Microsoft has announced the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets, featuring updated spec sheets, improved battery life, new accessories, and version 8.1 of Windows RT and Windows 8.
The new arrivals were announced this afternoon as expected, with pre-orders set to open tomorrow ahead of the tablet duo's actual availability on October 22.
Starting with the flagship Surface Pro 2, and on the physical side of things there's not much change – the display is unchanged, and it's the same size and weight. There is a newly reimagined Kickstand 2 for dual-angle support, while a full docking station is on the way with USB ports that'll turn the Surface Pro 2 into not far short of a Microsoft-branded laptop.
The major difference on the inside is the move to Intel's fourth-generation Haswell Core i5 processor, which together with the jump from 4GB to 8GB of RAM (on the models with higher storage anyway) delivers the dual benefit of improved performance and better battery life – as much as 60% better from the same 4200mAh call (Microsoft's own figures).
That aside, Windows 8.1 is touted as another plus over the original, but that's more just a question of timing, as 8.1 will be available as a free download on the original Surface Pro too.
There are four Surface Pro 2 models to choose from – the 4GB RAM option with 64GB or 128GB of storage, and the 8GB RAM models in 256GB and 512GB configurations.
The 10.6in display remains unchanged.
Prices start at £719, which is £80 more than the reduced price of the original with the same storage.
As for the lesser Surface 2, which replaces the current Surface RT, the changes are more across the board. The tablet itself is thinner and lighter (though in both cases only slightly), while Microsoft has moved to a 10.6in full HD panel from the current 1366 x 768 effort – a welcome improvement.
The processor has been bumped from a Tegra 3 to a 1.7GHz Tegra 4, while memory remains at 2GB. That should still mean improved graphics and a boost from around 7.5 hours of battery life to around 10 hours.
Prices will start at £359 for the 32GB model, with the 64GB going for £439 – again, £80 more than the originals currently cost.
All new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 models will come with 200GB of free Skydrive storage for two years as well as a year of free international Skype calls and Wi-Fi hotspot access.