Microsoft ushers in Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2

Improved performance, longer battery life and a host of ingenious accessories are the focusses of the second generation of Windows tablets
Microsoft Surface 2

Microsoft has unveiled its second generation of Surface tablets at a New York event.

There are two new models in the range: the Surface 2, which runs on Windows RT 8.1, and the Surface Pro 2, which boasts full Windows 8.1.

Surface Pro 2: an end to battery issues?

Surface Pro 2

The Surface Pro 2 is “literally faster than 95 percent of laptops” according to Microsoft’s Panos Panay. It runs off Intel Haswell processors that give it a 20 percent speed and 50 percent graphics processing bump over the original Surface Pro. Haswell’s low-power operation and battery improvements also offer up to 60 percent more on-the-go use – a response to one of the main criticisms of the original Pro.

It’s physically similar to the original Pro, but Microsoft has redesigned the kickstand to make it more comfortable to use on your lap. The screen remains full HD but Microsoft claims image quality has been improved, and new speakers have been built-in. There’s also USB 3.0.

The Pro 2 comes in a variety of configurations: 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM (£720); 128GB and 4GB (£800); 256GB and 8GB (£1040); and 512GB and 8GB (£1,440).

A thinner, lighter Surface 2

Surface 2 in silver

The Surface 2 is lighter, thinner and faster than its predecessor. It now runs on a Tegra 4 processor and features a full HD 1080p screen and USB 3.0 port, plus improved front and rear cameras. The battery lasts for up to 10 hours. Perhaps the most significant improvement is not to the hardware, though: there are now 100,000 apps available for it, whereas there were only 10,000 when the original Surface arrived. It’s available in 32GB and 64GB versions, costing £360 and £430 respectively.

Both Surfaces come with two years of 200GB of SkyDrive space and a year of free international calls via Skype. They go on sale on 22nd October in the US, with a UK release date yet to be confirmed.

A host of new add-ons

Alongside the new tablets comes a new set of accessories. Power Cover is a keyboard cover that houses a battery, able to increase battery life of any Surface model by up to 50 percent. Type Cover 2 is 1mm thinner than the original Type Cover, and features backlit keys. Touch Cover 2 also features backlighting and a thinner form, but the biggest improvement is its sensitivity: with 1092 sensors instead of 80, it promises far greater responsiveness.

For the Surface Pro 2, there’s a new Docking Station that lets you hook up a second monitor, full-size keyboard, printer, speakers and other peripherals. It has three USB 3.0 ports, one USB 1.0 port, audio in and out and MiniDisplay port for a monitor. It’s expected to launch in early 2014, with pricing yet to be confirmed.