At its special event in New York City, Microsoft has unveiled the next-generation Surface tablets, the Surface Pro 2 and the simply called Surface 2. The Surface Pro 2 did manage to impress me and it confirmed some of my optimistic expectations, especially in terms of battery life, but disappointed when it came to the price. Surface 2’s unveiling also left me with mixed feelings.
Something that Microsoft did great was the accessories. The Type Cover 2 is now 1 milimeter thinner than the first version and in my opinion, it comes with better looks. Being also back-lit, this accessory will transform your Surface 2 into a real writing machine of our times. During the launch, Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Vice President of the Surface division, even said the following, referring to the Surface RT and its mission:
It’s the revamp people need. When the team set out to deliver Surface RT … they had a vision. We had a vision. We went out to create a product that people can buy and get away from just consumption and get away from their iPad or tablet and be more productive
The Surface 2 is now thinner, lighter, has full HD and even comes with a silver color option. Full HD is an important improvement from the 1,366 x 768 for the first generation.The tablet now has only the Surface logo, without the Microsoft one. Surface 2’s is a full 1080p ClearType display. It comes with 25 percent more battery life and it comes with the same new kickstand as the Surface Pro 2. This generation of the Surface steps up to USB 3.0 from 2.0.
As for speed, Microsoft’s executive says it can run 3 to 4 times faster than the original product, thanks to the new Tegra 4 processor that’s now inside. Will the Surface 2 manage to cope against cheap Windows 8 devices that run on Intel’s Bay Trail chips? The Surface 2 also comes with a double bus speed for the WiFi and the memory.
Surface 2 is now better for playing, browsing and video chats
For Skype users there is good news, the back camera is now 3.5 MP on the Surface 2 has been improved by five times and it also comes with a 1/3 inch sensor. Microsoft has also come up with a very good buying incentive for Surface 2 wanna-be owners – free international calling and free WiFi. But I admit I was impressed by the multitasking of the device, as we saw in the launch demo how Julie Larson-Green, the Executive Vice-President of the Devices and Studios group at Microsoft, was playing Halo while having Office apps in the background.
Surface 2 will also please games and Internet lovers, as it comes with 72 graphics cores and twice the Internet speed. You will also get 200GB of SkyDrive storage for two years, which will be much needed by all users. Surface 2 also comes with Outlook RT. The biggest drawback in my opinion is that it still comes with Windows RT, even if this is Windows RT 8.1. Microsoft hopes that the 100,000 apps now present in the Windows Store will be able to please users, but still, important apps are absent. Mister Panay did mention again that Facebook and Flipboards are coming, but no exact date has been provided.
Both Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will be available for pre-order beginning tomorrow, September 24, 2013 and available for purchase on October 22, 2013 in select markets. The price for the Surface 2 is $449, which is $50 less than the initial price of the Surface RT which has been subsequently slashed down to $349 because of low demand.
By the way, where is Steve Ballmer?