A thin oblong of black-and-silver glass metal and plastic, out of the box the Surface 2 looks great, but we did find it picked up marks pretty quickly.
It's not the thinnest full-size tablet, but the Surface 2 is most definitely neither too heavy nor too thick. The kick stand remains from the first-generation Surface, but now has two angles. Even with two fixed positions there will be activities for which you want a different angle, but the kick stand has always been a nice design feature, and two angles is better than one.
Surface RT: keyboard covers
If you haven't previously seen them the keyboard covers remain a great - albeit expensive - addition to the Surface RT. The Touch Cover is strange to use at first but is something you can get used to after a while. It's just 3mm thick and uses pressure-sensitive touch pads. The Touch Cover is fine for the odd bit of typing but anyone wanting to do any serious work will benefit no end by opting for the Type Cover. It's double the thickness but provides keys that actually move. See also: the 14 best tablets of 2013.
The keyboard covers lock effortlessly and satisfyingly into place and the Surface 2 is a well designed and -built device.
Using the Surface 2 feels fast and responsive, which wasn't the case with the original Surface.
Where the Surface always performed was in gaming, and the Surface 2 is no exception. Benchmarks show very healthy scores that reflect our experience of a zippy machine even when running multiple processes. Battery life is decent, too.
Surface RT: storage
The Surface 2 comes in 32GB and 64GB flavours, with a MicroSD card slot that allows you to add up to another 64GB of files and media. On our virgin test Surface 2, with a nominal 32GB of storage, only 17.7GB was available, and only a total of 25.2GB could be accessed.
You get a full-size USB 3.0 port, as well as a microSD card reader, and there is a HD video out port. Wireless connectivity is covered by 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. There is no cellular connectivity.
The Surface 2 display is bigger than most tablets and offers greater real-estate for widescreen movies, spreadsheets and the like. Detail is decent in a device with a screen this big: it's a bright and detailed display, that shows off games and photos well.
The 5-point multi-touch is as responsive as the rest of the Surface 2, and the display feels durable. Side-mounted speakers offer Dolby stereo, and they are certainly passable for the odd movie-watching session.
There are two cameras and two video cameras, situated on the front and back of the Surface 2.
Surface RT: Windows RT
Windows RT is very easy to use, I personally like the way it looks, and it is stable on this device. Microsoft has removed the pointless 'Desktop' tile from the Start screen, because when a Windows device is on ARM, it isn't full Windows 8. You can't install x86 software as you can on any other Windows device. It's the same situation with Android and iPad tablets, and it simply makes the RT more of a consumption device than a productivity tool, like tablets on those rival platforms.
But as nice as the Surface 2 is - and it is - I don't really see why I would choose it rather than an iPad, or a cheaper but decent Android such as the Nexus 7 2 or even the Tesco Hudl. After all, Google Play and iTunes knock spots of the Windows App Store when it comes to apps and media. (See also: Top 8 best Windows 8 tablets: the best Windows 8 tablets you can buy in 2013.)