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Microsoft brings longer battery life, faster processors to Surface

Tim Greene | Sept. 24, 2013
Microsoft aims at corporate crowd with Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 overhaul.

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft today unveiled Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, the first major overhaul of its tablet/laptop lineup that now feature longer battery life and faster performance, both attractions for corporate customers.

The battery life of Surface Pro 2 has been boosted "so it lasts nearly a full workday" says Panos Panay, Microsoft vice president of Surface in the Surface blog. This is by virtue of a newer generation Intel Core i5 processor that improves battery life by 60%.

Augmented by Power Cover ($199.99) cordless use "lasts more than 10 hours," he says. Power Cover is an accessory cover/keyboard that contains an extended battery that charges while the device is working or when it's connected and the computer is turned off.

A second accessory makes the device suitable for business deployment within a corporate site. Docking Station ($199.99) for Surface Pro includes Mini DisplayPort video output so the docked Surface Pro can use an external monitor. It also has an Ethernet port so it can connect to a wired LAN, as well as three USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port and 3.5mm audio in and out ports.

Surface Pro 2 runs the full version of Windows 8.1 that can handle both traditional Windows business apps and so-called Modern apps customized for touch and enabled by the Windows Runtime API surface.

The Surface Pro 2 has a two-position kickstand, making the angle at which it supports the screen more suitable for using it as a laptop on an actual lap. The original Surface Pro kickstand propped up the device at just one position that wasn't better adjusted sitting on a desk.

Surface 2 is the upgraded version of Surface RT, the tablet based on an ARM processor and tricked out with its own, abbreviated version of Office. The most significant upgrade for businesses is the addition of Outlook RT, a version of the email, calendar and personal information manager application that comes with the full Office suite.

He claims Surface 2 is much faster than Surface RT and includes 72 graphics cores, a USB 3.0 port (up from USB 2) and double the Internet speed. The processor has been upgraded from an NVIDIA Tegra 3 to a Tegra 4, which boosts speed and prolongs battery life, Microsoft says.

It comes in a color other than black a metallic hue that is the natural color of the magnesium it is made of.

The device is also "slightly thinner and lighter", though the blog doesn't quantify that. It has a 3.5 megapixel front-facing camera, up from 1 megapixel in the Surface RT, and a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, up from 1 megapixel. They've been tuned for low-light environments to improve the quality of video calling.


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