Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are the 'most productive devices" that it has ever built, says the tech giant's Surface unit executive, who presented on Monday these next-generation of Surface and upgraded accessories.
Surface Pro 2
Although Surface Pro 2 release dates have not yet been disclosed, it is a full-blown, workstation-quality business product that is reportedly faster than 95 percent of laptops, said Microsoft Vice President Surface Panos Panay on Monday at a New York City event.
With the added ClearType HD display, Surface Pro 2 boasts of an improved 46 percent color accuracy with the least amount of reflectivity. Meanwhile, the graphic performance is increased by 50 percent.
The second generation of Surface Pro is powered by Intel's Haswell processor that not only increase overall performance by 20 percent, but also brings a 20 percent improvement in battery life. In conclusion, Surface Pro 2 operates cooler, quieter, and has a total of 75 percent more battery life than its predecessors.
Moreover, Power Cover, the latest keyboard accessory packed with a 30wh battery, increases the original product's battery life by two and half times. It also charges the Surface devices, except Surface RT, when not in use.
While last year's Surface RT and Surface Pro sales failed to appeal to businesses, Microsoft has unveiled its $200 Surface Docking Station accessory. It features 3x USB 3.0, 1 USB 1.0, Mini DisplayPort that support a 3,840x2,160 resolution desktop monitor, Ethernet, audio in, audio out, and power. In addition, the Surface tablets slide easily into the Docking Station and clicks into place. Two monitors can be powered into this accessory, which also allows users to use Type/Touch Cover at the same time.
Surface Pro 2's starting price is $899 for the 64GB/4GB RAM version. Other versions include 128GB/4GB RAM, 256GB/8GB RAM, and 512GB/8GB RAM.
Microsoft started the designing of Surface 2 about a year and half ago, which was before Surface RT debuted in October, 2012. The RT was a flop, and a New York Times contributor attributed to Microsoft offering too many options to buyers.
Today, Panay unveiled the Surface 2, a heavily improved version from the original Surface RT, and emphasized the new tablet's design goal is to help users become more productive and away from their iPad or tablets.
Surface 2 uses a Tegra 4 processor from Nvidia, which Panay said is the "fastest product I've used relative to a personal tablet." Meanwhile, it supports USB 3.0, which is the original Surface RT didn't.
The screen uses a full 1080p ClearType display as in Surface Pro 2. Its camera has been improved - a 3.5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Both capture 1080p full HD video.
Surface 2's operating system is Windows RT 8.1, which allows users to multi-task and to enhance productivity. Panay demonstrated running all four Office apps at the same time while playing video game Halo.
In addition, there were only 10,000 apps, but, this year, over 100,000 apps were available in the Windows Store now.
A major selling-point that Microsoft used for Surface RT tablet was its Office RT applications, but did not include Office. However, Microsoft has learned its lesson and has decided to go all out and include Outlook RT in the four major Office apps included in Surface 2.
Surface 2 will become available on October 22, 2013. Pre-orders will begin Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. ET.
Type Cover 2 and Touch Cover 2
The $130 Type Cover 2 accessory comes in four different colors - cyan, magenta, purple, and black. It is 1mm thinner than the last Type cover. Meanwhile, the $120 Touch Cover 2 features faster type responsiveness. All of these will work with older Surface Pros and new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets. Both covers are now backlit.
Touch Cover 2 now features 1,092 sensors, which completely erases its original Touch Cover 1 that had only 80 sensors. "It's thinner. It's lighter. It's like a piece of paper," said Panay. "With the high resolution sensor ... you can't miss a key." Touch Cover 2 comes with predictive typing - users can be confident to not miss words. It also comes with pressure sensitivity as in the first product. Even the sound volume it produces varies according to pressure.
'Best of Skype' and SkyDrive
Microsoft is bundling in "Best of Skype," free Skype Wi-Fi hotspots with international calling. The company is also offering buyers of Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 with 200GB of SkyDrive for two years free from day one.
"The power of designing for all Microsoft is in this product. You will feel it when you use it," said Panay.
To purchase Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2, visit Microsoft's website here.