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How the Surface Pro 2 became my favorite computer

Tony Bradley | Jan. 16, 2014
A funny thing happened to me when I started playing around with a Surface Pro 2: It became my favorite computer.

Microsoft offers the Touch Cover and Type Cover keyboard covers as optional add-ons, but they're really necessities. I needed some sort of protective cover for the tablet display while mobile anyway, and the keyboard covers let me use the Surface Pro 2 like an Ultrabook when I choose.

Both covers work well enough, but I struggled at times with the less-tactile keys on the Touch keyboard cover. I also found the Touch Cover a bit flimsy when trying to use it on my lap, so I prefer the Type Cover even though it's a little thicker and heavier. With the Type Cover, the Surface Pro 2 is still lighter and thinner than most Ultrabook or hybrid options, and the cover folds all the way back when I just want to use the device as a tablet.

The original Surface Pro had battery life that was mediocre at best. The two or three hours' worth of juice put it on a par with most comparable laptops but made it woefully inadequate as a PC replacement. The Surface Pro 2, however, has vastly improved hardware that lets me get through days of working in the field without needing to recharge.

One surprise for me with the Surface Pro 2 was the digitizer pen. I'm not a fan of styluses in general, and I get along on my smartphone and tablet just fine using my finger. A stylus just seems like an unnecessary appendage waiting to get lost (as I learned after purchasing more than my fair share of replacements for my kids' Nintendo DS devices).

The Surface Pro 2's digitizer pen isn't just a passive stylus, though. It mimics the functionality of a mouse or touchpad to some extent, making it easier to click and drag, copy and paste, and perform other functions when using the Surface Pro 2 in tablet mode. It also lets me write notes right on the display.

After-hours entertainment
The Surface Pro 2 is definitely not a gaming machine, but it works fine for my purposes — I'm not a hard-core gamer, and I don't pay much attention to frame rates like my kids do. I was able to install Steam and play Terraria with respectable performance. I didn't experience any notable glitches or lag. My only complaint is that interacting with the game using just the touchscreen display was challenging at times, but with a mouse or touchpad I didn't have any problems. It also works as well as any other platform when it comes to playing simpler games like Tetris or Angry Birds. I could detect no difference between the graphics of the Surface Pro 2 and those of any other Windows PC that isn't built specifically for gaming.

 

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