Surface 2 at $350: Time to Buy?

Surface 2 at $350: Time to Buy?

Yes. No. Maybe

With a $100 price cut in effect, Microsoft's Windows RT-based Surface 2 tablet now starts at a far more reasonable $350, the price at which the device should have been sold at in the first place. But it's the second half of 2014 now. Is this device still worth acquiring?

If you're familiar with Microsoft's Surface product line, you know that it often discounts previous generation products when replacements are available or soon will be. You could get a decent price on a first-generation Surface Pro after Surface Pro 2 debuted, for example.

But Surface 2 occupies a unique niche because it is based on Windows RT, not Windows 8. And that means it cannot run traditional desktop applications, severely limiting its usefulness. Last year, Microsoft offered a very similar discount on Surface RT, Surface 2's predecessor, offering the base version of that device for $350 as well. And at that time, I cautioned readers to put away their credit cards because Surface RT was not a good deal at any price.

This year, alas, is different.

I'm not going to offer a blanket recommendation for Surface 2 at $350. However, as long as you understand what you're getting into, Surface 2 is a much better deal at that price than was Surface RT a year ago. And if you are looking for a reasonable priced 10-inch Windows Store tablet with great battery life and absolutely acceptable performance—for Windows Store apps, that is—this isn't a terrible deal.

Too, Surface 2 does include a fully-functioning copy of Office 2013. It's upgradeable to Windows 8.1 with Update 2, and will be upgradeable to Windows 9/Threshold.

There are three configurations available:

Surface 2 with 32 GB of storage. $350 (originally $450)

Surface 2 with 64 GB of storage: $450 (originally $550)

Surface 2 with 64 GB of storage and 4G LTE capabilities (AT&T): $580 (originally $680 and still far too expensive)

Obviously, the sweet spot is the 32 GB version (and remember you can always upgrade storage via microSD), given the relatively low price. You might even consider this device as a reasonable alternative to a Chromebook or low-cost Windows laptop, though you'll need to purchase a $130 Type Cover 2 as well, which materially impacts the savings here.

Anyway, I'm not going to say don't do it. But I am going to say don't do it if you have any doubts about whether this will meet your needs. This is one of those things that only makes sense if you know what you're getting and know this will work for you.

I'm also curious if this means we're going to see a Surface 3. My sources indicated that Surface Mini was originally supposed to replace Surface 2 in the market, and given the weirdness around that device, I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft went with a plan B for now.

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