Following last year's introduction of its Surface Tablet PCs with Windows 8 and Windows RT, Microsoft today announced that the Surface family of tablets will grow. Two new Surface models - the Surface 2 (RT) and Surface Pro 2 - along with an expanded portfolio of new Surface accessories, will be available at Microsoft retail stores as well as online and select third-party retailers from October 22. The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 each benefit from significant updates, including improvements to processing power and battery life, to display and camera resolution, and to the Kickstand, now with dual angles, so it's more comfortable for you to use your Surface on your lap or at your desk. Enhancements in Windows RT 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro make Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 even more powerful and customizable.
To help people get the most out of Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, customers purchasing either device will receive free Skype calling to landlines in more than 60 countries for one year, unlimited Skype WiFi on their Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 at more than 2 million hot spots worldwide for one year, and 200 GB of free SkyDrive storage for two years.
The Surface 2 (RT) - the successor of the Surface RT - is said to be the most productive tablet for personal use. It offers all the entertainment and gaming capabilities you expect from a tablet, along with the ability to get work done. Surface 2 is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, making apps run faster and smoother and increasing battery life to up to 10 hours for video playback. The 10.6" ClearType Full HD display now renders Full HD 1080p video for enjoying shows and movies, and its full-size USB port has been upgraded to USB 3.0 for up to four times faster file transfers. Camera resolution has also increased, with a 3.5 megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera, both capable of capturing 1080p video and featuring improved low-light performance, making face-to-face conversations with your favorite people crisp and clear. Even with these and other upgrades, Surface 2 is slightly thinner and lighter than its predecessor.
Microsoft has definitely not given up its idea of Windows RT for tablets and therefore will the Surface 2 shipping with Windows RT 8.1. Which is said to bring improvements in key areas such as personalization, search, multitasking, built-in apps, the Windows Store experience and cloud connectivity. The new Xbox Music allows you to stream millions of songs for free, and an updated Video app and great games from the Windows Store such as "Halo: Spartan Assault" will ensure that you never run out of ways to play. When it's time to get serious, Surface 2 is pre-loaded with Microsoft Office 2013 RT - including Outlook RT; simply click in a Touch or Type Cover and get to work.
The Surface 2 will be available in 32 GB and 64 GB configurations and will starts to resell at US$ 449.
The Surface Pro 2 is the successor to Surface Pro and, like its predecessor, is a true laptop replacement, capable of running virtually all Windows software including the full Microsoft Office suite, as well as apps from the Windows Store. Surface Pro 2 offers the portability and simplicity of a tablet when you want it and the power and flexibility of a laptop when you need it. It is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor which, combined with other improvements, delivers increased performance and up to 60 percent longer battery life than Surface Pro.
Starting at US$ 899, Surface Pro 2 will be offered in 64 GB and 128 GB SSD configurations with 4 GB of RAM and 256 GB and 512 GB SSD configurations with 8 GB of RAM.
Today's announcement also includes seven new accessories that will make Surface even more flexible, more portable and more productive:
Touch Cover 2 - Thinner and lighter than the original Touch Cover, measuring only 2.75 mm thin, Touch Cover 2 features backlit keys for even better readability. Touch Cover 2 is more rigid, registers keystrokes with greater accuracy and features updated sensors that support a variety of gestures across the entire keyboard. Touch Cover 2 has an estimated retail price of US$ 119.99. It will be available for pre-order on Sept. 24 in all markets where Surface devices are available for pre-order.
Type Cover 2 - Type Cover 2 features the same super-thin, lightweight design of the original Type Cover, but it's now backlit and will be available in Cyan, Magenta, Purple and Black in the coming months. It's also more rigid, providing a better lap-typing experience, and is designed to be noticeably quieter when striking keys. Type Cover 2 will have an estimated retail price of US$ 129.99. It will be available for pre-order on Sept. 24 in all markets where Surface devices are available for pre-order.
Power Cover - Power Cover delivers the same great typing experience you get with Type Cover while extending the battery life of the Surface 2, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 by up to 50 percent to help you make it through that late-night meeting or the entire flight. Power Cover will have an estimated retail price of US$ 199.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014.
Docking Station for Surface Pro - The Docking Station for Surface Pro will allow to quickly connect Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 to desktop PC peripherals in a single step, taking you from laptop to desktop in an instant. While Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 is docked, it can connect with an external monitor, Ethernet, speakers and power supply. PC peripherals connect via its one USB 3.0 port and three USB 2.0 ports. The Docking Station for Surface Pro will have an estimated retail price of US$ 199.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014.
Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers - The Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers connects magnetically to any Touch or Type Cover, allowing to type from anywhere in the room using Bluetooth technology, so it is even easier to connect Surface to a TV or monitor and type from another location, such as the couch. Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers will have an estimated retail price of US$ 59.99. It will be available for pre-order in the U.S. and Canada beginning Sept. 24.
Car Charger with USB - Car Charger plugs into most cars' power or lighter ports and charges Surface without the need for an additional adapter. It also features a USB port to allow simultaneous charging of a phone or other device. Car Charger will have an estimated retail price of US$ 49.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014.
Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition - This special-edition Arc Touch Mouse has been updated to match the look of Surface. Like other Arc Touch mice, it is designed for comfort and flattens for portability. It connects via Bluetooth 3.0, freeing Surface's USB port for use by other devices. Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition will have an estimated retail price of US$ 69.99 and will be available for pre-order in the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 24. Distribution in additional markets is projected to begin in the coming months.
The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will be 22 initially launched in 22 markets, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States on Oct. 22; with China following up in early November. Additional markets will be announced in the coming months.
Customers can pre-order Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 starting at 8 a.m. EDT on Sept. 24, 2013, at Microsoft's online store, Microsoft Stores and Best Buy in the U.S. and Canada, as well as select retailers in most Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 launch markets.
Cheers ~ Arne