Microsoft takes another stab at hardware with new Surface 2 tablets

By on September 23, 2013, 12:09 PM
microsoft, tablet, haswell, microsoft surface, tegra 4, surface 2, surface pro 2

Microsoft announced the follow up to last year’s Surface tablets at an event in New York City this morning. As expected, the company is sticking to the same form factors and architectures with a lower-price ARM model running Windows RT 8.1, and a higher-price x86 machine running full Windows Pro 8.1. It’s an evolutionary update, one that Microsoft hopes will get people excited about its second go at a productivity focused tablet.

Surface Pro 2

The Surface Pro 2 doesn’t differ much from its predecessor in terms of looks. In fact, size and dimensions are unchanged. Internally, however, Microsoft bumped specs with an Intel Haswell processor that’s said to bring 50% better graphics performance and a whopping 75% increase in battery life.

Microsoft says the Pro 2 is “literally faster than 95% of laptops today.” Other improvements include an updated ClearType HD display with 46% better color accuracy, superior speaker quality and a refined kickstand that now adjusts to two different angles allowing for both desk and lap use. It’ll be available in 64GB and 128GB versions with 4GB of RAM, as well as 256GB and 512GB editions with 8GB of RAM.

Surface 2

Microsoft dropped the RT moniker for its ARM-based tablet and is simply calling it Surface 2 this time around. The updated device replaces the first generation's Nvidia Tegra 3 processor with a Tegra 4, and upgrades the 1366x768 screen to a Pro 2 matching 1920x1080 panel with better color accuracy.

The company cited significant performance improvements without getting into numbers, while touting a 25% improvement in battery life and a slimmer and lighter design. The refined, two-step kickstand is also present, and of course, you are still confined to Modern-style apps with Windows RT 8.1. That said, Microsoft claims there are now 100,000 apps in the Windows Store right now, with Flipboard and Facebook coming soon.

Despite advances on this front, app availability is still a sticking point when it comes to Windows RT. Microsoft is once again making up for it by pre-loading Office 2013 RT with the tablets, and throwing in free Skype Wi-Fi hotspots with free international calling for one year and 200GB of SkyDrive storage for two years.

Pricing and availability

Both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will be available starting October 22. The former starts at $449 for the 32GB model and $549 for the 64GB variant, while the latter begins at $899 and goes up to $1,799 depending on the model. Both ship without a keyboard cover. Meanwhile, the original Surface RT is sticking around (while supplies last, we assume) for $349. Pre-orders for the second-generation devices open tomorrow.

New and updated accesories

The signature snap-on keyboard covers are receiving updates alongside an all-new battery equipped unit. The latter is called the Power Cover, packing a 30 watt-hour battery that gives the Pro 2 two and a half times the battery life of the original Surface Pro, and will set you back $200. Meanwhile the $120 Touch Cover 2 shaves off a few millimeters from its predecessor adding backlighting in the process, and the $130 Type Cover 2 gets improved sensitivity in roughly the same package. Both can function wirelessly with a new USB adapter.

Rounding out the announcements, Microsoft also unveiled the Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition, and a long rumored docking station that can accommodate the Surface Pro 2 with the Power Cover attached. The $200 device is meant to help you turn your tablet into a full on desktop replacement with three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, audio in and audio out, a Mini DisplayPort, an ethernet jack, and the ability to output to a secondary monitor at up to 3840 x 2160 resolutions. Microsoft expects to release it in early 2014.




User Comments: 24

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treeski treeski said:

Really good stuff IMO... love the array of accessories, although dang can the prices add up.

2 people like this | MilwaukeeMike said:

The $200 device is meant to help you turn your tablet into a full on desktop replacement.

Except it's not a tablet. The Surface 2 pro, like the surface pro is a laptop with a touch screen and no attached keyboard. I know the Surface has one foot in tablet territory and another in laptop territory, but every time someone reads that the Surface Pro is tablet they'll say '$999 for a TABLET?!?!'

I really hope MS advertises the Pro 2 as a fully functional Windows 8 laptop disguised as a tablet instead of just a MS tablet that is better than an iPad because it has a kickstand and USB port.

Jim$ter said:

Ya love the specs but the prices are to high for mass adaption. If I could get the pro for no more than $4599 with keyboard I would probably bite but I know that won't happen.

Jim$ter said:

They really need a edit function on here... That was $599 not $4599 LOL

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

You can edit a post by going to the Forums and looking up your post.

treeski treeski said:

They really need a edit function on here... That was $599 not $4599 LOL

Hit the "Jump to forum mode" button below.

JC713 JC713 said:

I think MS should have aimed for the $400 price point for the Surface running RT. That would make it more attractive.

IAMTHESTIG said:

Looks good... I may be buying one of these new pro tablets to replace my laptop.

Guest said:

I like the direction Microsoft is taking with Surface (back-lit keyboards look particularly cool), but it's still too expensive. Especially the accessories, keyboard for more than $100?

I can see the docking station being pretty useful in business environments.

JC713 JC713 said:

I wish MS went with a higher end screen. It uses the same panel as the regular Surface. They should have upped the panel to something with a higher resolution. Then it can be a really great tablet and would justify the $900 price tag. The way it is now, I think it should be $800.

Railman said:

I like the direction Microsoft is taking with Surface (back-lit keyboards look particularly cool), but it's still too expensive. Especially the accessories, keyboard for more than $100?

I can see the docking station being pretty useful in business environments.

So you need a docking station for both work and home for serious work! I can't see Corporate buyers being happy to spend so much for so little.

1 person liked this | Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

I think MS should have aimed for the $400 price point for the Surface running RT. That would make it more attractive.

WITH Touch Cover 2.

As much of a Microsoft/Windows 8/WP8 fan that I am, I just can't even get close to thinking about buying a Surface.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

I like the direction Microsoft is taking with Surface (back-lit keyboards look particularly cool), but it's still too expensive. Especially the accessories, keyboard for more than $100?

I can see the docking station being pretty useful in business environments.

So you need a docking station for both work and home for serious work! I can't see Corporate buyers being happy to spend so much for so little.

1 light computer vs having 2 computers for upwards of twice as much. It could potentially be a better scenario...

plee00124 plee00124 said:

My gosh, why the Surface Pro price is sooooooo high. Even half the price is still so high. Throw in all MS softwares for free and the price is still high.

dennis777 dennis777 said:

The specs & price ratio is not that great. M$ should atleast lower the price if they want it more popular.. nexus has decent specs at decent prices.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is basically what I had hoped the original Surface pro would have been like... If I weren't saving for a completely unreasonable from the ground up overhaul of my desktop for Star Citizen I'd probably pre-order one.

JC713 JC713 said:

WITH Touch Cover 2.

As much of a Microsoft/Windows 8/WP8 fan that I am, I just can't even get close to thinking about buying a Surface.

Oh, that is actually a moderate deal. I didnt read that.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

$100+ for the keyboards is shameful. They should be included in the price, or a $50 max option. $120-200 for it is insane. Corps with that money to blow will just buy a Mac Air and an iPad.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think MS should be willing to take some loss on both devices, and promote the allied services bit more to cover it up, that way, they can set a much more competitive price. Surface priced around 350$ should be a more attractive prospect. Whereas, Surface Pro (128GB) version for the starting price could be a very good proposition.

Aside from that, I don't see RT a viable OS. MS should have scaled WP up for its ARM tablets, that way, it would have made much more sense, but that is just my opinion.

RH00D RH00D said:

It's worth pointing out that with the included services for free, like the 200 GB SkyDrive storage, Skype calling, and whatever else they included, the actual price of the Surface 2 ends up being -$29 as calculated by Ars Technica. So they actually are selling it at a loss if you look at it like that.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Oh, that is actually a moderate deal. I didnt read that.

No, no. I was saying that it SHOULD be that price with the touch cover. As it is, you have to buy it separately, which puts you back $570 for the base Surface 2 and the Touch Cover 2.

PC EliTiST PC EliTiST said:

50% better graphics performance... Is this how they try to deceive people? From 1 fps under some certain circumstances, it can now produce 1,5 fps... See? 50% improvement.

For me, Microsoft's tablets are completely out of my list of recommended gadgets. I'd prefer a solid Samsung tablet&smartphone without second thought.

JC713 JC713 said:

No, no. I was saying that it SHOULD be that price with the touch cover. As it is, you have to buy it separately, which puts you back $570 for the base Surface 2 and the Touch Cover 2.

Wow that is dumb.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

It's worth pointing out that with the included services for free, like the 200 GB SkyDrive storage, Skype calling, and whatever else they included, the actual price of the Surface 2 ends up being -$29 as calculated by Ars Technica. So they actually are selling it at a loss if you look at it like that.

Using the above pricing as the basis of 'how much is the tablet itself worth?' is flawed. Telco's use the same strategy in their contract plans - it is assumed that the majority of users won't use their maximum credit (which they have paid for), so the telco is saving money on these users and making a profit. They can also afford to have promotions where they seemingly 'lose' money. In the end, they always win.

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