Random Review: Surface Pro 2

I’ve had a Surface since they originally came out.  I bought a day one Surface RT of my own, and used it all the time.  I really liked the idea of the surface pro, but since it had like half the battery life of the RT, at like twice the expense.  But when the surface pro 2 was announced, it was with a much more efficient Intel i5 “Haswell” processor with much better battery life.  And much more available memory. And a much bigger drive.  So I pre-ordered the Surface Pro 2 with 8g of ram and the 256g drive.  After using it for several months now, as a tablet, a laptop (and now as my entire desktop replacement!), here’s my bullet item pros and cons random review.


  • can run everything windows!
    • Being full windows, not windows RT, I can run pretty much every app I’ve ever needed ever.  Although, aside from doing development or playing games, I’m finding that there are windows store apps for almost everything I need.
  • this means Steam games are “game on!”
    • Shadowrun Returns plays great with pen and touch input.
    • I’ve also played Star Wars: The Old Republic on it as well, although I do have to set scaling to 100% or the UI gets confused and clicking doesn’t go where you think it does!
  • visual studio!  I can use this as a dev box!
    • In fact, I have to, since my old desktop machine doesn’t have hardware capable of running the windows phone emulator.  But the surface pro does, so I can work on phone apps and windows apps.
  • skydrive OneDrive integration is awesome
    • except that it now requires sign in with a microsoft account, you can’t even open the app at all on a domain joined machine at work (which is probably safer, since you can’t accidentally save stuff there when you should be saving to Skydrive Pro OneDrive for Business at work anyway…
  • Windows Live Writer!  I still don’t understand why there’s no version of live writer for Win8 yet.  that would be even better
    • plus, you can set the drafts directory to OneDrive, and POOF you have those synchronized across machines too
      • to do this, using regedit, go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\Writer, and add a new string value “PostsDirectory”, and point it to whatever directory under your C:\Users\[user]\SkyDrive\Documents folder that you want to be your live writer “cache”.  (since the name change, I haven’t checked to see if they’ve also re-named the directory or not!)
      • then, in that directory, right click the folder and set its Skydrive settings to “Available offline”.  without this step, writer didn’t seem to see the posts synced from the other machine.
    • You can also use 2 finger zooming to zoom in on the text part of live writer, even though there doesn’t appear to be any mention of zooming anywhere.  I’ve read some things online that said ctrl-+ or alt-+ used to zoom, but that only worked for zoom out for me, and I found 2 finger zoom gesture by accident. But it does work awesome!
  • Pen input is pretty cool.  I wish i could draw better!
    • I use it  all the time to take notes in meetings, and then using the ink to text features of onenote, it is (mostly) turned into searchable notes.  about the only thing that I have had problems with for that is if I underline or cross out things, that ink stays behind but doesn’t match up with the text anymore.  that can be confusing.
    • The pen also works very well in Shadowrun Returns. 
  • Surface Pro dock + USB3, ethernet!
    • I Have the SP2 hooked up to a 10 port USB3 hub when I’m at home.  Attached to this hub is a USB3 blu-ray drive, a USB3 hard drive enclosure with a bunch of drives in it, and various other random things, like the fitbit dock thing.  Also, standard keyboard and mouse.  
    • Also, hooked up through minDV to a big monitor, so when I work from home, the SP2’s touch screen is always showing outlook and lync (or skype), and the bit monitor is remote desktop’d into one of my machines running VS


  • gets a little hot when running games
  • noticeably heavier than a Surface
  • the new type keyboard doesn’t have physical buttons on the cover’s trackpad, so I didn’t get one.  I’m still using the type cover 1 on my Surface Pro 2, and the touch cover 1 on our Surface RT. 
  • the multi monitor scaling support on windows 8.1
    • It doesn’t make any sense to me!  Supposedly, by unchecking the “Let me choose one scaling level for all my displays”, it does some kind of different scaling per monitor.  But there’s no independent settings for each monitor?  When in this mode, I want the SP2’s screen scaled up to the 150% (default) setting, so I can use touch more effectively.  But I want the external monitor completely unscaled.  This doesn’t appear to be possible.  No matter what I choose, things on the secondary monitor are sometimes scaled, sometimes blurry.  Office does one thing, Windows does its own thing.  The taskbar gets scaled up, like it it is on the main monitor.  I don’t understand why there isn’t an explicit scaling setting on each monitor on the “Screen Resolution” control panel.  It seems that windows is trying to guess what I want, instead of letting me tell it explicitly what I want. 
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