Back in my callow youth, I used to lease all my cars because I loved the thrill of driving a new vehicle every two or three years.
I was on my third or fourth lease when I happened upon a vehicle that I really liked. So when my short term was up, I decided I definitely wanted to drive the same make again.
Unfortunately, since only two years had elapsed, the style hadn’t changed much and I couldn’t afford to step up to a higher-end model. So I settled for the same make and model.
I’m sure that new vehicle had a different paint job, but it was one of the least satisfactory new car experiences I’d ever had. It smelled nice and fresh, but it felt so familiar. And worse, I don’t think anyone I knew ever noticed I was driving a different car.
I’ve had many tech upgrade experiences like that too. It’s almost inevitable when you absolutely have to have the latest and greatest: many under the hood changes that sound so good on paper are barely perceptible in real world use.
My Surface Pro 2 finally arrived a couple of hours ago and as reviews have been popping up around the web since Sunday, I’ve been sorely tempted to write this post sight unseen. Because I knew exactly what I was going to think about the Surface Pro 2 intellectually and how I was going to react to it emotionally. Because I’ve been here before: it’s the same way I felt the first time I spent God-knows-how-much to upgrade my 68000 Amiga to a 68020 processor.
“Is that all there is?”
The Surface Pro 2 addresses most of the internal issues I’d had with the original: it’s faster, with a more efficient Haswell processor, it has twice as much RAM and twice as much storage space. And it even features the nice touches of a dual position kickstand, a brighter, more accurate display and Dolby audio.
It is a great device that any Windows artist should have in his or her mobile arsenal.
But it looks almost exactly the same as the original and it’s impossible to tell them apart unless you turn them over to inspect the kickstand: Windows logo on the first model, Surface emblazoned proudly on the new one.
That’s it. No racing stripes, no new tail lights.
The Surface Pro screen is still an inch or two smaller than I’d like. The tablet is still a bit thicker and heavier than it ought to be. And its sharp front and rear edges don’t invite caressing like some competitors’ tablets do.
So a certain feeling of letdown is inevitable. For about $400 more than my first tablet cost, just a few skin deep alterations might have helped ease this buyer’s remorse.
The good news is that I'm confident this feeling will pass. Once my docking station arrives, the Surface Pro 2 will be my primary workstation for any project that doesn’t require discrete graphics. That’s a lofty goal that I would never have dreamed of setting for my original.
So in a couple of months’ time, will I regret the upgrade? I don’t think so. And knowing tech cycles, I'll probably be looking forward to the Surface Pro 3.
Do I recommend the Surface Pro 2? Absolutely. For the moment, it is the best and most affordable Windows 8 mobile creative solution available.
Should you upgrade from the Surface Pro? There’s the rub. If you feel at all constrained by the limited RAM or storage, yes. If money’s no object, yes. But if you want better battery life, the $200 power cover may be a wiser use of your money. And if it's only about the allure of the latest and greatest, keep your money in your pocket for a while longer to see what other options appear on the horizon.
Over the next few days, I’ll be running benchmarks and installing all my graphics applications to ensure that they’re still compatible and I’ll publish those findings as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you’ve gotten your Surface Pro 2, I’d appreciate hearing from you and reading your thoughts.