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Microsoft Surface 2 4G – stylish Windows tablet cuts the WiFi tether with a fast mobile Internet upgrade [Review]


The new Microsoft Surface 2 4G tablet computer is the latest in the line of Windows tablets from the Redmond giant, but this time it comes with the neat addition of high speed mobile Internet built in, which means you can tablet yourself anywhere you can find a cell signal. Goodbye to the WiFi ball and chain.


First impressions
The product comes in a typically stylish pack, with all the usual Microsoft branding in full flow. What’s a little surprising is how little the big box actually contains, with just the tablet, a power lead and a very small, you might almost say tiny user manual. The company could have cut down on the packaging by half and still had space left over for a small chicken taco. But we’re bing being churlish.

The tablet itself is very well built, sturdy, and while it’s slightly thicker than most alternatives of this type, we’re guessing that’s a function of the Nvidia Tegra 4 chipset inside. As you’d expect the specifications are pretty solid, with a 10.6 inch full HD (1920x1080p) 16:9 touchscreen, 64GB of internal storage, 2 GB RAM, the aforementioned Tegra 4 1.7GHz processor and a weight of around 1.5 lbs.


Along with all this, you get a battery with up to 10 hours of video playback, WiFi of course, high speed microSDXC support, a high speed USB 3.0 socket, a bunch of typical sensors and that 2G, 3G, 4G LTE micro SIM card slot. Nice stuff. Surprisingly no GPS though, and only a 5 megapixel main camera, which probably reflects the fact that this is aimed squarely at the business end of the market.

In use
What can we say? It’s a Windows tablet, with all that entails. As you’ll see from the video above, it’s got the immediate advantage of being familiar to anyone who uses a Windows desktop or laptop computer, so the learning curve is flat as a pancake. The company has loaded it with Windows RT 8.1, which is the bang up to date version of the platform, and while Windows on a tablet is definitely an acquired taste (we have to confess we’re not fully comfortable with it as yet), it does most things you’ll want or need, especially since it’s fully loaded with a bunch of standard apps, including Office 2013 RT.


Unlike some of the more under powered Android (and indeed Windows) tablet computers that we’ve tested, the Surface 2 definitely holds its own on the performance front, with a stonking great 14200 benchmark figure on the 3D Mark tool. Which translates into effortless browsing, gaming and video performance in all areas. However there’s no denying that Windows does take a toll on processors, so we couldn’t say it’s any snappier for standard system navigation than say a standard Android tablet.

However we were very impressed with the sheer speed of browsing under 3G mobile Internet, as you’ll see the browser fairly flew, and it handled video brilliantly via the cellular connection as well. We couldn’t test 4G because we’re not in a zone which supports it, but if our 3G experience is anything to go by, users will be very pleased with the performance of the tablet out and about on the streets and away from WiFi.


And boy do we like that keyboard. The Type Cover 2 backlit keyboard snaps magnetically into place with more style than a Space Shuttle docking to the ISS, and stays stuck no matter what. And the keyboard itself is a real delight to use, with perfectly spaced keys and just the right amount of feel and travel to make touch typing a breeze. Top marks all round for this accessory, especially since it adds very little to the overall weight and form factor of the tablet. Nice.

We have to say that the Surface 2 4G really does feel like a step up from some of the other Windows tablet computers we’ve tried, and the addition of that superb keyboard takes it up a notch further. As we said, we’re still not convinced with Windows as a tablet operating system, there are just too many little annoying quirks, which could either be because of our inexperience, or simply because Microsoft has a habit of doing annoying things with its products in general.


For example, why on earth reinvent the power cable attachment and make it proprietary, so you have to carry around yet another charger, instead of just using a microUSB connector? Maybe it’s a technical reason, but whatever it sucks. But we’ll forgive them this time because of the keyboard. We’re suckers for great ergonomics. So overall, this is really nice product, and class leading in a lot of ways. Fast mobile Internet, great all round office worker with that keyboard (have we said that already?) and a solid high speed 3D processor make it a winner for anyone who’s serious about their office tablet needs.

Price: £539 / $449


CPU & Wireless
Chip: NVIDIA Tegra 4 (T40) 1.7 GHz Quad Core
Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
Bluetooth 4.0 technology
2G GSM (Quadband: 850/900/1800/1900)
3G UMTS (Bands 1, 2, 5, 8) UK
4G LTE (Bands 3,7, 20) UK

Storage & Memory

Screen: 10.6 inch
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (widescreen)
Touch: 5-point multi-touch
Durable display

Battery Life
Up to 10 hours of video playback
7-15 days idle life
Charges in 2-4 hours with included power supply

Camera,Video & Audio
Two video cameras on front and back
3.5 megapixel front-facing camera
5.0 megapixel rear-facing camera
Two microphones
Stereo speakers with Dolby sound

Full-size USB 3.0
microSDXC card reader
microSIM card slot (4G LTE)
Headphone jack
HD video out port
Cover port

Ambient light sensor

Windows RT 8.1, Microsoft Office 2013 RT2
Dimensions: 10.81 in (275 mm) x 6.79 in (173 mm) x 0.35 in (8.9 mm)
Weight: Less than 1.51 lbs (685 grams)
Integrated Kickstand: Dual-position (display angled to 24 degrees or 40 degrees)

Skype5 Offer with Purchase: One year of Unlimited World calling to landlines in over 60 countries, and unlimited Skype WiFi at over 2 million hotspots.
OneDrive9 Offer with Purchase: 200GB free storage for two years. Free Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote Web Apps in your browser.

1-year limited hardware warranty

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