REDMOND TABLET MAKER Microsoft has unveiled an updated lineup of Surface branded tablets, the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2, touting better battery life, improved performance and updated detachable keyboard covers in its bid to replace the laptop.
Aimed at being more productive machines for users, Microsoft's tablet range has been updated physically by improving its kickstand and giving it "dual angle" support so it sits better on, er, surfaces.
Powered by Intel's latest fourth generation Core processors, the Surface Pro 2 is the more powerful of the two and comes with an upgraded Cleartype HD display with 46 percent more colour accuracy.
Touted as "faster than 95 percent of laptops today", the Surface Pro 2's graphics deliver 50 percent better performance compared to the original Surface Pro. The Redmond firm also claimed that the Surface Pro 2 will run 20 percent faster.
This, Microsoft said, is thanks to an Intel Haswell Core i5 chip that runs faster, cooler and quieter, thus increasing the battery life by 60 percent compared to the last Surface Pro.
In our review, the original Surface Pro lasted four and a half hours during uninterrupted use on full brightness, so in theory the Surface Pro 2 should run for just over seven hours before draining its battery.
However, this time around Microsoft has launched its Surface tablet lineup with a "power cover", a protective case with a built-in 30W battery that apparently offers 50 percent more battery life.
Starting at £719, the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 will arrive in 64GB and 128GB internal storage models with 4GB of RAM, and in 256GB and 512GB internal storage models with 8GB of RAM. It will go on sale towards the end of October.
Along with the Surface Pro 2, Microsoft has also unveiled its less powerful Surface 2 tablet which succeeds its not-so-popular Surface RT.
Powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor and running the updated Windows RT 8.1 mobile operating system (OS), the Surface 2 is "thinner, faster and lighter than the Surface RT" and comes in a silver colour that shows off its magnesium construction.
The Surface 2 table has a full HD 1080p 10.6in Cleartype display that Microsoft said is "the revamp people need", as it not only offers increased performance with USB 3.0, and the ability to multitask apps such as running the whole Microsoft Office at once, but it is also capable of capturing HD 1080p video for more detailed video conversations.
The Surface 2 runs the Windows RT 8.1 OS. We were rather disappointed with Windows RT on the original Surface RT tablet, mainly due to its lack of apps. However, Microsoft promises there'll be more apps this time around, including the addition of a dedicated Flipboard and Facebook app and Outlook RT, though there's no word as to when we are likely to see these extras.
The Surface 2 tablet will be available in 32GB and 64GB configurations starting at £359 when it launches in the UK on October 22.
Pre-orders for both tablets will begin at 2pm on 24 September.
Both Surface tablets will come with 200GB of Skydrive for two years for free, along with a number of accessories that will cost extra, of course.
First off, there's a Surface docking station, which gives users an additional USB 3.0 slot, three USB 2.0 slots, a Mini Displayport, Ethernet, audio-in, audio-out and power connectivity ports. The Surface can be slid right into the docking station, clicking into place and allowing users to power two monitors. This will have an estimated retail price of £164.99 when it launches in the UK sometime in early 2014.
Microsoft has also updated the Surfaces tablets' keyboard covers, the Touch Cover 2 and the Type Cover 2.
The Touch Cover 2 is both thinner and lighter than the original Touch Cover, measuring 2.75mm thin, and features backlit keys for better readability. It should retail for £99.99 when it goes up for pre-order on 24 September.
Microsoft hasn't left out the Type Cover, updating it and offering a sequel with a backlight and colour options of Cyan, Magenta, Purple and Black.
"It's also more rigid, providing a better lap-typing experience, and is designed to be noticeably quieter when striking keys," Microsoft said.
The Type Cover 2 will retail for £109.99. µ
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