Microsoft Takes Another Stab at Tablets, Unveils Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro [Live Event Coverage]
Microsoft says that Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro both benefit from "significant updates." Among them are improvements to processing power, better battery life, display and camera resolution upgrades, and a niftier Kickstand that now sports dual angles, making it more comfortable to use on your lap or desk.
As was previously rumored, NVIDIA's Tegra 4 platform powers the Surface 2 and its 10.6-inch ClearType display, which now boasts a Full HD 1080p resolution. ARMed with this new foundation, the tablet is supposed to be three to four times faster than than its predecessor, along with providing up to 25 percent longer battery life.
A look inside Surface 2
Dave was on hand at Microsoft's unveiling in New York to see Micosoft's new slates in action, and one thing that was really cool was seeing Surface 2 playing games like WOW and Portal 2 at high resolution using a wireless controller while multitasking at least three or more Office apps running in the background. The demo underscored the power of NVIDIA's Tegra 4 architecture, which Microsoft was wise to run with, but also the thread-handling efficiency of Microsoft's latest iteration of Windows 8.1.
Since this is an ARM-based tablet, Surface 2 will ship with Windows RT 8.1. It will also come pre-loaded with Microsoft Office 2013 RT, including Outlook RT. Surface 2 will come in 32GB and 64GB configurations starting at $449.
Moving on, Surface 2 Pro boasts an x86 foundation with Haswell inside (Core i5 dual-core processor) and the same 10.6 full HD 1920X1080 ClearType display. Microsoft views Surface 2 Pro as a "true laptop replacement" that can run pretty much all of your Windows software, including the full Microsoft Office suite.
That's 6K folks, not just 4K. - Surface 2 Pro Playing Video Recorded On RED Dragon Camera
At a starting price of $899, Surface 2 Pro will be offered in 64GB and 128GB flavors with 4GB of RAM, and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8GB of RAM.
Microsoft also announced a new batch of accessories for its Surface 2 and Surface 2 products, including a Docking Station for the latter. The Docking Station lets you quickly connect Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 to desktop PC peripherals with little hassle, in essence transforming it from a laptop to a desktop. Using the Docking Station, you can connect to an external monitor, among other things.
Typing is a lot easier on Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro thanks to redesigned Touch Covers. As you can see above, the keyboard is wafer thin. It's also lighter, has a backlight, and according to Microsoft, allows you to type up to two times faster than onscreen. Part of the technology behind this claim comes as a result of the higher resolution membrane switch panel behind the key caps of the Touch Cover 2, which actually compensate for partially missed keystrokes and then auto-corrects for you on the fly, resulting in better key strike accuracy. Nice.
Microsoft Vice President Panos Panay Talks To The full Microsoft Surface Lineup
VP of Surface, Panos Panay with Surface Pro 2 - "Faster than 95% of laptops in market to date."
It's also very much worth noting that Microsoft is including some value-added services with Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro. Customers who purchase either device will receive free Skype calling to landlines in more than 60 countries for a year, unlimited Skype Wi-Fi on their Surface 2 product, and perhaps biggest of all, a very healthy 200GB of free SkyDrive cloud storage for two years. That's how you wrap ecosystem support for a product. Microsoft appears to be taking note of what works and then executing.