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What we need to see in a Surface 2 tablet

Brad Chacos | Sept. 11, 2013
Deep discounts are helping push the first Surface generation off the shelves, but the next generation's going to have to do better than that.

The Surface Pro 2 seems like a natural fit for Intel's Haswell Core processors, which have done wonders for the MacBook Air's endurance.

Rumors indeed suggest the Surface Pro 2 is getting a Haswell processor, which reportedly adds 2 extra hours to the original version's 5-hour endurance. Seven hours of battery life still isn't a full day, but it's close. A "Battery Cover" keyboard accessory—first hinted at by Surface honcho Panos Panay in a February Reddit AMA—could supply even more juice.

Beyond the processor switch and a new 8GB RAM option, early scuttlebutt suggests the Surface Pro's components will remain largely unchanged. Hopefully that stagnation doesn't include the device's thickness and weight. A svelte, long-lasting Surface Pro would be scads more appealing than the current physical dimensions.

No other hardware elements are really clamoring to be changed on the Surface Pro—though it'd be nice if the included stylus were clad in magnesium instead of plain old plastic.

Surface RT hardware
The original Surface RT, while still draped in the same design principles of the Surface Pro, landed on the opposite end of the performance spectrum. Its all-day endurance made the tablet an Office-wielding force to be reckoned with (for some people), but the Nvidia Tegra 3 processor inside made performance feel pokey after a few months of use.

Already thin and trim, the Surface RT 2—or simply "Surface 2," if the early rumors about the slate's dropping the toxic "RT" moniker are correct—mainly needs a shot in the arm, hardware-wise. The tablet has been linked to both Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processor and Nvidia's Tegra 4, either of which would provide plenty of pep. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Tegra 4 in the Wi-Fi version and a Snapdragon 800 in a LTE-equipped model, as the Surface RT 2 is just begging for a mobile data connection.

The Surface RT 2 needs some skin-deep beauty, too, and by that I mean a better display. The original Surface RT's 10.6-inch, 1366-by-768-pixel display is far inferior even to the screens on the $200 Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD. Make it full 1080p to match the Surface Pro, please. (If the resolution were much higher than that, it'd be difficult to use the desktop.)

Both models: more refined software
Expect both Surface slates to be released in late October, packing Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 smoothes over Windows 8's roughest edges and is a lesson in course correction, but even that isn't enough to make Windows 8 truly compelling. Windows RT should ditch the desktop entirely, while the Surface Pro 2 should intelligently default to either the desktop or the Modern UI, depending on whether you've attached your slate to an external monitor. And could we get some compelling Windows Store apps, please?


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