|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.
The 3rd International Internet of @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 its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 28, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,093
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,293
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. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,633
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,471
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,305
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. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,665
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,282
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,228
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,237
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,523
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,496
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,328
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,392
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,237
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,187
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,623
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. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,720
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. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,624
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. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,751
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. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,785