After an initial, unsuccessful attempt at taking on Apple’s iPad, Microsoft’s giving its Surface tablets another chance with an updated lineup that features improved internals, better software and a higher-resolution display.
The Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2, successors to the Surface Pro and Surface RT respectively, were unveiled at a media event in New York City.
Surface RT was Microsoft’s true iPad competitor, with a watered down version of Windows, called Windows RT, that ran on an ARM chip. With Surface 2, Microsoft chose to drop the “RT” and added a number of improvements like:
- A better 10.6 inch 1080p ClearType display as compared to the earlier 1366×768 resolution screen.
- Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, compared to the earlier Tegra 3.
- A thinner (8.9mm) and lighter (676g) body
- 25 percent better battery life
- USB 3 port as compared to the earlier USB 2 port, enabling 4x faster transfers
- Upgraded cameras: front camera is now 3.5MP and rear-camera is 5MP with 1080p video recording and better low-light performance
- Windows RT 8.1 that brings improvement in personalisation, search, multitasking and stock apps.
The Surface 2 will be available for pre-order from tomorrow, with the price starting at $449 for the 32GB version. It will go on sale from October 22nd.
Surface Pro 2
Although Surface Pro looks like a tablet, Microsoft positions it as a hybrid between tablets and laptops, thanks to its ability to run the full Windows 8 desktop+Metro experience. The Surface Pro 2, successor to the Surface Pro, improves on its ability to act as a full-laptop replacement by adding the following features:
- A new Intel Haswell processor that Microsoft claims will deliver improved performance and up to 60 percent better battery life
- The device is available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB configurations, with the first two having 4GB RAM while the other two having 8GB.
The Surface Pro 2 will also be available for pre-order from tomorrow, with the price starting at $899. It will go on sale from October 22nd.
Taking a page from Apple’s playbook, Microsoft also announced that it will continue selling last year’s Surface RT at a price of $349.
Microsoft also announced a number of new accessories for the Surface tablet lineup including the Touch Cover 2, Type Cover 2 and a docking station.
Even Microsoft accepts that the first generation of Surface products failed, but will this refresh be enough for the company to sell a lot of Surface tablets? (Keep in mind that Apple’s rumored to introduce new iPads before the Surface goes on sale.)