After Google and Apple, Microsoft has made its “big” announcement for the month. The company has launched its new Surface tablets running on the latest Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 OS updates. The Surface Pro 2 is the revamped version of the Surface Pro and runs on Windows 8.1. Let’s take a look at the specifications to find out what changes have Microsoft introduced with the new iteration.
OS – Windows 8.1
The Surface Pro 2 runs on the newest Windows 8.1 update, codenamed “Blue”. While the 8.1 update has created some ripples due to its modern-looking UI, the update does a lot to fix the problems that Windows 8 was launched with. The biggest and a welcome change is that Microsoft is bringing back the good ‘ol “Start” button. The 8.1 update will come with a host of new features, apps, new highlights and more. Some of which are a better on-screen keyboard, new alignment features as users can open two or more windows side by side, Internet Explorer 11 and UI scaling at up to 200 percent. One of the apps pre-installed in the device is Skype and the Surface Pro 2 tablet owner will also receive a year of free international calls and access to Skype public Wi-Fi hotpsots.
Display: 10.6-inch ClearType capacitive touchscreen with 1080p
Microsoft hasn’t brought anything new with the display. The Surface Pro 2 gets the same 10.6-inch ClearType touchscreen display as seen in the previous model. The resolution hasn't been upgraded, and you’ll find the same 1920 x 1080 pixels. But we're happy with a full-HD display. The company has also employed a screen panel with 46 percent better color accuracy. All in all, we don’t think the screen would disappoint.
The new Surface Pro 2
Form-factor – Not much change here
Not much has changed in terms of the design of the Surface Pro 2 compared to its predecessor, except for the new kickstand. The built-in kickstand is definitely and the-only stand-out feature (no pun intended). It supports two positions, allowing the tablet to either stand upright, or at a tilted 45 degrees. The build quality is maintained well with the “VaporMg” magnesium casing. The tablet hasn’t got any lighter as it still weighs the same 907 grams and measures 27.46 x 17.30 x 1.35mm.
Though there aren’t many changes in the design, the tablet gets a bevy of new accessories. It gets the Power Cover to help boost the battery life and Music Kit, a simplified keyboard with bigger buttons to be used with sound recording software. Then, there’s the really cool Docking Station, which is basically a port replicator (and extender) for your Surface Pro 2. The Docking Station features four USB ports, one Mini DisplayPort, 3.5mm audio in and out sockets and an Ethernet socket.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is powered by the fourth-generation Intel Core i5-4200U “Haswell” processor, clocked at 1.6 GHz. However, it is capable of running at up to 2.6GHz, owing to Intel's Turbo Boost tech. It also gets Intel HD Graphics 4400 which helps deliver 50 percent better graphics performance compared to its predecessor. All this has been coupled with 4GB of RAM, while higher 256GB and 512GB configurations will get 8GB of RAM. The company claims that the Surface Pro 2 is faster than 95 percent of today's laptops. However, we’ll know that only after some benchmark test results are out.
Internal storage – Two options with microSD card slot, cloud and SSD options
The Surface Pro comes with either 64GB or 128GB of internal flash memory and 256 GB and 512 GB of SSD storage. Users can further expand the memory using the microSD card slot and even the 200GB free SkyDrive space that the company is offering. Overall we're quite satisfied with the storage options the Surface Pro comes with. It allows us to dream of this device replacing our laptops.
Camera – 1.9MP rear and front cameras
Like the last time the cameras on the Surface Pro are a disappointment. Microsoft has employed the same 1.9MP cameras on the front and back, capable of taking 720p videos. Not too bad for video conversations, but do not expect the tablet to be great at capturing stills.
Sensors, GPS & Connectivity
The Surface Pro 2 comes with the usual suspects, an accelerometer, gyro and a compass and nothing more. About the GPS, Microsoft has been silent as to whether it supports A-GPS or GLONASS. The tablet supports dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, but again it isn’t clear whether it will support the “ac” draft. Wi-Fi Direct can be used to share files with other phones on the same network. The big hole in Microsoft's announcement last night was no mention of whether the Surface Pro 2 comes with either 3G or LTE connectivity.
The battery life was one of the sore points of the original Surface Pro which lasted roughly 5 hours. However, the company has made some correction here as the Pro 2 is said to offer 75 percent longer battery life. The Pro 2 gets the same 4,200mAh battery, but supposedly there’s some better battery management introduced. The new Power Cover, which is a keyboard cover with a battery pack, allows extending it further.
Visually, the Pro 2 is quite similar to its predecessor. Apart from sharper display, better battery and improved performance, there aren’t many surprises that Microsoft has added with its new tablet. Instead of new features the company has focused on a bevy of accessories that can be used as enhancements. For instance – Power Cover helps increase the battery life, Docking Station acts like a desktop replacement. Clearly, if Microsoft is hoping that with the current iteration of the Surface Pro 2 it takes steps towards becoming a laptop replacement, not a plan many of its OEM partners will be happy with.
The Surface Pro 2 will be available for pre-order from September 24 on the official Microsoft online store starting from $899 (Rs 56270 approx).
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