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Surface Pro 2: hands-on with Microsoft's new tablet powerhouse

Surface Pro 2: hands-on with Microsoft's new tablet powerhouse

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Surface Pro 2
Surface Pro 2

Microsoft just unveiled the Surface Pro 2 at an event in New York City. Like its predecessor, it's a 10.1-inch tablet with enough specs that can turn it into a laptop or even a PC replacement. This latest refresh doesn't change much visually, but under the VaporMG casing Microsoft has bumped the specifications to the latest Intel Haswell processor, extended the battery life, and generally improved what was already a fast tablet. The battery life on the Surface Pro 2 is said to be 75 percent better than Surface Pro, while graphical performance is up 50 percent and overall performance is 20 percent better. The Pro 2 will be available in 64GB and 128GB versions with 4GB of RAM, and 256GB and 512GB editions with 8GB of RAM. Microsoft is calling it the "most powerful, professional, and productive tablet ever made." We'll be sure to put those claims to the test in our full review.

One big change is a new two-step kickstand. Like the Surface 2, it works by simply pushing the kickstand further out to create a wider 55-degree angle for the device. It appears to offer a new solution for lap use, but only if you're really willing to use the onscreen keyboard as a Touch or Type Cover as the new angle could be difficult to use.

The Surface Pro 2 looks the same visually as last year's model

Picking up and holding the device in tablet mode still feels a little chunky and heavy, and the size and dimensions are unchanged from the original Surface Pro. Microsoft has also swapped the Windows logo at the rear of the Surface Pro 2 for just a Surface wordmark using the Segoe font. The Surface 2 also includes the new wordmark.

Performance in our brief time with the Pro 2 was good, but the Surface Pro never really felt slow or laggy to begin with, so it's hard to say how much better the new model is until we can test it in real-world situations. Same can be said for the battery life, though it is impressive that Microsoft says it's able to increase the stamina by so much while still maintaining the overall size and weight of the original. The screen remains the same at 1080p resolution, but Microsoft claims that the new display offers 46 percent more color accuracy, though it's hard to get a gauge of that without comparing the two side by side.

The Surface Pro 2 is a welcome improvement over the Surface Pro

The other half of the Surface Pro 2 story is the new power cover keyboard and docking station. The power cover offers a 30 watt-hour battery that gives the Pro 2 two and a half times the battery life of the original Surface Pro, according to Microsoft. The new Docking Station accomodates the Surface Pro 2 with the power cover attached, and offers three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, audio in and audio out, a Mini DisplayPort, and an ethernet jack. Microsoft says it can support external resolutions of up to 3840 x 2160 pixels. Microsoft is pushing the Surface Pro 2 as a complete replacement for your main computer, so the Docking Station helps get it there.

Surface Pro 2 hands on photos


Overall, the Surface Pro 2 is a welcome improvement over the Surface Pro — it's faster, lasts longer, and is more flexible than before. Paired with the updates coming in Windows 8.1, the Pro 2 might not only be the Windows tablet to get this holiday season, it is likely the laptop to beat, too.