Monday, September 23, 2013
Microsoft renews it's tablet assault with Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 & a variety of accessories
Microsoft's Surface RT tablet was a huge disappointment last year, requiring a nearly-$1B write off and a massive price cut from the company. The Surface Pro was a much better machine, and not as catastrophically unsuccessful, but it wasn't exactly a best seller either.
Redmond's finest is hoping to reverse that trend with a much more competitive set of tablets and docks this year, the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, along with revamped Type & Touch Covers and a new Power Cover.
The Surface 2 is the direct successor to the ill-fated Surface RT, and it fixes two of the biggest complaints: There's a new full HD 1920x1080p Cleartype 10" display that looks beautiful, and a NVidia Tegra 4 SoC that should improve performance dramatically. It's also thinner and lighter, has a redesigned kickstand, comes in silver or black, and Microsoft claims it'll get 10 hour on one charge of the battery.
As for software, it runs Windows RT 8.1 with 100,000 apps available in the store and bundled copies of the entire Office Suite. It'll ship on October 22nd for $449 with 32GB's or $549 for 64GB's.
The Surface Pro 2, meanwhile, has been updated with Intel's Haswell Core i5 processors, enabling 50% better graphics performance, 20% better CPU performance and 60% better power efficiency. The screen is still a 1080p 10.6" display, but the color accuracy has been improved by 46%. The kickstand now has two modes, either last year's 22 degree angle or a new 55 degree angle, and the device will cost $899 for the cheapest configuration with 4GB's of RAM, a 64GB SSD and a Core i5. You can double the RAM, quadruple the storage or add a Core i7 processor.
As for accessories, the new Type Cover 2 keyboard dock has a backlight, is 1mm thinner, and comes in purple, pink, blue or black for $129. The Touch Cover 2 is an enhanced version of the touch sensitive keyboard from last year, which adds a backlight, sheds 2mm's of thickness, and it has 1,092 sensors inside instead of just 80. This allows better accuracy, and it will also let you use the entire surface of the Touch Cover as a giant trackpad, and it costs $119. There's also a new Power Cover, which is a Type Cover 2 with a built in battery to power your tablet, for $199.
Microsoft has also announced a wireless adapter for the touch/type/power covers, allowing you to use them with a bluetooth connection instead of the normal physical port. That'll cost $59, but it's not shipping till next year. They even launched a desktop dock for the Surface Pro 2, which adds several USB 3.0, a mini Displayport, audio in & out and an Ethernet jack, for $199 early next year.
And finally, the craziest aspect of the entire launch is the new Surface Music Cover, which is basically a modified Touch Cover with DJ controls instead of keys. It works with Xbox Music, along with a specific DJ app called Project Remix.