Less than one year after the initial release of the Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets, Microsoft unveiled the upgraded versions of its floundering hardware experiment.
Here are the exciting changes for each product.
The new Surface 2 is a significantly upgraded replacement for the old Surface RT tablet. The tablet is equipped with the latest ARM-based Tegra 4 processor, making the new Surface 2 tablet much faster than the RT. According to Microsoft, the Surface 2 also receives a 25% increase to battery life increasing overall battery life to nearly 12 hours. The new Surface 2 also comes with the Surface Pro's ClearType Full HD screen, providing an increase in visual performance over the standard Surface RT.
Unfortunately, the most important feature of the Surface 2 tablet that has not changed from the Surface RT is the software. Software defines hardware, and in the case of the Surface RT, and now the Surface 2, the definition is "limited."
The Surface 2 will use the same version of the Windows 8 OS that the Surface RT came equipped with. This reliance on the RT version of the Windows OS limits users to only Windows Store apps. Unfortunately, the Windows Store has continued to flounder since its inception and sufferers from publisher apathy and limited options.
Indications from Microsoft are that the Windows Store has become more active with a reported 100,000 applications offered.
The Surface 2 will also receive an upgraded camera. The new camera sensors will allow the Surface 2 to film with better video quality in multiple lighting scenarios. The new camera is also optimized to work with Skype video calls, as well.
The new Surface 2 starts at $449 and will be made available to consumers through pre-order on September 24 and for purchase on October 22.
Surface Pro 2
The new Surface Pro 2 receives far fewer major or noticeable changes than the Surface 2. Highlighting the less is more product offering, the new Surface Pro 2 debuts a new kickstand that has two positions, instead of only one with the first versions. The new kickstand position is reportedly for aiding stability in a consumer's lap.
On the hardware side, the Surface Pro 2 receives minor, incremental upgrades. The most important of these upgrades is the inclusion of the new Intel Haswell i5 chip. The Haswell chip is reported to reduce power consumption that provides increased battery life of up to 75%. The new battery life should extend the Surface Pro 2's usability to 7 or 8 hours, which is an increase over the Surface Pro's four to five hour battery life.
Other reported minor changes include an increase to screen color accuracy of almost 50%. The Surface Pro 2's speakers see an upgrade to include built-in Dolby. There will also be a larger selection of available options, from 4GB and 8GB memory configurations to 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage sizes.
The new Surface Pro 2 starts at $899 and will be made available to consumers through pre-order on September 24 and for purchase on October 22.