Microsoft has just officially released the Surface 2 and and the Surface Pro 2 tablet PCs. They will be available for sale on October 22, and are available now for preordering. Let’s take a look and see if these new products from the guys in Seattle really have the potential to change the face of their tablet business.
The biggest change includes a new faster ARM processor that will certainly speed things up a bit in the Surface 2, as well as a new Haswell processor in the Surface Pro 2 version. Microsoft says the processor is faster, consumes less power, and the graphics have improved. The overall size of the Surface 2 is thinner, lighter, and has a new lighter color aluminum design. Here’s a list of specs that you will find useful to know about this new Surface 2 tablet.
- The Surface 2 tablet will be available in 32GB and 64GB configurations. The 32GB version starts at $449 and the 64GB version is $549.
- The old black has disappeared and has been replaced by a more attractive lighter color, a silver-magnesium color. The body is slimmer and lighter weight giving it an overall better feel.
- The screen is still at its 10.6 inch size; its considered large by tablet size standards. However, a higher resolution screen does now predominate with a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel-resolution
- The brain of the Surface 2 has an improved 1.7GHz Nvidia Tegra 4 processor
- Many were hoping for the Windows OS like the Pro version. Not so; the same Windows RT version also exists on the Surface 2.
- It has a full HD 1080p display which assists in performance when producing more sophisticated videos as well as running multiple apps.
- The front 3.5 megapixel camera and the rear 5.0 megapixel camera have been improved.
- The built-in stand has added an additional position. You still have the original 24 degree position and a new 40 degree angle, making the system easier to see from different positions.
- The speakers have been improved substantially with a redesigned audio system.
- The Apps Store has improved some although Microsoft says the store will be improving dramatically down the road, including Facebook and Outlook RT apps.
Surface Pro 2
The Surface Pro 2 has changed somewhat as well. Microsoft has launched its Surface tablet lineup with a "Power Cover", a protective case with a built-in 30W battery as one of its more important additions to the Surface line. There will be more about that below. Here's some information on the Pro 2 tablet PC.
- Perhaps the biggest change to the Surface Pro 2 has been the new Haswell 4th generation Intel processor, which has a number of improvements including extended battery life, better graphics performance, and a moderate performance increase. The extended battery life of the Haswell is enhanced by the additional battery in the Power Cover option.
- The Surface Pro base model has 64GB with 4GB of RAM and costs $899, while the 128GB version is $999 and the 256GB model is $1,299. There is also a high-end 512 GB option with 8GB of RAM for $1,799.
- The Surface Pro still has the Windows OS; version 8.1.
A big part of Microsoft’s recent public presentation rollout of the new Surface products included a number of accessories to improve the Surface computing experience. These new accessories are exactly that: accessories, meaning they do not come as part of the tablet. You must pay for these separately. However, these accessories are nice, some of which have been significantly improved, with some needed new additions as well. Additions to the line include a Power Cover, a docking station, and a Remix Cover. Microsoft can truly say the Surface line is now a “ecosystem.”
- Two new keyboards have been added as accessories, the Touch Cover 2 and the Type Cover 2. The Touch Cover 2 is both thinner and lighter than the original Touch Cover, measuring 2.75mm thin, and features backlit keys for better readability, and is going for $119.99. The underneath sensors have dramatically improved from the previous anemic 80 to 2,092. As part of the improved sensors, the Surface 2 will now respond to gestures (moving your hands/arms) in addition to touch. The Type Cover 2 is thinner and lighter than the original Touch Cover, and a nice addition at $129.99, with backlit keys and color options cyan, magenta, purple, and black.
- There is also a Bluetooth wireless adapter available for the Touch and Type Cover 2 for $60 which attaches to the keyboard hinge and allows you to wirelessly communicate with the tablet from anywhere in the room.
- Available as an accessory in early 2014 for Pro and Pro 2 models is a new Power Cover for $199.99, which not only adds the keyboard but an external battery as well, extending the battery life to more than ten hours. The new Haswell processor in the Pro versions assists in that effort since the Haswell makes for a longer battery life to any PC in which it is housed.
- Available as an accessory in early 2014 for the Pro and Pro 2 models, include a docking station that goes for $199.99 and includes three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, Ethernet, audio in, audio out, and will also power two monitors.
- Microsoft has been thinking of audio engineering with the introduction of a new type of interface, outfitted with sliders, touch controls. . . everything a sound engineer needs to do a music track mix. Unfortunately, the availability and price are unknown at this time.
- You can charge your Surface while you travel by car with a car charger that plugs into your standard round cigarette lighter style of plug-in. It also has a USB port for charging more than one device at the same time.
- A new Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition is available for $70 which has a special curved shape specifically for Surface usage. It has a Bluetooth interface to keep your available USB ports open for other usage.
The Touch and Type Covers, as well as the new Arc mouse are available for the retail availability in October. The other accessories will be available in early 2014. From what I can see of the Surface 2, although there have been substantial improvements, the machine still has the same OS (Windows RT) and the screen size at 10.6 inches is the same as the originial, making it too big for a tablet. It’s size is really more in the realm of an Ultrabook. Although the price has dropped $50, you must still dish out extra for a keyboard or other important items, making this new model a bit overpriced still. The Surface Pro is really the jewel of the lineup, and its Windows OS and capabilities make it shine, especially for business usage. Another very sore point with the Surface 2 is the small number of apps available in the apps store. Microsoft claims it will improve down the road; the only question is, how far down the road? Time will tell.