Today Microsoft finally decided to make the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets official. This comes after many months of speculation about these tablets – in fact, the first time we reported on them was in November of last year, around one month after the original devices launched. Crazy, yes, but this perfectly shows how obsessed the media has been with Microsoft’s very own tablets. Maybe that was in a way predictable (this is Microsoft, after all), however sales of the first generation Surface devices have been anything but good for the Redmond giant. Maybe things will change this time around, who knows.
The Surface 2 (on the left in the image below) is the successor to the Surface RT from last year. It comes with a higher-res 1080p Full HD touchscreen, a 1.7 GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 32 or 64 GB of storage, a 5 MP rear camera, a 3.5 MP front camera, double the bus speed for Wi-Fi and memory, and a USB 3.0 port. 10-hour battery life may be a possibility, since Microsoft says this tablet should last around 25% more than its predecessor, while also feeling about three to four times faster in day to day use.
The Surface 2 has very similar looks to the Surface RT, but it’s both thinner at 8.9 mm and lighter at 676 grams. Furthermore, it’s now built from two pieces of magnesium, not three.
The Microsoft Surface 2 will be out on October 22 for $449. Pre-orders will start tomorrow. The price is better this time around (the Surface 2 is going to be cheaper than the Surface RT was when it launched), but it’s still unclear who this tablet is for – who would want to use Windows RT (even in its 8.1 iteration), and for what purposes. The Surface RT was a disaster in terms of sales, so what should make the Surface 2 better? Tough to say. Interestingly, the original Surface RT will still be on sale for $349 (so Microsoft still has to clear its inventory).
The Surface Pro 2 (on the right in the image above) is obviously the next tablet in the Intel-powered tablet line from Microsoft, and it’s got a Haswell CPU (the Core i5-4200U, in this case, clocked at 1.6 GHz with 2.6 GHz TurboBoost). That’s all the rage in this day and age, since Intel’s latest generation chips offer battery life that’s a lot better than their predecessors. The Surface Pro 2 should benefit from this.
The touchscreen is still a 10.6-inch 1080p Full HD panel, but it boasts better color accuracy, and better graphics performance. The tablet itself should be around 20% faster than the original, Microsoft reckons, and it comes with an improved speaker setup. It has two 720p cameras, USB 3.0 support, mini DisplayPort, and Ethernet. When docked, it can output 3,840×2,160 resolution, and you can edit 6K video on it.
The base model will come with 64 GB of storage and 4 GB of RAM and will cost $899 (this is the same starting price as the old Surface Pro). Like the Surface 2, the Surface Pro 2 will be up for pre-order tomorrow and will be released in 21 markets on October 22.
Everyone who buys one of these tablets also gets 200 GB of SkyDrive storage for two years, as well as free international Skype calls.
Keeping with tradition, Microsoft has also unveiled a bunch of ‘covers’ for the new Surface tablets: the Touch Cover 2, the Type Cover 2, and the brand new Power Cover. The Power Cover has a battery of its own, which will increase your battery life. The others are just successors to the covers we’ve seen last year, with the Type Cover now being LED-backlit, and the Touch Cover getting even thinner than before.