Right on schedule, Microsoft has officially refreshed its line of Windows 8-powered Surface tablets. Two new models were announced today: the Surface 2, which runs Windows RT and is the successor to the Surface RT, and the Surface Pro 2 that sports full-fledged Windows 8.1.
The Surface 2 features the same 10.6-inch display as its predecessor, but the resolution of that screen has been bumped from 1366x768 up to 1920x1080. Microsoft has also opted to upgrade the processor buried inside the Surface 2 by giving it a 1.7GHz quad-core Tegra 4 chipset that's expected to enabled faster app performance and up to 10 hours of video playback.
Also included with the Surface 2 is a 5-megapixel rear camera, 3.5-megapixel front-facing shooter, 2GB RAM, 32GB/64GB built-in storage, microSD card slot, and a full-size USB 3.0 port. All of that is packed into a body that Microsoft claims is thinner and lighter than its predecessor. Speaking of its body, the Surface 2 features the same Vapor Mg casing as the original model, but this time the device will be available with a silver backside. Additionally, the Surface 2's kickstand now features two different positions.
The Surface 2 will be available for pre-order starting on Sept. 24 and will launch in Microsoft Stores and other select retail locations on Oct. 22. Pricing will be set at $449 for the 32GB model and $549 for the more capacious 64GB variant.
Moving on to the Surface Pro 2, a device that Microsoft describes as "a true laptop replacement." The Surface Pro 2 sports the same 10.6-inch 1080p display as the Surface 2, but things get very different when we move inside the device. That's where the Surface Pro 2's 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor lives alongside either 4GB or 8GB of RAM. Customers will also have storage options that include 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB, all of which can be supplemented with a microSD card.
Rounding out the Surface Pro 2's spec list is a pair of front and rear 720p cameras, a full-size USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and a full-on version of Windows 8.1. Like the original Surface Pro before it, the Surface Pro 2 comes bundled with a stylus pen with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Pre-orders for Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 will kick off on Sept. 24, with a launch scheduled to follow on Oct. 22. Microsoft says that pricing will start at $899 for the 64GB model and go up to $999 for the 128GB model, $1,299 for the 256GB unit and $1,799 for the 512GB variant.
Along with its new Surface models, Microsoft has introduced several accessories for consumers to deck out their new tablets with. Here's a rundown of all the new goodies announced today:
- Touch Cover 2: Keyboard cover that's both thinner and lighter than the first version. The Touch Cover 2 measures 2.75mm thick and includes backlit keys and updated sensors that allow for gesture input. Pricing for the Touch Cover 2 will be set at $119.99 and will be available for pre-order on Sept. 24.
- Type Cover 2: Sporting more tactile keys that those found on the Touch Cover 2, the Type Cover 2 is more rigid than the original model for a better in-lap experience. The keys are also said to be quieter this time around, and Microsoft has also decided to brighten the Touch Cover 2 up by offering it in cyan, magenta and purple in addition to the black color found on the first Type Cover. The Type Cover 2 will be sold for $129.99 and will also be available for pre-order on Sept. 24.
- Power Cover: Offers a design similar to the Touch Cover 2, but the Power Cover also packs in its own battery to help extend the battery life of the Surface 2, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 by up to 50 percent. Expect this keyboard cover to set buyers back $199.99 when it launches in early 2014.
- Docking Station for Surface Pro: Works with both the original Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 2. This accessory allows users to hook their tablet up to desktop PC peripherals like an external monitor, Ethernet port and set of speakers. Pricing for the Docking Station will be set at $199.99 when the device debuts in early 2014.
- Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers: As its name suggests, this accessory clips onto the Touch and Type Covers and enables users to type on their Surface from a distance using a Bluetooth connection. The Wireless Adapter will be available for pre-order on Sept. 24 for $59.99.
- Car Charger with USB: Another self-explanatory gadget, this accessory will plug into the lighter port of most cars and charge a Surface tablet. An additional USB port allows for a second device to be charged simultaneously. Expect the Car Charger with USB to come in at $49.99 when it launches in early 2014.
- Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition: Rounding out Microsoft's bag of accessories is a special edition Arc Touch Mouse that features a design that matches the Surface tablets. The Arc Touch Mouse connects over Bluetooth and can be flattened to make it more portable. It'll be available for pre-order on Sept. 24 for $59.99.
So there's Microsoft's new Surface tablets and a fresh batch of accessories to go along with them. Both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 seem like nice, evolutionary updates to the first models, and that silver backside on the Surface 2 looks pretty spiffy. Just in case the updated specs aren't enough to convince consumers to pull the trigger on a new Surface, though, Microsoft is also throwing in 200GB of free SkyDrive storage for two years with each device. What do you make of Microsoft's Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2? Are you thinking about adding one to your gadget arsenal?