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Microsoft pumps up Surface tablets with faster chips, longer battery life

Mark Hachman | Sept. 24, 2013
Microsoft announced its next-generation Surface 2 tablet at an event in New York City and promised improvements in both power and battery life.

surface 2 tablet

Microsoft launched both of its next-generation Surface 2 tablets Monday, promising significant improvements in performance, graphics and battery life on both the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2.

As expected, Microsoft also announced seven peripherals, including a Power Cover and a new docking station, which gives the Surface the power of something close to a workstation PC, according to Panos Panay, the Microsoft vice president in charge of the company's tablet efforts.

PHOTO: CAITLIN MCGARRY. The new Surface Pro 2 will come with an Intel Haswell processor and will be able to process 6K raw video data.

"Surface has been one of the best products that Microsoft has ever built," Panay told attendees at a New York launch event, adding that Microsoft is making its tablets even better. "Reinventing the wheel is not the goal. Making it better is."

Surface will cost $449, and will be available in 32GB and 64GB configurations. Surface Pro 2 will come in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4GB of RAM as well as 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8GB of RAM, with prices starting at $899. A new Touch Cover--Touch Cover 2--will cost $120, and a new Type Cover will sell for $130.

Microsoft will take preorders on Tuesday, for delivery on Oct. 22.

Priced out of the market?
Microsoft was rightfully proud of the original Surface tablet when it first debuted in June 2012. Although reporters were only granted a few seconds--if that--with the tablet Monday, the obvious quality of the Surface's VaporMg casing coupled with the intrigue of Windows running on the ARM processor platform instantly made the Surface a desirable piece of hardware.

Microsoft's two covers-- the Touch Cover and the Type Cover--also took an innovation that Apple had pioneered and radically improved it. (Check out our reviews of the original Surface Pro and the Surface RT.)

surface tablet
The new Surface Pro 2 with docking station and Touch Cover.

A round of grumbling about the Surface soon, er, surfaced, however, when users began playing with the Windows RT operating system and started searching vainly for apps to use with it. Fans of the Surface RT aside, most were awaiting the release of the Surface Pro. When the tablet was released in January 2013, PCWorld dubbed the Surface Pro"the Surface the world had been waiting for." And it was--just not the whole world. In reality, just a very small part of it.

And then the warning bells started to ring: Microsoft wrote down the value of the Surface inventory by $900 million, part of a $150 discount applied to the Surface RT and $100 taken off the price of the Surface Pro that were made permanent. The Surface RT will remain, with a $349 price tag for 32GB and $449 for 64GB, while the Pro costs $799 for 64GB and $899 for 128GB.


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