Microsoft has announced expansion of its Surface family of tablets. Two new Surface models - Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 - along with an expanded portfolio of new Surface accessories, will be available at Microsoft retail stores and select third-party retailers and commercial resellers in 22 initial 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 UK and the US on October 22 and China in early November. Additional markets will be announced in the coming months.
The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 each benefit from 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 consumers to use their Surfaces on lap or at desk, the vendor said.
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 two million hot spots worldwide for one year, and 200GB of free SkyDrive storage for two years, Microsoft said.
The Surface 2 is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor while having a battery life up to 10 hours for video playback, according to Microsoft. The device also features a 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display for rendering 1080p video and USB 3.0 ports for 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.
The Surface 2 will ship with Windows RT 8.1. The operating system will feature several new services including the new Xbox Music, which allows consumers to stream songs for free; an updated Video app and games from the Windows Store.
The Surface 2 is pre-loaded with Office Home & Student 2013 RT and Outlook 2013 RT for productivity.
The Surface 2 is available in 32GB and 64GB configurations; it will start at US$449.
Surface Pro 2
The Surface Pro 2 is the successor to Surface Pro and, like its predecessor, is a notebook replacement, capable of running all Windows' software including the full Microsoft Office suite, as well as apps from the Windows Store, the vendor said. The Surface Pro 2 is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor which, combined with other improvements, delivers increased performance and up to 75% longer battery life than the Surface Pro.
Starting at US$899, the Surface Pro 2 will be offered in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8GB of RAM.
Microsoft also announced seven new accessories:
The Touch Cover 2, which is thinner and lighter than the original Touch Cover, measuring 2.75mm thin, features backlit keys. It also features updated sensors that support a variety of gestures across the entire keyboard. The Touch Cover 2 has an estimated retail price of US$119.99.
The Type Cover 2 features the same design of the original Type Cover, but it is now backlit and will be available in Cyan, Magenta, Purple and Black in the coming months. The Type Cover 2 will have an estimated retail price of US$129.99.
The Power Cover delivers the same typing experience as with Type Cover while extending the battery life of the Surface 2, the Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 2 by up to 50%. The Power Cover will have an estimated retail price of US$199.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014.
The Docking Station for Surface Pro allows users to connect their Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 to desktop peripherals in a single step. While the Surface Pro or the 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.
The Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers connects magnetically to any Touch or Type Cover, letting users type from anywhere in the room using Bluetooth technology. The Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers will have an estimated retail price of US$59.99.
The Car Charger plugs into most cars' power or lighter ports and charges Surface without the need for an additional adapter. It also features an USB port to allow simultaneous charging of a phone or other device. The Car Charger will have an estimated retail price of US$49.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014.
A special-edition of Arc Touch Mouse Surface 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. The Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition will have an estimated retail price of US$69.99.
Microsoft Surface 2 tablet
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet