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Microsoft refines its two-pronged approach to tablets

OK, let's be blunt; Microsoft’s first generation Surface tablets were a flop. The company took a $900 million charge on unsold inventory, and refurbished units have been dumped onto the market at rock bottom prices (pricing that some have said the units should have launched with in the first place).
 
However, the company is looking to right the wrongs of its first generation tablets with a reinvigorated second generation. Starting with Surface Pro 2, Microsoft has made the ClearType HD display is 46 percent more color accurate and added Dolby Pro 2 speakers for improved audio quality.
 
Under the hood, graphics performance has been improved by 50 percent, and overall performance has increased by 20 percent thanks to Haswell. In Microsoft's words, it's "faster than 95 percent of laptops today".

 

Surface 2 (L) and Surface Pro 2 (R)
 
The use of Intel's Haswell processor also means that Surface Pro 2 is quieter and cooler than the first generation. In addition, battery life has been improved by 75 percent.
 
Using the new Surface Power Cover (with its own integrated 30 Whr battery), battery life increases to 2.5 times that of the original Surface Pro.


Surface Pro 2 Docking Station

The kickstand has also been improved, and includes two positions this time around. The Surface Pro 2 will also be available with the Surface Docking Station. This will allow the tablet to output up to 3840x2160 to an external monitor and includes three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, and audio in/out.


Surface Type Cover 2
 
The new Type Cover 2 is available in pink, blue, purple, and black. The accessory itself is 1 mm thinner then the previous generation, making it nearly as thin as the first generation Touch Cover. And Microsoft was able to accomplish this while making the keys backlit.
 
Next up is Surface 2 (the RT moniker has been dropped), which is now available in a nice silver color. The device is thinner and lighter than the original Surface RT, and it's of course much faster thanks to its NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor. The Surface 2 now comes with a 1080p ClearType display and the onboard USB 2.0 port has been upgraded to USB 3.0. Surface 2 also gets a two-position kickstand and battery life has been increased by 25 percent.


Surface 2
 
Both the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 are built around Windows 8.1 (Windows 8.1 RT in the case of Surface 2).
 
When it comes to pricing, Surface 2 will start at $449 for the 32GB model. Surface Pro 2 starts at $899 and will be available in 64GB and 128GB versions (4GB of RAM) along with 256GB and 512GB versions (8GB of RAM).
 
Both tablets will launch on October 22.



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Still too expensive... and still a weird hybrid
By tayb on 9/23/2013 2:11:14 PM , Rating: 3
Let me just say that I think the Surface Pro is a great device. I use one at my office and I love it. It's great to use as a notebook and it's great to use the pen and jot down notes during meetings. I will probably get a Surface 2 for work use as well. Read between the lines: I like it but would not spend my own money on one.

Three flaws in my opinion:

It is a premium device and it deserves a premium price but Microsoft does not have the brand recognition to command a premium price. Microsoft is a Ford/GM in the device world and they are trying to launch a product with a Lexus price. It's just not happening. It's a great device but the market just isn't going to buy it. Only Apple seems capable of launching products with laughably high prices.

It's too expensive even for the quality. If it were $800 for 128GB and the battery cover it would probably fly off the shelves. Without those two add-ons the device is not even worth a mention and with them the price balloons to over $1,100. The vast majority in the tablet market is not interested in a $1,100 device.

The last issue is that while I do love the Surface Pro it is above average as a laptop and far below average as a tablet. It's not the best of any world. It does a reasonable job replacing my work machine but it is slower and has limited storage capacity. It does a terrible job replacing my iPad or Nexus 7 as the battery life is abysmal (and still is) and it's too big/weighs too much. Most people in this market are going to look at this device and conclude that it is cheaper and superior to buy a $300 tablet and $700 notebook.

I honestly just don't think Microsoft understands the tablet market. The first iteration of the Surface was an absolute embarrassing flop and they've essentially gone back to the drawing board and came back with the same product.




By troysavary on 9/23/2013 2:43:03 PM , Rating: 2
The Pro had terrible battery life. That was the biggest drawback. Never mind that you could only get them at the MS store for the first half of its life. I couldn't find them locally until about 2 months ago, and by then it would have been stupid to buy one with the refresh so near. MS screwed up terribly at marketing and logistics


By w8gaming on 9/23/2013 9:46:12 PM , Rating: 2
I hope Microsoft learn how to manage their logistics better if they want to be a "device company". Do you know how soon Samsung make Galaxy Note 3 available after initial announcement? Less than a month, available all over the world.


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