Surface 2 touch screen problems

I’m now just over three months on with my Surface 2, and the overall impression is one of satisfaction with a well-made device. It’s proving to be useful in all the areas I expected it to; it hasn’t excelled in areas I knew it wouldn’t (legacy app support) but I’ve been able to do more productive work on it than I expected.

Is there a ghost in the house? Phantom touch, Surface 2
Is there a ghost in the house? Phantom touch, Surface 2

However I’ve had one bug with it which has been with me since day one. I hinted at this back in my original review where I referred to some screen redraw issues, and with the benefit of hindsight I believe this was related to the bug I’m now discussing. I explained this more fully in the follow-up review about a month later. It’s a phantom touch registering in the top left corner of the screen.

The effect of this is that whenever you try to touch anywhere else on the screen, the device interprets it as a pinch to zoom, or if it’s an application where multi-touch does nothing, then the real screen touch is ignored. This bug hasn’t come up all that often, but when it has it’s been really annoying. Sometimes I’ve been able to ‘fix’ it by turning the screen off and on, but more often than not a full device restart is necessary. That in itself has sometimes been a challenge, as the ‘Swipe down to turn off your PC’ requires a screen interaction which doesn’t always go smoothly – typically it jitters and tries to climb back up and you have to really pull down hard to get the curtain to drop and the device to restart.

When I first noticed this I assumed this would be a common problem that a system update / patch Tuesday would fix, and because it happened infrequently I wasn’t entirely sure if the problem was fixed or not. In recent weeks it’s gotten worse, and once it persisted past installing “Windows 8.1 Update” I figured it was time to send it back.

The problem is I use this device almost daily for work and couldn’t afford to be without it for a few weeks while it’s couriered around the globe, so I wanted to do an exchange back at the retail store. Unfortunately, because I’d waited for MS to fix the problem I had unbeknowns overrun a 30 day window within which the device will be easily exchanged, and now they wanted to send it away to get it assessed before exchanging it. The obvious problem with that is that, given the fault is intermittent, the assessor is likely to say ‘no fault found’ and I get the same device back. After many hours on the phone to Microsoft I got an email authorisation for an exchange, so time will tell how that goes down with the retailer!

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