Microsoft announces the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets

Microsoft Surface 2

Check out our review of the Microsoft Surface 2 tablet.

Microsoft has announced the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets. According to Microsoft’s Panos Panay, the second generation Surface tablets have been in development for nearly two years, and called the announcement a, “Big day for the Surface team in Redmond.”

The event started with an in-depth look at the Surface Pro 2.Describing it as, “faster than 95 percent of laptops today,” the Surface Pro 2 has been given a 20 percent speed increase, and a 50 percent graphics boost over the original model, all thanks to a new Intel Haswell processor. Microsoft also claims the chip will see a 75 percent increase in battery life. On the rear of the tablet, where the Microsoft logo has been replaced by the word, “Surface,” the kickstand has been given an extra angle, so it now offers two.

Moving on to the Surface 2 (note the removal of the RT branding) Panay said the next-generation slate is “The revamp people needed.” It’s lighter and faster than before and comes with a 1080p ClearType resolution screen, and will also be available in a fetching silver/white color scheme. Like the Pro 2, the processor speed has been increased, and could run up to four times faster than the Surface RT.

The USB ports have been upgraded to USB 3.0, the two-stage kickstand from the Pro 2 is present, and a stronger battery to give 25 percent more battery life than before. It’ll come with Windows RT 8.1 installed, providing access to the 100,000 apps available through the Windows Store, a big step up from the 10,000 when the Surface RT was announced. Microsoft Office comes pre-installed on the tablet, complete with the introduction of Outlook RT, and it was confirmed Flipboard and Facebook apps would be coming soon.

As was hinted at in the rumors prior to launch, Microsoft has introduced a range of accessories compatible with its new tablets. First up is the Power Cover, which incorporates a keyboard and an extended battery, providing more than twice the available standby time. Joining the Power Cover is the Surface Docking Station, equipping the docked tablet with three USB ports, an Ethernet port, and the ability to power two monitors.

So when can you get your hands on a new Surface tablet? Very soon, as Microsoft will put them up for pre-order on September 24 at 8am EDT through its online store, its Microsoft retail stores, and some third-party stockists. The Surface 2 starts at $450 for the 32GB model, while the Surface Pro 2 costs $900 for the 64GB version. The release date is October 22 in 22 markets, including America, Australia, the UK, Canada, France, and Germany.

The event is ongoing, and we’ll bring you more on the new Surface tablets as they’re revealed.