I’ve tossed around several ways to approach my review of the Microsoft Surface 2 tablet, but it’s impossible to make an iPad comparison since I’ve owned several over the past few years.
Supporting Flash is an obvious difference, but the most significant feature of the Surface 2, in my mind, is the little memory slot tucked away under the built-in stand.
Using the microSD memory slot with cards up to 64GB (not included) gives the Surface 2 enough memory for storing movies, music, documents or whatever you want. This is in addition to internal memory of 32GB or 64GB.
But the positives don’t end there. I really like the tablet’s construction of built-in, dual-position kickstand, keyboard and cover. On the side is a mini-display and USB 3.0 ports, and it comes with the full Microsoft Office 2013 suite of programs.
It runs Windows 8, which allows you to sync it with other Windows 8 machines.
Each Surface 2 comes with a free two-year account to the Skydrive Cloud network. Skydrive is a cross-platform cloud storage solution that will work with any version of Windows in a browser.
The Surface doesn’t come with much documentation, which isn’t really needed. When you first turn it on, the step-by-step instructions are easy to get you up and running.
One nice feature lets you have multiple accounts without having to turn the tablet on and off. Each user can have his or her own setup of apps and appearance; just log in and out for each user.
When you set up a children’s account, restrictions can be put in place to limit what can be done. And a weekly report can be emailed to the administrator informing them what the children’s site has been doing.
I do wish the charging cable were a little more mainstream.
Other specific: the touchscreen tablet measures 10.81 by 6.79 by 0.35 inches, with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1920/1080 resolution. There is also a 3.5 megapixel front-facing camera (great for Skype) and a rear 5 megapixel camera.
I can’t say I’m now a regular Windows user, but the Surface 2 has a place in my tablet world.
www.microsoft.com/surface, 32GB $449, 64GB $549
The Karma can be in the palm of your hand for instant WiFi most anywhere.
The pocket-size hot spot device (2.5 by 2.5 by 0.25 inches) costs $99 and is a pay-as-you-use device without any contract.
Data is $14 per GB. Eight devices can be connected simultaneously without sharing your data. Once someone connects to your Karma and her or she signs up for data, you will receive 100MB deposited into your account.
Karma coverage is offered in 80 major U.S. cities, and a 2014 nationwide expansion will add more than 230 cities using the Sprint 4G LTE Network.
https://yourkarma.com, r egular $99 price will be lowered to $59.99 during the week of Dec. 2-7.
Sound to go
The Outdoor Tech Buckshot Bluetooth speaker is designed for cyclists, but can be used in most any environment with its rugged, water-resistant design.
The speaker has a rubberized outer shell so it’s shock-resistant and can withstand small drops.
It comes with a universal mount for bicycle handlebars for riding along with the music or using it as a hands-free device for phone calls: It has a built-in microphone.
A full USB charge will give you about 10 hours of use and its IPX-5 water-resistance rating enables it to withstand splashes.
The Armorz Stealth Extreme Lite screen protector is as strong as any I’ve seen.
Your screen stays clean, and the company says protected screens can withstand impact from a hammer or drill.
While I won’t put that part to test, I will say fingerprints are at a minimum with the 0.2 mm-thick tempered glass. Officially it has an 8H hardness rating, which means nothing to me except that it prevents my iPhone 5s LCD from getting scratched up.
www.Armorz.com, available for the iPhone 5/5s/5c, $34.95 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, $39.95