Despite being a launch event about what some would consider a pretty standard product in the Surface 2, you couldn’t ignore the sheer cluster of lights that wanted to convince guests otherwise. It began with eye candy that came in the form of laser beams that darted to the rhythms and directions of a single man. It continued with the background luminance that took on a life of its own through its pixelated shapes and designs that morphed with every advancing beat. It was also impossible to overlook the podium, which could hardly be called one by any ordinary standard when you viewed the Rubik’s Cube inspired design. Then there was, of course, the man himself — wearing a mouse-head for a helmet.

From the very beginning, the Ontario native, Joel Zimmerman, better known as Deadmau5, served as not only the source of entertainment, but also a representation of the kind of consumer Microsoft wanted to attract with its Surface line.

“I’m really a PC guy, always been and most likely always will be,” said the helmet-less music producer and proud tech head. “If something goes wrong, I can say I need that instead of this whole thing, and it costs much less.”

During his questionnaire period surrounded by a circled group of media guests, he uttered terms like 486 and Sound Blaster 16. These were names that only a nerd would understand. There was nothing casual about his acquaintance with technology and it helped clarify the exact sort of audience the Surface 2 satisfies. “I do a lot of traveling. I found myself sitting in my dressing room to check my e-mail and it’s like, this little pad, it runs Windows, I can test and use the PC like I would at home. So this portability aspect is attractive,” said Zimmerman.

One thing that was easily noticed was that the word “reinvention” never really applied to the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, because it’s a term that rarely ever plays nice with the idea of “better” in the world of technology. It’s virtually the same device aesthetically aside from the logo. It sports a new adjustable, built-in kickstand for those couch surfers, along with a slimmer and lighter build. It’s really what’s under the hood that matters and some problems that existed with previous Surface tablets seem to be done away with. As the regular formula goes, with a new product comes faster technology and the same applies with the new Surface. Sporting a four core Tegra 4 processor and a full 1080p resolution, it provides the tablet with an easier ability to navigate a full Windows environment aside from the more tablet friendly start screen of Windows 8.

“It’s really one of a kind, It’s the one tablet where you won’t find anything really like it on the market. It has all the simplicity and portability of a tablet, but it gives you the power and flexibility of a PC.” – Henrik Gütle, Director at Microsoft Canada

“It’s really one of a kind, It’s the one tablet where you won’t find anything really like it on the market,” said Henrik Gütle, Director at Microsoft Canada. “It has all the simplicity and portability of a tablet, but it gives you the power and flexibility of a PC.”

In a sense, the Surface 2 like its predecessor indeed provides something unique in that respect, but it still seems to have a problem: being a jack of all trades, yet a master of none. It doesn’t have the complete ecosystem that the Android and Apple tablets possess despite their more simplistic offerings. Sure, it’s fast for a tablet, but it still doesn’t have the power to replace a complete Windows machine even with a slightly newer OS in RT 8.1. There’s still time to see as to whether or not the Surface 2 and Pro 2 will make any sort of significant dent within the market, but if MS’s launch party — Deadmau5, mouse heads, glow sticks and all — was any indication, it’s a product that’s ready to provide that “better” that Microsoft is aiming for.

Words & Photos By. Noel Ransome

Noel Ransome is a freelance culture and entertainment journalist. As a former full-time writer for VICE and Associate Editor of Urbanology, he’s covered everything from getting Joel Schumacher to apologize for Batman and Robin, to the dissection of various societal and racial concerns. If there’s a conversation to be had, he wants to start it.

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