back to article 'Daddy, can I use the BLACK iPAD?': Life with the Surface Pro 2

“Daddy, can I use the black iPad?” my four-year-old daughter asks as she spots the Surface Pro 2 I'm reviewing for The Reg. She has, without knowing it, encapsulated Microsoft's problem on Surface in a nutshell. I’d been passing the Surface Pro 2 around to friends and family at a weekend gathering to garner their feedback. …

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Anonymous Coward

Re: unhelpful review

"use your mobile phone's camera and your cloud provider of choice to put the image on the tablet."

Or you could set up a personal wifi hotspot with your mobile phone and then upload the pictures from your wifi enabled DSLR camera... just saying, you don't need to be limited to the camera on a phone if you're serious about your photography!

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Windows

When's the review of Suface Pro 3?

I really like my Lenovo Yoga because it adds another screen to my work environment for web, email and office while I do real work on a full-fat mobile workstation.. It's like a Surface (even runs RT), but was cheaper. For a Surface Pro to be a replacement for the full-fat laptop, it needs to have a proper docking station that allows you to plug-in multiple monitors, keyboard, mouse and secure network... the Surface dock fails in this department (no multi-monitor support). The docking station should also allow you to fold near flat (in desktop mode) so the screen becomes a glorified touch-pad and provide DVI/VGA ports to use that stack of old screens every firm seems to have.. and PCI-Express-3 is the port to make it happen.

So, Surface Pro 3 could well be a really good rig; Surface 2 will be good once they get the pricing right (that means waking-up to "free touch cover")

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Zot

It doesn't just compete with Apple.

This competes against ALL laptop makers, but clearly the author is an iFan to start with.

It does seem like a nice piece of kit, and if I was in the market for a new laptop, I might have a look at it, as I don't want to buy an stupidly expensive, under powered MacBook.

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Devil

Re: It doesn't just compete with Apple, and this seems a little biased.

"It doesn't just compete with Apple, and this seems a little biased.

This competes against ALL laptop makers, but clearly the author is an iFan to start with."

Hardly unsurprising from El Reg Hacks tho?

Apple gives them a good seeing to and they lay a take it, they are so unbiased and objective!

Just laugh, everyone else ('cept those fanbois) do exactly that. After all, they can't be taken seriously.

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Silver badge
Stop

Re: It doesn't just compete with Apple.

Underpowered? You know that MacBooks use the same Haswell generation of Intel i processors as the Surface Pro? They even manage a pretty fair stab at running Windows code, either by dual boot or inside of a virtual machine. The Pro also ends up costing about the same (or more) than a MacBook Air.

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LDS
Silver badge

Re: It doesn't just compete with Apple.

Well, any Windows machine would easily run OSX if it wasn't forbidden by the Apple obsession for total control of their stack. After all it was Apple that had to move to Intel hardware already running Windows...

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Re: It doesn't just compete with Apple.

>>>It doesn't just compete with Apple.

>>>This competes against ALL laptop makers, but clearly the author is an iFan to start with.

Wasn't he responding to a company hack who claimed the target for this product was to replace the MBP?

Thats not biased, thats challenging their assertion. The opposite of biased.

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I didn't read the entire article

All I want to know is... does it support any decent 3rd party VPN connections? The original Surface Pro only supported MS VPN connections, no 3rd party support at all (from what I read anyway) and most VPN providers wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. Give me a product I can connect to home and work machines from with the added benefit of playing video plus web surfing and I'll buy it.

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Re: I didn't read the entire article

Um, it will support anything a normal WinTel box will run...

If you have your favorite VPN client on a Win8 box then it will run fine on a Surface. It's just a Windows 8.1 tablet, runs all x86 apps as it would if you shoved Win8.1 onto a desktop or laptop.

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Re: I didn't read the entire article

> " The original Surface Pro only supported MS VPN connections, no 3rd party support at all (from what I read anyway)"

What were you reading, CultOfMac or a Gavin "I don't know how to long-press" Clarke article?

The original Surface Pro ran anything that would run on x86 or AMD64 Windows. You were lied to.

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That elusive prosumer*

"Surface Pro 2 is for road warriors and desktop masters. So Microsoft would have us believe."

* See also hopeful Blackberry pronouncements.

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Anonymous Coward

"“Daddy, can I use the black iPad?” my four-year-old daughter asks as she spots the Surface Pro 2 I'm reviewing for The Reg. She has, without knowing it, encapsulated Microsoft's problem on Surface in a nutshell."

Us Brits always say "hoover" for vacuum cleaner. Even if your vacuum is a VAX (* other cleaners exist), you'll still call it a hoover. Even your Dyson (the Rolls Royce of vacuum cleaners) gets called a hoover.

We all know it’s not a "hoover" but a vacuum cleaner.

This colloquium is what all tablets will face, not just the surface.

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Silver badge

Good point,

Xerox used to spend a small fortune reminding the public to talk about photocopying rather than Xeroxing a document - not to much avail.

If the word iPad becomes genericised to the extent that even crappy tablets are called iPads then it is Apple that has the real problem disassociating its product from the junk.

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Trollface

Mine are all...

I have a variety of tablets (what?. I like gadgets!) and they are all PADDs. I was a Star Trek fan before I'd even heard of an iPad, and believe that the Roddenberry family should sue Apple for trademark infringement.

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Gold badge

Exactly. This is *Apple's* problem, not Microsoft's. Any tablet that does the job is good enough. It doesn't need to have a fruity logo on the back. If it doesn't, we'll still call it an iPad.

Back when an MP3 player was a separate thing (rather than a feature of your phone), the young things called *any* MP3 player an iPod. Tablets will be no different.

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Yet, who refers to their graphics card as a 3Dfx card anymore?

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How typical of you

Really nice article.

And it mentions certain things not specific to the Win 8 or Surface Pro, but that have been around with Microsoft software since always: complicated to install, and inconsistent in design. Seems most people only notice now that they see that others can do better.

Zane

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LDS
Silver badge

Re: How typical of you

The realm of complicated installs and inconsistent design is Linux.... not Windows.

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Still haven't seen a review yet adressing the key questions. Will it run full versions of Football Manager and Civ? Thats about the only productivity I'm interested in.

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Rock Paper Shotgun said it was good for playing XCOM on the toilet using just the stylus as a mouse replacement and Civ5 does have a touchscreen mode if that helps.

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Surface Pro 1 owner here, Civ works fine and has a touchscreen mode too. Not tried FM but I'd expect it to take a bit of time between turns.

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Was this a Harware review?

I 'm confused was this a review of the hardware or a how to use windows 8.1 with office 365 and related web apps.

At least half this "review" could have been done on any touchscreen PC/Laptop/Ultrabook with Windows 8.1 installed.

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FAIL

Too much of a reliance on MS to do basic tasks for my liking.

It phones home and / or needs to phone home. Too much "creepy lizard" for my liking. That and the Author's problems just navigating to a download, suggests MS want you to never stop using their servers and that isn't what portability or working while travelling is all about.

This bit says it all for me.

"The first hurdle is getting started and I need a Microsoft account before I can even use this machine. Each time it shuts down or suspends, I must enter a password to use it, and that password links back to the Microsoft account online. I need also accounts to use the really useful Microsoft icons on the Start screen - Skydrive and OneNote. Also, I need to subscribe to Office 365 to use the web versions of Office productivity apps even though the tablet comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote 2013.

I’m stuck in an exercise in backwards and forwards, of setting up accounts, of converting my Hotmail account, getting bounced between sign up and log in windows, of being told I don’t have the correct permissions to use Office 365 despite having just entered my credit card details""

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Re: Too much of a reliance on MS to do basic tasks for my liking.

And this is becoming a common trend, even beyond Microsoft. Look at OSX and its increasingly tight integration with iCloud. The crown benchmark of this has got to be The Great Ad-Monger's Chromebook - it hinges on Google's cloud services by design.

If you don't like it, stick to Windows 7 or something else like Linux.

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Most Productive Tablet Ever!

(Funny how the author of a review which explicitly states he does not own an iPad can be dismissed as an iFan.)

I have a gen-1 iPad inherited from the boss. I am puzzled by the notion of being productive on a tablet. Odd email, yes. YouTube gawking, certainly. Bit of web browsing, of course. If I twatted, I sure I would use if for that too.

But productive? It's the laptop or the desktop when I actually want to get anything done. Tablets are consumption devices, not generation devices. Man Of Spreadsheets is on the money.

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Silver badge

I want a decent Windows tablet

I just don't want to pay the stupid amounts of cash that Microsoft and other manufacturers are demanding for them.

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Really nice indeed, but will people ever care?

No.

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Stop stating patently wrong facts as truth!

Microsoft ARE NOT late to tablets. They were YEARS ahead of Apple.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-mobile_PC

Please try and do some research before stating $%^ like that.

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Re: Stop stating patently wrong facts as truth!

Late to tablets that anyone cared to use then.

Did you actually try to use the first gen tablets? We did a trial deployment with our app into a hospital. Leaving hardware reliability aside, doctors were literally (and I do mean literally) throwing them back at us because they were so frustrating to use. Hardware and UI were both a disaster. (I'm long gone, but as I understand it, the descendent of that medical software is now quite successful as an iPad app.)

If you want to do MS a favor, don't remind people about those early systems. Apple's real talent is knowing when to enter a market, which is after all the pioneers have died of arrows in their backs, and it's much clearer what the market wants. (I can mix that metaphor a bit more if you wish, sir.)

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Silver badge

Re: Stop stating patently wrong facts as truth!

> Microsoft ARE NOT late to tablets. They were YEARS ahead of Apple.

"""Apple's first tablet computer was the Newton MessagePad 100,[16][17] introduced in 1993, which led to the creation of the ARM6 processor core with Acorn Computers."""

> Please try and do some research before stating $%^ like that.

Likewise.

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LDS
Silver badge

Re: Stop stating patently wrong facts as truth!

"Apple's first tablet computer was the Newton MessagePad "

The Apple's talent of knowing when to enter a market... LOL!

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The Surface pro is way too much money. I got an Asus Vivotab Smart running full fat windows 8.1 for £300, £25 for a Medion Bluetooth keyboard and £25 for a Bluetooth mouse and I have all the tablet/computer I need. Why shell out so much for a Surface 2?

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If you are only in the market for an atom processor, low RAM and a middling 720p screen then yes a i5 Haswell CPU, 4GB RAM and a high quality full HD screen is too much.

The Surface Pro is an attempt to give you a desktop experience on a tablet and that's what you are paying for.

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J 3

"an attempt to give you a desktop experience on a tablet and that's what you are paying for"

...and not getting, if the reviews are to be believed.

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Power user for the Surface Pro 2

I look at the Surface Pro 2 differently from just another tablet. I don't want to be like batman, carrying a bunch of different devices (phone, tablet, laptop) as I travel and do my job. I work from home occasionally, from my local office and from other offices in the US and abroad. I want one device that does it all. The surface pro 2 with the keyboard and docking station and ability to drive 2 monitors solves my office/power user needs. The Surface Pro 2 with it's tiny form factor solves my travel needs (lighter than a laptop, more powerful than an Android or iPad). Add in LTE and Skype or another phone/VoIP app and we almost have 1 device that replaces the original 3. Add a BlueTooth headset and give the Surface Pro 2 the ability to wake when the phone app detects a call and I could consider this my ultimate machine. It's not quite there with the phone ability but certainly merges the tablet and PC together into a very nice form factor that is very powerful to boot. Combine this with the docking station and you have quite a converged device.

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Why I love the Surface

This video is actually very helpful for anyone considering, or who already owns a Surface. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG1b0yBJHLM

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Re: Why I love the Surface

Thanks for the link, a few more toys to play with there. Voice control works ok on the Surface RT but might need a headset to overcome external noise. Don't think the gfx on the RT will quite be up to the HD video and Halo challenge though, will leave that to the Surface 2. Would like to try the play-to DLNA functionality but my Bravia is as old as the hills. Perhaps a DLNA HDMI dongle could help there?

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Coat

Interesting review.

Although the iPad isn't really more than a consumer device, people liked them so much they tried to find ways of bringing them to work, thereby fooling Microsoft into believing in a market that doesn't really exist. And the other area of fail is that screen - working professionals do not like 16:9 as a screen ratio, as laptop reviews here have shown over and over again. The right size for a business laptop is about 14" with a 16:10 ratio. Giving this a 10" screen that's long and narrow is automatic failure for this market.

It's a shame that Microsoft's marketing dept has completely overlooked market research basics (or someone higher up the slippery pole refused to be told) and the result is a product that's potentially good, failing. By approaching marketing differently and fixing the screen ratio, even if they couldn't make it larger, this could have seen much more success. By making the new user experience as pleasant as that with a new Apple device they could have seen more still.

Microsoft has always been like this - I wonder if they'll change or disappear? Labcoat because they're still looking for the answer.

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Gold badge
WTF?

You have to have a MS account to use it.

F**k right off.

OTOH probably quite OK when you dump Windows and load a Linux distro.

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Re: You have to have a MS account to use it.

That's actually not true.

You have to have an MS account to use the MS services - just like you need a Google account to use their services - but you don't need one just to run the damn thing as a win8 tablet (which is what it is).

I presume Gavin didn't know this. It doesn't surprise me. As the Reg's "software guy", there's a lot he leaves out or just doesn't know.

This leads to outright falsehoods like this one propagated in his reviews.

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JC_

Re: You have to have a MS account to use it.

You have to have an MS account to use the MS services - just like you need a Google account to use their services - but you don't need one just to run the damn thing as a win8 tablet (which is what it is).

Technically true, but MS made it unnecessarily hard to find the option to create a local account rather than a MS account.

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Thumb Down

Nauseated

With all this licking up to the Apple playground I'm almost feeling a sympathy for M$.

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Anonymous Coward

Needs Microsoft account to use

Are you serious about this ? That's an immediate lost sale.

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Re: Needs Microsoft account to use

Yup. The multiple hassles around satisfying the elaborate artificial-scarcity engineering requirements make it a non-starter.

From all the captivity efforts built into the machine and OS, this sounds like MS is trying to reboot the '90s, via a slightly different path. No thanks.

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LDS
Silver badge

Because you can use an Android without a Google account?

Or an Apple without an Apple one?

Anyway you *can* use a Surface without a MS account (especially if you join it to a domain), just features needing it won't be available. Skydrive, Store, ecc. of course won't work. But it wasn't MS to start this crazy. It was Google and Apple.

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Re: Because you can use an Android without a Google account?

Not Google and Apple. Just Apple.

Granted, you won't get the Play Store without a Google account. You can however, dump whatever APK you like on the device, including things like the Amazon app store (or anybody else's app store).

It's amusing in a way. Apple wish they were Microsoft, and Microsoft wish they were Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Needs Microsoft account to use

Seems like no one here has ever used a Surface Pro 2 exept for the writer of the article, since no one mension wrong things in article. And why compare something like iPad vs Surface 2 or Macbook vs Surface Pro 2, if you havnt tried them both? Why write something that we other have to read that is nothing more than… what? All this "This sucks/this is the best"….

To me it's a tablet and a desktop. Not a laptop. Of course you cannot use it all the time with the small screen. But the purpose is - plug it in, use as a desktop, then take it with you and use it as a tablet, or a full-"size" computer with a small screen.

The best part of it to me, is the hand writing part with pen. Cmon, its from Wacom (leading on drawing tablets for animators/drawers).

Cameras on Surface is to me for taking picture on something I want to remember or "scan in", like a document I want to read, or a poster with dates I want to use. Not as taking awsume pictures :P

Apple vs Surface? I know quit some moving from OS X and Mac for Surface Pro 1/2.

And, the big wrong thing exept for somtimes saying Surface Pro 2, sometimes Surface, sometimes Surface 2, and Surface Pro, is that you absolutly dont need a Microsoft account to use it nor enter the password when screen gets black. If you have a password you only have to type it when it has been shut down (fix in settings).

I really like Apple's laptops (not Googles thougt), but can't say much about Windows during 10 years only being reduced from ~95 % share of computer OS to ~90 %. I think people ignoring, dispite alternatives Windows went up 17 % last quarter in profit. Apperently they are not doing so bad as people (this author) says, hopes, thinks. Microsoft is the black sheap everybody saying "it's so bad", apparently Microsoft is not doing that bad (anymore?).

And except from I-N-S-I-D-E specs - ffs it's not a Macbook Air 11". Can't handwrite "perfect", can't touch (screen). SP2 can't be as stable as a 11" laptop.

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What is this here in the comment section?? Apple's yard???

@author....

And you call this a "real" review?

You don't understand what a Surface is and your friend Alex is an Idiot for not understanding what the pro 2 can do.

It is my daily driver and let's me do everything ANYWHERE

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Alex probably doesn't realise you can dock the Pro 2 to a full size screen, keyboard and mouse and use it like a laptop. His perception was that the Pro 2 is similar to an iPad and the blurry distinction between the Surface & Surface Pro adds to the confusion. These are tragic marketing failures by Microsoft who are too busy trying to get down with the kids.

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Quick question: what's the difference between extended battery life during standby, and extended battery life during "off?"

Presumably it's down to boot versus no boot?

Point is, touting how long the battery lasts when not using a device seems a bit of a desperate reach for exciting features to tout.

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