Microsoft has announced a refresh of the company's Surface series today. The Surface 2 is the successor of the Surface RT device running Windows RT, and the Surface Pro 2 the successor of the Surface Pro.
I do not want to talk a lot about the Surface 2, but some things need to be addressed. It features a faster processor, longer battery life, a better camera, an updated screen and the new kickstand that all Surface 2 devices ship with. It starts at $449 and is of no interest to me, as it is running Windows RT.
Windows RT, for those of you who have not come in contact with Windows 8 yet, is that crippled version of the operating system that runs only apps and no legacy desktop software. So, if you want desktop software to run, you cannot really use it at all.
It may have its appeal for an audience that likes to get a tablet device that they can also do light Office editing and such with. The Surface 2 may be ideal for them as it ships with Microsoft Office RT included.
All major changes are under the hood or come in form of accessories. I liked the original Surface Pro but decided against it in the end because of the device's battery life. It was just too weak and would not take you through a whole work day without recharging.
The Surface Pro 2 comes with Intel's new Haswell chip that is less power hungry than the Surface Pro's processor. The new chip, and improvements to drivers and firmware have improved battery life of the device significantly. Sources suggest it can be anywhere from 60% to 75% more than what the original Surface Pro offered, but we have to wait until first independent benchmarks are posted before we know exactly how much better the battery life is.
There is one accessory that Microsoft introduced today that makes the Surface Pro 2 a great choice: The Docking Station for Surface Pro - it works with the old and new generation - provides you with better options to work with the device on a desk. Just dock it in and you can use keyboard and mouse that you connect via the docking station. It features a Mini DisplayPort video output, three USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port, an Ethernet port, and 3.5mm audio in and out.
It will come out in early 2014 unfortunately and not earlier than that.
Power Cover is the second new accessory for Surface. It offers the same typing experience as the Type Cover but includes an extra battery to get the most out of the device when you are using it in a mobile environment.
Surface accessory compatibility list
The pricing appears to have not been changed at all. Both Surface 2 devices start at the same price their successors were offered for, and the updated covers are also sold for the same price. It is interesting to note that the Surface Pro and the Touch Cover are currently on sale on the official website. You save $100 when you buy the Surface Pro, and another $40 when you buy the Touch Cover.
The new Surface video
Surface Pro 2 is not a cheap device. It starts at $899 and while you do get a great piece of hardware, it is not really that great in terms of internal storage. It starts at 64 Gigabyte which is not suitable for anything but light work on the system. If you consider that 20 or so Gigabytes are used for Windows 8 Pro, you end up with about 40 Gigabyte of storage for your programs and files. That's two cutting edge games, considering that you should leave 10% of the Solid State Drive free at all times.
Hard drive upgrades are available, up to 512 Gigabyte of space. This comes at a cost though, and it will likely not be cheap to upgrade. If the old Surface Pro is anything to go buy, the upgrade to 128 Gigabyte will cost another $100, and doubling that again may cost another $100. Add to that the Type Cover that you desperately need and you are quickly reaching the $1500 mark.
Is it worth that much money? I will definitely wait for benchmarks and first reviews to pop up on the Internet before I make a buying decision.
What about you? Are you interested in the Surface refresh at all?
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