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Microsoft launches Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 Windows tablets with new accessories

Microsoft is hoping to improve its standing in the tablet PC market with two new models which it unveiled yesterday; the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2.

Both devices of course run Windows, with the Surface 2 running Windows RT 8.1 and the Pro 2 offering the more advanced Windows 8.1 Pro. The two are respective upgrades to Microsoft’s first own-brand tablets, the Surface RT and Surface Pro, which launched late last year.

Surface 2

Although still running the slimmed-down Windows RT operating system, Microsoft has dropped that part from the name and launched the Surface 2 as a successor to the Surface RT. A number of changes have been made to appease complaints from the original:

  • The Surface 2 is marginally thinner and lighter, despite keeping very much the same design on the outside. Its crucial measurements are 274.6 x 172.5 x 8.9mm and a weight of 676g.
  • A big processor upgrade features in the Surface 2; the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 chip, clocked at 1.7GHz. Whilst the Surface RT’s Tegra 3 chip was good, the Surface 2 will have enough power to blast away any lag when gaming and switching between apps.
  • The screen size remains the same at 10.6-inches but Microsoft has bumped the quality up to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) and claims to have improved colour accuracy by 50%.
  • The Surface 2 will offer a 25% better battery life over the Surface RT, with an impressive 10 hours of video playback quoted.
  • Microsoft has kept the 5 megapixel camera on the back the same, but has upgraded the front-facing sensor to a much larger one which should offer better video call quality in lower light situations. For those who love figures, it’s a 3.5 megapixel sensor.
  • Whilst the second gen model looks very similar to the original, it does incorporate a new two-point kickstand which offers two different viewing angles, plus a new silver and white colour which we feel is much better than the drab black of the Surface RT.
  • Finally, new Windows RT 8.1 software will be loaded. New features, improvements and more that will mimic Windows 8.1 but in a more slimmed-down form.

Surface Pro 2

Microsoft’s tablet for professionals has also been upgraded and thanks to a crucial fix to the battery life, could now be a viable option when considering which portable computing device to buy for those who demand a lot from their gadgets. Here are the key changes in the Surface Pro 2:

  • A 20% speed improvement comes courtesy of the latest Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and an Intel HD Graphics 4400 chip. That’s double the RAM, a more powerful graphics chip and the new Haswell chip from Intel which brings more power and still more battery life to the party.
  • Despite featuring the exact same battery size as the Surface Pro, the 2nd gen model can offer up to 75% better battery life, says Microsoft. That’s quite an improvement, though the performance of the original was pretty poor, to say the least.
  • Windows 8.1 will be loaded from the off, which means lots of improvements over Windows 8 and a bunch of new features.
  • The display is identical to the original: a 10.6-inch Full HD ClearType screen, the very same as the new Surface 2.
  • Asides from the new kickstand, which also features on the Surface 2, the design is identical to the original Surface Pro. In fact, Microsoft says the dimensions and weight are exactly the same as well: 27.46 x 17.30 x 1.35mm and 907g.

The company also revealed a range of new accessories, including new Touch Cover Type Cover keyboards which feature a huge upgrade in terms of how many sensors inside can detect your fingers as they type. There’s also a dock, mouse and Power Cover, which is a keyboard and secondary battery pack in one.

Both tablets will become available to pre-order in 22 countries from today – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

UK prices are £359 for the Surface 2 and £719 for the Surface Pro 2 – pre-orders can be made here.