Back in 2010, I became a first adopter of the original iPad, which was the device that started the tablet computer craze. I liked the device for the fact that I can surf the Internet, read e-books, watch Youtube, check twitter and stuff without having to drag a laptop along. Of course, tablets got more powerful since one can now view fansubs without converting them (even 10 bit providing that you have the latest tablet and the right player) and even write a post using the native WordPress interface with image uploading. While tablets won’t replace a laptop for some tasks, they are handy when you are on the move.
On the other hand, when Apple decided to leave the original iPad behind for iOS 6 even though it can probably handle it. Since I got frustrated with my Livescribe pen, which is a device I use to take notes during class and transfer them to the computer, I need a tablet with an active digitizer. After reading about the capabilities Kai’s tablet can do, I decided on getting a Windows 8.1 tablet, particularly the new Surface Pro 2 Microsoft released last year.
I admit that while I have a love/hate relationship with Microsoft, Windows 8, especially with Windows 8.1 they recently release works better on a tablet, possibly better than Android. Since Surface Pro 2 basically have a Intel Core i5 in it and it runs a full operating system, you can pretty much install any software on it such as CCCP, Firefox, Photoshop, LibreOffice (if you don’t want Office), any visual novels, etc. In addition, you also have access to all the touch-optimized applications in the Windows Store. While I managed to find the official Twitter client and a third-party Youtube application, I spend most of my time at the desktop. However, I had to change the DPI settings to 150% to make the desktop applications somewhat usable for touch.
Blogging, Photoshop and Anime Viewing Experience
Compared to my iPad, it’s a lot harder in my opinion to blog on for the fact that you couldn’t upload images prior to iOS6 using the native WordPress interface. While Apple eventually added that feature, taking snapshots of the video file and uploading them is another feat. On my Surface Pro 2, I can do exactly the same like I did on a normal laptop. However, using only touch and the on-screen keyboard when typing a new post and proofreading it can be a painful experience, mostly because Office 2010 is not touch optimized (Libreoffice will probably have the same problem). Selecting text is a bit cumbersome as one have to double tap and then drag your finger. With the pen however, it’s a lot easier to do this.
On the other hand, this tablet shines when you use it for Photoshop with the included pen. Since the Surface Pro has a Wacom Active Stylus, you can have pressure sensitivity after installing the required drivers. After using Photoshop to replace the Kinect with a tablet with Vert in it, being able to manipulate an image directly on the screen is a better experience than using a separate graphics tablet and looking at the screen. The same applies when you use it in Onenote as you can write your notes directly on the screen.
As for watching fansubs, I find it a pleasurable experience. Using the kickstand to stand the Surface Pro up, I watched three episodes of Nagi no Asukara played over a network share using the included Media Player Classic in CCCP. The picture and sound are excellent with absolutely no lag while using Power Saver option. As for streaming services such as Crunchyroll, while there is no native application, you can simply use the web browser since Internet Explorer 11, Firefox and Chrome has Adobe Flash.
After using it just as a slate tablet, it’s definitely one of the most powerful and capable tablets out there, beating the Samsung Note 10 and the iPad. However, this comes at a cost of battery life. While it’s only a bit heavier than the original iPad, it only lasted about six to six and half hours with Power Saver turned on. It’s somewhat disappointing for the fact that people managed to have it last eight hours. Even so, it’s on par with my 2012 MacBook Pro that has a beefy Core i7 in it and weighs three pounds more.
For anime bloggers, would I recommend the Surface Pro 2? If you do a lot of Photoshop, fanart and such, it will work great because it comes with a Wacom pen and it’s cheaper than a Cintiq. Otherwise, most will probably be better off getting the cheaper Intel Atom Windows 8 tablets as they carry slightly beefier processors while being more affordable and can handle the same thing.
While one can buy a Type/Touch cover and use it as a hybrid laptop, I don’t recommend it because the screen is simply too small, for me at least (I need at least a 15 inch laptop to be productive). If you consider the higher configurations (512 GB SSD and 8GB of memory) with the keyboard cover, you may as well buy an Intel Atom Windows Tablet (or a tablet of your choice) and a regular laptop. Still, if you have access to the discount and compare it with the highest capacity Wifi iPad, for 10 dollars more, I think the Surface Pro 2 is a pretty solid choice, especially for its capabilities.
Strengths: Fast performance, runs any application, handle 10-bit fansubs without any problem, Wacom Pen (useful for Photoshop and note taking), lots of connectivity/storage options, integrated kickstand, and great screen.
Weaknesses: Battery Life is somewhat lacking compared to other tablets (although it improved), finish scratches easily (especially at the charging port), lackluster cameras, expensive (as a ultrabook, it’s competitive), no dedicated spot to store pen.