|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 Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Dec. 1, 2015 06:30 AM EST Reads: 513
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Dec. 1, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 359
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
Dec. 1, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 620
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Dec. 1, 2015 04:45 AM EST Reads: 458
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 470
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 469
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
Dec. 1, 2015 01:15 AM EST Reads: 125
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
Nov. 30, 2015 03:45 PM EST Reads: 115
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Nov. 30, 2015 03:15 PM EST Reads: 250
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Nov. 30, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 496
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 30, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 375
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
Nov. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 439
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
Nov. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 440
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Nov. 30, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 542
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Nov. 30, 2015 12:45 PM EST Reads: 346
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Nov. 30, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 468
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
Nov. 30, 2015 10:30 AM EST Reads: 361
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Nov. 30, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 304
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Nov. 30, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 513
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Nov. 30, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 574