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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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RE: Microsoft you cannot charge premium prices!
By augiem on 9/23/2013 4:08:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are correct... And yet, no-one is buying Surfaces in any significant #'s. MS needs to concentrate on why that is.


You guys fail to bring up the fact that the Surface RT was completely underpowered and underspec'd for the price they launched it at. Hell, it's underpowered and underspec'd even at the new clearance price... A new Nexus 7 gives you a higher res screen and faster CPU/GPU than a current RT for more than $100 less.

Microsoft seems to be FINALLY getting it. The new RT is actually competitive with a Tegra 4 and a 1080 screen and is still priced $50 lower than an iPad. I'm really pleasantly surprised to see they've finally taken the blinders off. Now I have a tiny bit of hope that they'll do the same with their Windows phones at some point and we can get the real competition off the ground at long last.

MS's problem in the last gen wasn't that they charged too much. It was the fact that the value per $ was horrible. Things are looking up.


RE: Microsoft you cannot charge premium prices!
By retrospooty on 9/23/2013 4:17:25 PM , Rating: 2
". A new Nexus 7 gives you a higher res screen and faster CPU/GPU than a current RT for more than $100 less."

You are right there...

"Microsoft seems to be FINALLY getting it. The new RT is actually competitive with a Tegra 4 and a 1080 screen and is still priced $50 lower than an iPad."

See what you said above. For $200 less, the Nexus 7 gives you a better screen. The Tegra 4 does outpace the SDpro in the NExus 7, but not the SD800. Tegra 4 runs hot, and isnt as fast as the latest Qualcom chips. Still prices way too high.

The other part is specs aside, people just don't seem to want it.


RE: Microsoft you cannot charge premium prices!
By troysavary on 9/23/2013 5:05:17 PM , Rating: 2
To be 200 less, you need to get the 8 GB Nexus. Garbage.


RE: Microsoft you cannot charge premium prices!
By retrospooty on 9/23/2013 5:16:25 PM , Rating: 2
Really? Your math is as bad as the points you are trying to make...

"Surface 2 will start at $449 for the 32GB model"

My Nexus 7(2013)32mb was $249 although full MSRP is $269... So $180 cheaper. But again, the main thing is people actually want it.


By Mint on 9/24/2013 8:57:05 AM , Rating: 2
This is a 10.6" tablet, not a 7/8". It's competing with the regular iPad, Nexus 10, Galaxy Tab 10.1, etc. None of those are $200 less than the Surface 2.

There are rumors of a Surface Mini, but I doubt MS cares about that market because there's no money to be made there.


RE: Microsoft you cannot charge premium prices!
By augiem on 9/23/2013 6:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
Granted, it's not Nexus 7 competitive, but at least its iPad competitive this time around. Then again, nothing is Nexus 7 competitive, really.

It is likely more expensive to produce than the Nexus 7, is bigger (whether that is good or bad is debatable), has a faster cpu/gpu, so it's probably one rung up in class vs Nexus 7. In fact, it's much more in line with the Nexus 10 which is still $499 for a 32gb from Google. Yes, bang for the buck, Nexus 7 wins hands down. But Surface 2 it definitely not nearly the dog of a deal the last RT was.


RE: Microsoft you cannot charge premium prices!
By EnzoFX on 9/24/2013 2:34:20 PM , Rating: 2
Except a N10 can be had for $350. Over $400 and there's no point at all in switching to this new RT.


By augiem on 9/24/2013 3:10:13 PM , Rating: 2
Good to know the N10 is available that cheaply. But N10 is slow with underpowered GPU for its screen res. The SoC and the SD card slot are two big reasons I'd prefer RT2 over N10 even at $90 more. Now apps, that's another story...


By TheJian on 9/23/2013 11:07:59 PM , Rating: 2
Tegra 4 is running in a xiaomi phone coming shortly (Hugo Barra from Google now works there...hmmm). Not sure what you mean by saying they are hot. That would not be possible at 1.8ghz in a phone correct?...LOL. Shield is comfortable in your hands for hours at 1.9ghz and other than toshiba's build quality on their write device, I see no issues at Asus, HP etc. I've seen mi3 score 29000+, which is reasonable considering shield scores 41K in Antutu and the ref tablet 1.9ghz scored 36k (just above S800 scores I've seen). They have another month to optimize also.

Also it is FASTER than S800 in CPU, you can debate the gpu depending on the job being done (can't wait to see them head to head in actual games). But the CPU side is owned by A15's.

Links showing S800 scores better than T4 in cpu. Since xiaomi mi3 is coming with BOTH chips T4 and S800 shortly this will be put to rest soon. I don't see any qualcomm optimized games or a website like tegrazone dedicated to gaming either. So you can glbench etc all you want, but I'll take the chip that is made by a company dedicated to gaming for 20yrs and showing they're planning to do the same to mobile. The number of optimized games specifically with tegra features is growing. Check out the tegrazone site. With kepler mobile coming Q1 they will finally have desktop optimizations floating directly to their socs (game devs know the hardware inside out already for over 2yrs). That will continue for ages. Good luck to QCom now that everyone has modems coming. Modems made them special. Next year GAMES will make you special, and without them you'll start to lose no matter who you are. The same happened to rimm etc. They had Enterprise email which made them special, then everyone got Exchange. Suddenly you're not special and tanking.

Not quite sure why Apple hasn't figured this out and announced a 5Bil gaming plan (like 200x5mil AAA games just for IOS per year for 5yrs...LOL). Torchlights were made for 2mil or so, and games like Witcher 1 & 2 were 7mil each. You could easily avg 5mil or so and pump out 1000 awesome games for IOS (remember apple can spend 5B over 5yrs and just laugh about it even as a total loss which it obviously wouldn't be). I hope NV or google announces something like this soon also (1B or whatever dedicated to android games output to your TV etc for gamepad use). Any of these guys (heck qcom also) can take out consoles by announcing these intentions thus drawing even MORE devs away from planning anything for next gen consoles. They are already running if you look at 2800 devs from GDC 2013 USA/EU.

It's going to happen anyway, but you might as well RUN to consoles deaths full bore ;) If you can keep them from selling 10mil each the first year they're screwed. Apple, Amazon, Google etc all have boxes coming to compete with consoles (all 3 rumored to be higher end) so not sure why there hasn't been a huge game announcement yet to slow up console excitement. Maybe they'll announce all that in Nov a day before Xbox1/ps4 launches...LOL.


RE: Microsoft you cannot charge premium prices!
By augiem on 9/23/2013 6:38:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
$50 lower than an iPad


Oops, didn't even realize. 16GB ipad is $499, 32 is $599. 32GB Surface 2 is $449. So $150 less than equivalent iPad. Hmm, not too shabby.


RE: Microsoft you cannot charge premium prices!
By mellomonk on 9/24/2013 12:07:29 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Oops, didn't even realize. 16GB ipad is $499, 32 is $599. 32GB Surface 2 is $449. So $150 less than equivalent iPad. Hmm, not too shabby.


Actually, it is not quite that easy of a comparison. The Win R/T install is north of 10Gb! That is why they do not make a 16Gb version, there wouldn't be much usable space. A 16Gb iPad formats out to around 14 Gb usable after the OS. A 32Gb Surface has roughly 20Gb usable after it's Win RT and default Office install.


By augiem on 9/24/2013 3:13:19 PM , Rating: 2
Valid point. That's why its good they included an SD card slot. Pop a 64GB card in there for $60 and you've got a 80GB+ tablet after the OS for just over $500.


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