As expected Microsoft announced earlier today the follow up to their Surface with Windows RT and Surface with Windows 8 Pro (I’ll refer to this as Surface RT Surface Pro respectively form now on) devices along with a refresh of the branding. The 2nd generation devices will be called Surface 2 (running Windows 8.1 RT) and Surface Pro 2 (running Windows 8.1 Pro) with the latter device being fully backwards compatible with x86 desktop software.
I think it’s safe to say that the two biggest criticism of the 1st generation devices has been performance, in relation to Surface RT, and the battery life of the Surface Pro and unsurprisingly it was these two areas that received the most focus (although not directly). I’ll start with the Surface 2 since that is the device I’m most interested in as I own the 1st generation. Highlights include:
- Thinner, Lighter and Faster (with a new silver finish)
- NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor
- 10.6″ Full HD 1080P Resolution
- USB port upgraded to USB 3.0
- 3.5-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera
- Runs Windows 8.1 along with Office Home & Student 2013 RT (plus Outlook 2013 RT)
- Surface 2 is available in 32GB and 64GB configurations
- Prices start at $449 (£359.00)
Highlights of the updated Surface Pro 2 include:
- Update Intel Core i5 (fourth-generation) Processor
- 75 percent longer battery life than Surface Pro
- Offered in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4 GB of RAM; and
- 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8 GB of RAM
- Starting at $899 (£719.00)
The Surface Pro 2 seems to have received the least amount of attention but then the original device was hardly underpowered so the update to a fourth generation processor is a natural progression.
Another big part of the announcement was that the kickstand can now lock in two positions making the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 more adaptable when being used in “laptop” mode. Microsoft also said that this will make the devices easier to use on a lap but I’ll reserve judgement until I get to use one.
The biggest surprise, for me at least, came towards the end when the presentation moved onto new touch covers that are designed for a specific task. The innovation seems fresh but I was most excited by the fact that none of this had leaked. The example showed a music mixing app and dedicated touch cover.
As if all this wasn’t enough every Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will come with 200GB of SkyDrive storage free for 2 years plus free Skype International calling and Wi-Fi for 12 months.
Finally, as if all that wasn’t enough, there were also new and updated accessories which include a new Power Cover which is the Type Cover with a battery that can add an additional 50% battery life to Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro (yes, it’s compatible with the original Surface Pro but not the original Surface RT).
You can watch a recording of the announcement here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/presskits/surface/surfaceevent.aspx
The rest of the accessories, and more information on the Power Cover, from the press announcement:
• Touch Cover 2. Thinner and lighter than the original Touch Cover, measuring only 2.75 mm thin, Touch Cover 2 features backlit keys for even better readability. Touch Cover 2 is more rigid, registers keystrokes with greater accuracy and features updated sensors that support a variety of gestures across the entire keyboard. Touch Cover 2 has an estimated retail price of $119.99. It will be available for pre-order on Sept. 24 in all markets where Surface devices are available for pre-order.
• Type Cover 2. Type Cover 2 features the same super-thin, lightweight design of the original Type Cover, but it’s now backlit and will be available in Cyan, Magenta, Purple and Black in the coming months. It’s also more rigid, providing a better lap-typing experience, and is designed to be noticeably quieter when striking keys. Type Cover 2 will have an estimated retail price of $129.99. It will be available for pre-order on Sept. 24 in all markets where Surface devices are available for pre-order.
• Power Cover. Power Cover delivers the same great typing experience you get with Type Cover while extending the battery life of your Surface 2, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 by up to 50 percent to help you make it through that late-night meeting or the entire flight. Power Cover will have an estimated retail price of $199.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014.
• Docking Station for Surface Pro. The Docking Station for Surface Pro lets you quickly connect Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 to desktop PC peripherals in a single step, taking you from laptop to desktop in an instant. While Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 is docked, it can connect with an external monitor, Ethernet, speakers and power supply. PC peripherals connect via its one USB 3.0 port and three USB 2.0 ports. The Docking Station for Surface Pro will have an estimated retail price of $199.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014.
• Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers. The Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers connects magnetically to any Touch or Type Cover, letting you type from anywhere in the room using Bluetooth technology, so it is even easier to connect Surface to a TV or monitor and type from another location, such as the couch. Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers will have an estimated retail price of $59.99. It will be available for pre-order in the U.S. and Canada beginning Sept. 24.
• Car Charger with USB. Car Charger plugs into most cars’ power or lighter ports and charges Surface without the need for an additional adapter. It also features a USB port to allow simultaneous charging of a phone or other device. Car Charger will have an estimated retail price of $49.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014.
• Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition. This special-edition Arc Touch Mouse has been updated to match the look of Surface. Like other Arc Touch mice, it is designed for comfort and flattens for portability. It connects via Bluetooth 3.0, freeing Surface’s USB port for use by other devices. Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition will have an estimated retail price of $69.99 and will be available for pre-order in the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 24. Distribution in additional markets is projected to begin in the coming months.