2 great new Surface tablets unveiled: Why I won't be buying either one

Summary:As expected, Microsoft recently unveiled the second generation Surface tablets with much improved hardware. Unfortunately, that's not enough to get me to buy one.

Surface 2
Surface 2, Surface Pro 2-- Image credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is getting the hang of throwing device launch events. The debut of the new Surface tablets was an exciting affair that showcased the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, complete with great refreshed hardware. Both new tablets will have state-of-the-art hardware components when they become available October 22. As good as both Surface tablets look, they each lack something which will keep my wallet firmly in my pocket.

Surface 2

The Surface 2 tablet is the refreshed version of the original Surface RT. Of the two Surface models, the Surface 2 can be viewed as the true tablet. It will have the latest ARM chipset from Nvidia that will make the Surface 2 a real powerhouse.

The Tegra 4 used in the Surface 2 is especially good at running intensive games, so Microsoft has the opportunity to make the tablet a good gaming platform. It will easily handle non-game tablet apps so it's got the whole package.

Microsoft says the Surface 2 is less than 1.5 pounds so it's a decent size and weight for a tablet. Unfortunately, it seems to have the same casing as the Surface RT which I found to be uncomfortable to use in portrait orientation. That's my preferred method to use a tablet so I'd have to try the Surface 2 to see if it would work for me.

The hardware of the Surface 2 looks good but it's the software that kills the deal for me. The Windows RT software to be exact. Being an ARM device, Windows RT 8.1 is what will come with the Surface 2 and that's no good. I must have the ability to install desktop apps on my Windows tablets, specifically Chrome, and that's not possible with Windows RT. That kills the Surface 2 as a possibility for me, the same as it did for the Surface RT.

Surface Pro 2

The Surface Pro 2 is the most exciting of the two new tablets from Microsoft due to the updated hardware. It packs the latest Core technology from Intel, aka Haswell, and that should make the Surface Pro 2 more powerful while yielding almost double the battery life of the original Surface Pro.

The inclusion of the Haswell technology is significant as I've experienced with my MacBook Air . The Surface Pro 2 uses a faster 1.6 GHz processor compared to the 1.3 GHz in the MacBook Air and should get better performance. I get over 9 hours of battery life which should be slightly better than what the Surface Pro 2 will get due to the slower processor in the Air.

Everything inside the Surface Pro 2 indicates it should be a vast improvement over the original Surface Pro, so it should be a fantastic PC. And make no mistake, it is a full PC running Windows 8.1 so it has no limitations like the Windows RT packing Surface 2.

If the hardware of the Surface Pro 2 is so good why won't I buy one? It's the form factor that breaks the deal for me. Having used heavy Tablet PCs for years due to a lack of choice, I am no longer willing to sacrifice form for function.

The "about 2lbs" Microsoft is listing for the Surface Pro 2, which is the same as the Surface Pro, is too heavy for tablet use as far as I'm concerned. The times I've played with the Surface Pro clearly demonstrated that the tablet is too heavy and bulky for typical tablet use.

To be fair, Microsoft is clearly pitching the Surface Pro 2 as a laptop with tablet benefits. It is certainly that, but I'm not willing to compromise tablet use with any device.

My ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a fantastic tablet at 10 inches and 1.3lbs. Its form is vastly superior to the Surface Pro 2 for tablet use, and I won't buy the Surface for that reason.

Great tablets, just not for me

To be clear, I find both new Surface tablets to be made of great hardware and they are vast improvements over the first generation models. I am sure that many will find them to be good purchases, and snap one of them up. They will probably serve buyers well and will be highly competitive in the Windows laptop and tablet space. They're just not for me.

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Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Tablets, Windows 8

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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