Microsoft Surface 2 Needs More Apps

Microsoft Surface 2

People generally seem to like the new Microsoft Surface 2, BUT, they can;t use their favorite apps… so they are timid about making the jump.

Apps the issue for Microsoft Surface 2

The Australian News – “The new Surface 2 improves on last year’s Surface RT in almost every way.

The Surface 2 is quick by virtue of its up-to-the-minute Nvidia Tegra 4, four-core CPU. Apps open quickly, multi-tasking is smooth, video doesn’t stutter and, unlike the original RT, you can bash away on the optional Type and Touch Cover keyboards and not get ahead of the tablet’s processing power.

I tested the Surface 2 against the original RT model using the 3DMark Ice Storm cross-platform benchmark and it was no contest, with the new model racking up a score of 9531 on Ice Storm Extreme and 14,360 on Ice Storm Unlimited. The RT could only muster 2069 and 3276.

The 10.6-inch screen scores a major upgrade from 1366 x 768 pixel resolution to the 1920 x 1080 pixel screen used on the big brother Surface Pro 2.

It’s a sweet screen with deep blacks, vivid colours and a wide range of viewing angles, but not quite up to the standard of Apple’s Retina display on recent iPads.

Unlike an iPad, you can plug plenty of stuff into a Surface tablet. The new one gets a USB 3.0 port upgrade compared with USB 2.0 on the original and there’s a micro HDMI port for hooking up to bigger screens and projectors, as well as a micro SD card slot for boosting the memory beyond the supplied storage of 32GB or 64GB.

The front 3.5-megapixel and rear 5-megapixel cameras are way better than the just-get-you-by 1.2-megapixel cameras on the Surface RT and are capable of decent 1080p video recording.

The cameras are also designed to work well in low light, which comes in handy for video calls.

The Surface 2 is slightly lighter at 680g and a smidgin thinner. But ergonomically, the big news is Microsoft has given the Surface 2 a double-position kickstand with the second position making the gadget more lap-friendly.

I really like the kickstand, it comes in especially handy for bedtime reading where larger-screen tablets like the Surface 2 become tedious to hold for long periods.

Battery life is decent but not outstanding. Microsoft claims 10 hours of video playback time. I scored a bit better than that, running continuous video with the display at 85 per cent brightness. The gadget looks prettier too, with a silvery matt finish on the magnesium alloy casing replacing the fingerprint-magnet black on the RT.

Then there’s the accessories. The Surface 2 works with the new Touch Cover 2 and Type Cover 2 clip-on keyboards, which now come with backlighting and transform the device into an almost notebook.

Microsoft sells a small and portable, Bluetooth-connected Wedge Mouse if you want to go the whole hog into laptop operation.

The old Touch and Type covers also work on the Surface 2.

My pick for mobile working on a Surface is the Type Cover with its tactile, moving keys.

While the Surface 2’s hardware has improved at almost every level over the Surface RT, software, or a dearth of it, remains the big problem affecting the Surface 2 and other devices based on the Microsoft Windows 8.1 operating system. Apple and Android tablet owners not only have hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from, they are assured of scoring a version of pretty much every new game, social network platform utility, service or productivity app that arrives, or even temporary apps designed for one-off events like a rock concert or sporting event.

If you are using an RT device, there is no such comfort. Need iTunes? Forget it. Want another browser besides Internet Explorer? No can do.

The list goes on. Run the Sonos music system in your home? Sonos doesn’t do a control app for Windows RT or Windows Phone 8, although there is a pay-for-third-party Sonos app available.

The RT software library has grown over the past 12 months, with Microsoft claiming 100,000 apps on offer, and there are some great-looking Metro interface-style apps that work on the Surface 2, such as the showcase Fresh Paint app.

If you like Microsoft apps and services such as Skype messaging, Skydrive cloud storage and Xbox gaming, then you are well served and the integration is very good.

There is one killer app, from Microsoft’s point of view, that the Surface 2 packs for free and is unavailable on Apple and Android tablets and that is Microsoft Office, which now includes the all-important Outlook client.”

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