Microsoft has finally unveiled the new additions it has made to the Surface tablet line-up, the Surface Pro 2 and the Surface 2. And the specifications sheet shows a considerable amount of change which extend over and above the basic Surface concept. While there is a big list to look over, the first on the list was a closer look at the new version of the Surface RT, the Surface 2. The updated model does away with the RT moniker, instead sticking with the simple “Surface” tag.
The revamped model comes with a Tegra 4 processor ticking inside, as well as a 1080p display and a new two-stage kickstand. Before looking at the internals, it is important to look at the kickstand the new tablet comes with. While the company has sought to answer some of the criticism levied against the Surface RT, the kickstand is still not fully adjustable with separate angles. Instead, the Surface 2 comes with only two angles. While one is the ordinary laptop style, the other looks to be set for an angle you would take while placing the tablet on your lap. The latter seems to be a wise move, because it should feel more comfortable to use as it probably won't tip forward or fall backward on your knees. The kickstand also comes with a small mechanism to keep it locked in place.
Another difference between the new tablet and its predecessor is the design. While the original Surface RT came in a black avatar, the company has now chosen to design the revamped edition with a silver colour. While the front of the Surface 2 still comes with a black bezel, official images show a silver trim that extends around the rest of the device. Another major difference is the replacement of the Windows logo at the rear of the Surface 2, which has now been replaced with the Surface wordmark.
Microsoft's new tablet addition, the Surface 2
Other than this, though, the new tablet looks remarkably similar to the Surface RT. Minor differences have been noted in the speaker grills, which look slightly larger, and in the keyboard connector. The connector now comes with extra contact points. Peripherally, the new tablet can be plugged into the new Touch Cover 2, featuring a backlight and 1,092 sensors as opposed to the 90 sensors in the previous edition of the Touch Cover. The new Cover also comes with gesture controls for the off chance that users may feel the need to wave at their tablets instead of just touching it.
Most of the changes seen in the Surface 2 are on the inside. While the 10.6-inch display remains unchanged in the new model, Microsoft has bumped up the pixel screen resolution to Full 1080p HD (1920 x 1080 pixels). This is a significant jump from the 1366 x 768 pixel screen resolution of the earlier model. The company has also stated that the colour accuracy of the new display is 50 percent better.
The biggest difference, in our books, is the processor. While the Surface RT came to the market with a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, the revamped version comes packing a 1.7GHz quad-core Tegra 4 chip that sports 72 GPU cores. This is massive compared to the 12 cores sported by the Tegra 3. The company demonstrated the smooth multi-tasking capabilities at its launch on Monday by simultaneously running Office RT apps in the background while playing Halo:Spartan Assault.
The Surface 2 comes with a few new physical input points
In terms of OS, as expected, the new tablet avatar comes with the latest RT version of Windows 8.1, packing new snap views, differently sized tiles and a whole lot more. The new tablet also comes with Microsoft Office, Outlook as well as the “best of Skype” for a year. The latter will provide free international calling and free Wi-Fi, according to the company. Users will also get 200GB of SkyDrive storage for two years on picking up the new tablet. The app store has also been increased, with the Windows Store now featuring 1, 00,000 app, comparable to the 10,000 that were available when the Surface RT came to the market.
The company, unfortunately, has not bulked up the memory of the new tablet. Like its predecessor, the Surface 2 sports 2MB of RAM and will come in 32GB and 64GB internal memory variants. The same SDXC card slot is also featured in the revamped tablet. In terms of connectivity, most of the 2013 suspects are featured. Wi-Fi 802.11/a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 are seen. There is still no mention of 3G or LTE connectivity. In terms of physical connection, though, the Surface 2 comes with a faster USB 3.0 slot. All the other specifications seen in the RT are present in the Surface 2, including an ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass and Cover port.
The new Surface tablet comes with a 3.5-megaixel front shooter and a better one-third inch image sensor. This should result in better low light photography. The company has also promised a better, longer battery life with the new avatar. The official press release says that the Surface 2 can give up to 10 hours of video playback.
Surface 2 with one of Microsoft's new accessories, the new Surface Cover
The Surface RT currently sells for $349 (Rs 21,840 approx), the Surface 2, predicatbly, will come with a higher price tag of $449 (Rs 28,100 approx). There is still no word on the official price at which the Surface 2 will come in other markets like India. The new tablet line-up, which includes the Surface Pro 2, will be up for pre-order from September 24. The company has stated that the new tablet will be rolled out in 22 initial markets on October 22 and more markets will be added to the list in the coming months.