RT. I haven’t found myself copying large files off of external hard drives or anything like that. It’s still a nice upgrade. Surface 2 still features a Micro HDMI port out. I would like to see Surface and Surface Pro use the same port at some point.
The battery life with Surface RT was already ridiculously awesome. I had no issue exceeding the quoted 8 hour battery life on a regular basis. The story with Surface 2 is even better. It’s quoted at 10 hours when playing video and I bet it can do even longer. I have had no issues with battery at all yet. The nice thing about RT devices is that they also charge rather quickly as well. They can usually charge in just over 2 hours or so.
No device is perfect, but this one is pretty nice. I have encountered a few minor issues but I have been able to work around them. I noticed the first issue when I was on the airplane home. I plugged my headphones in and couldn’t get any sound to work. When visiting the Manage Audio Devices control panel, I would receive an error related to the drivers. This has seemed to resolve itself though since I have gotten home. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again.
The other issue I have also affected my Surface RT. About once a week (maybe more), I find that Surface refused to turn on. Pressing the Windows button will vibrate but pressing the Power button does not turn the screen on. When this happens, you can hold the Power button for an extended period of time and it might turn on. However, sometimes the only reliable way to get it to power back on is to plug it into external power and then hold the Power button for a bit. I have only had this happen once on the Surface 2. I was hoping this issue wouldn’t follow us to the new device but it looks like it may be there. It’s not a huge deal, but it is a bit of an inconvenience.
Now that I have a Surface 2, I have noticed that my Surface RT is not staying charged. If I leave it unplugged, the next day it will be completely dead. I’m not really sure the cause (maybe power settings), but I suspect it is due to jealousy of the new kids on the block. :)
I think the one thing I want from Surface Pro (no not the x86/x64 apps) is the stylus. Although I don’t see myself using a stylus a lot, I would love to see that functionality make it’s way to the RT line of devices. I was hoping that would make it into this version, but who knows there is always the next revision.
There is a reason why the next generation of Surface is flying off the shelves. They are nice devices. If you aren’t looking for a highly productive business device that can do some great consumer tasks, this device is for you. If you have expectations of turning it into a developer tool or running your 15 year old software then go buy a Pro. If you have been holding off to buy a Surface, go buy a Surface 2 now. I have even heard the most skeptics of colleagues, bloggers, and tech writers totally pull a 180 on this device. This is a device to be had!
Follow me on twitter: @coreyroth.
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 22, 2014 03:45 PM EST Reads: 725
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 22, 2014 03:45 PM EST
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 22, 2014 03:30 PM EST Reads: 1,058
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Nov. 22, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,266
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 21, 2014 09:15 PM EST Reads: 1,176
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,262
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,178
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 21, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,138
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Nov. 20, 2014 11:00 PM EST Reads: 1,260
Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
Nov. 20, 2014 09:15 PM EST Reads: 1,281
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 20, 2014 07:30 PM EST Reads: 1,458
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
Nov. 20, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,242
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 20, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 993
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
Nov. 20, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,477
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Nov. 20, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 1,715
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Nov. 18, 2014 09:00 PM EST Reads: 1,966
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
Nov. 18, 2014 08:15 PM EST Reads: 1,522
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
Nov. 18, 2014 08:15 PM EST Reads: 1,459
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Nov. 18, 2014 01:30 PM EST Reads: 1,970
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world. The next @ThingsExpo will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, California. Since its launch in 2008, Cloud Expo TV commercials have been aired and CNBC, Fox News Network, and Bloomberg TV. Please enjoy our 2014 commercial.
Nov. 13, 2014 05:00 AM EST Reads: 3,516