Hands-on with Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2


Microsoft has revealed their new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. Both new Surfaces are thinner, lighter, faster, and sport better displays and battery life than their predecessors. And sure, you can call them a tablet, but make no mistake, these systems are powerful enough to be a laptop replacement, as well as a serious work + play tool.

The original Surfaces packed in an amazing display, but Microsoft has upped the ante with a 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display that offers 46% more color accuracy. The Surface’s kickstand has also been redesigned to accommodate dual angles, so that the device can sit more comfortably on your lap. Microsoft has also added the Surface logo to the device which shows their commitment to the brand. The USB port on Surface has also been upgraded to USB 3.0. In addition, the camera resolution has been upgraded to 3.5MP for the front camera and 5MP for the rear camera. But aside from the megapixel upgrade, the camera sports improved low light performance, so that you can make Skype video calls even in a dark environment.

Surface Pro 2

For power users looking for the ultimate performance in a tablet form-factor, the Surface Pro 2 is being describes as the most powerful professional use tablet ever built. To that effect, Microsoft says that the Surface Pro 2 is faster than 95% of all laptops and Ultrabooks on the market today. Under the hood, the system is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, and 8GB of RAM. When compared to the original Surface Pro, the system offers 50% greater graphics performance, and overall performance has increased by 20%. To show off the Surface Pro’s prowess, Microsoft shows how the system is able to handle editing of Raw 6k footage taken on a RED camera. Battery life has also been improved by a whopping 60%, and that means that this is a tablet that will really last all day long.

Surface 2

Surface 2 is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor and comes running Windows RT. It too has gained performance boost and it actually performs 3 to 4x faster than its predecessor. Battery life has also been improved by 25%.

Accessories

Microsoft is committed to pushing out more generations of Surface, as they are committed to creating more innovative accessories for the device. Today they introduced several new accessories for the device, including a revamped Touch Cover 2 ($119) which is 1mm thinner than it predecessor, packs in 1092 sensors, predictive typing, able to turn itself off when not in use, and capable of producing a perfectly uniform back-light.

The Type Cover 2 ($129) has also been updated and is now 1mm thinner than kits predecessor, and it’s also available in several fun colors like Cyan, Magenta, Purple and Black. It also packs in an auto dimming feature and it’s backlit.

If you lust after extra battery life, the Surface Power Cover ($199) provides 2x the battery life for your Surface.

And if you’re interested in transforming your Surface Pro into a more desktop like experience when you’re by your desk, the new Surface Docking station ($199) provides three USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, audio in, audio out, and power.

But perhaps the most innovative of all of Surface’s new accessories is the Surface Remix Project. This touch based accessory cover lets you remix your favorite music and then share it. Both amateurs and more professional DJs will have fun with this accessory. But perhaps more importantly is the fact that this accessory indicate who much potential there is to innovate with the surface and future Surface accessories.

Pricing and availability

When the original Surface models were introduced with Windows 8, they were criticized for their high price tags. Fortunately, Surface 2 is priced extremely competitively, starting at $449 for the 32gb model, and it offers tons of value too. Both Surface systems come with the full version of Microsoft Office, including Outlook. In addition, Microsoft is including 200GB of SkyDrive storage for 2 years, and 1 year of international Skype calling, with each purchase. Suffice to to say, it looks like the Surface 2′s value can give the iPad a run for its money. The Surface RT will continue to be sold for $349. But you would be silly not to opt for the more powerful Surface 2 for $449. Meanwhile, pricing for the Surface Pro 2 will start at $899 for the 32GB model and it will be available with up to 512GB of storage. Preorders go live on the Microsoft Store website and Best Buy, starting tomorrow, and the devices will become available on October 22nd. We’ll have a full review up soon.