Microsoft has unveiled the Surface Pro 2, a new version of its flagship 10.6-inch Windows tablet. Though little has been changed externally on the updated device — it has the same size, weight, and black color scheme as its predecessor — Microsoft says that what's inside has changed quite a bit. "We improved the performance on this product by 20 percent," says Panos Panay, Microsoft's VP of Surface. "If you thought it was fast before, it is lightning fast now." Panay says that the tablet is now faster than 95 percent of laptops and that its graphics performance has increased by 50 percent. The updated tablet includes one of Intel's Core i5 Haswell processors, and Microsoft says that it'll see a 60 percent improvement in battery life over its predecessor.
The Surface Pro 2 is also trying to address one of the biggest complaints many had with the original tablet: that its built-in kickstand was difficult to use when propped on your lap. The new tablet's kickstand has a second position that can prop the device up at a 55 degree angle — in addition to the 22 degree angle present on its predecessor — adding a much more sloped position for it to stand in. Panay also says that the Surface Pro 2 will run quieter and cooler than the original Surface Pro, and that its 1080p display has 46 percent greater color accuracy.
"This is power."
"This is power," says Panay. "This thing's a beast." Panay also believes that Surface Pro 2 will deliver the "full power of a PC" but in the form factor of a tablet. The tablet will be shipping with Windows 8.1 on October 22nd — just a few days after the general release of Windows 8.1 itself. The Surface Pro 2's pricing begins at $899 and stretches up to $1,799, with configurations for 4GB of RAM with either 64 or 128GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM with either 256 or 512GB of storage. It'll be available for pre-order online beginning tomorrow at 8AM ET.
Everyone who purchases a Surface Pro 2 will be given access to several Microsoft services too, including one year of free Skype calling to landlines, as well as unlimited use of Skype-branded Wi-Fi hotspots. And for two years, users will get 200GB of SkyDrive storage as well.
Microsoft is also unveiling several new accessories for its Surface tablets. The Surface Pro line is getting a docking station that will transform the tablets into something closer to a traditional PC by providing USB ports for connecting a mouse and keyboard to, as well as a Mini DisplayPort for adding an external monitor. There’s also a new attachable keyboard called the Power Cover, which includes a built-in battery for extending the tablet’s daily longevity, in addition to a backlit keyboard called the Type Cover 2, among others.