Surface 2 Review: Not Great for Casual Use
This is not an unattractive tablet, even if it’s not one of the best tablets. I don’t think I’ve seen a Surface 2 review that complains about the visual appeal.
The back fooled me — it feels like plastic, but is actually a magnesium alloy. It’s not as flashy as the aluminum treatment Apple’s (AAPL) iPads get, but it definitely doesn’t come off as cheap.
The 16:9 aspect ratio Microsoft chose for the Surface 2 is a bit odd, though. The tablet is happiest in landscape mode where HD movies look great and don’t have the letterboxing you’ll see on an iPad; working in Office gives you a full page width. The flip stand only works in this mode, so clearly that was what Microsoft had in mind.
But landscape mode means the tablet is too wide to comfortably hold in one hand for casual use like web browsing and casual gaming. Hold it in portrait mode instead (as most people naturally do), and it seems too tall and narrow.
Windows RT 8.1 has a few improvements over the initial release as well. As a result, the Surface 2 is easy to pick up and interact with, even for someone who’s accustomed to iPads or tablets running Google’s (GOOG) Android. When I received the Surface 2 review unit from Microsoft, I was up and running within minutes.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Story has been corrected to reflect Surface’s magnesium back. We apologize for the error.