How does the Surface 2 stack up against the Surface RT?

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Microsoft doesn’t have to prove itself as a computing giant, but too many of its computers sit stationary. It would like to have people more people with Microsoft-made devices in their pockets and purses and backpacks. The company’s latest attempt to put a dent in the tablet market came today with the announcement of the Surface 2. In the continuing confusing fashion of naming things, the Surface 2 is the successor to the Surface RT and will run Windows RT 8.1 OS. Once you set aside trying to figure out the difference between RT 8.1 and regular Windows 8.1, you’ll see a pretty impressive tablet. How well does it compare to its predecessor? We find out with a spec showdown.


Surface RT


Surface 2 

Size 274.5 x 171.9 x 9.38 (mm) 274 x 171 x 8.9 (mm)
Weight 680g 680g
Screen 10.6-inch ClearType HD 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD
Resolution 1366×768 pixels 1920×1080 pixels
OS Windows RT Windows RT 8.1
Storage 32GB 32/64GB
SD Card Slot Yes Yes 
Other Ports USB 2.0, HD video out USB 3.0, HD video out 
Processor Quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3  Quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4
Connectivity Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
Camera Front 1.2MP, Rear 1.2MP Front 3.5MP, Rear 5MP
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.0 Yes, version 4.0
Battery 31.5Wh (8 hours of use) 10 hours of use
Charger Micro USB Micro USB
Marketplace Windows Store Windows Store 
Price $350+ $450

It’s clear that the Surface 2 is an upgrade over the Surface RT. It’s thinner and faster than the original RT. With the upgrade to the Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, users of the Surface 2 can expect some pretty impressive speeds out of the tablet. Microsoft is promising a significant jump in speed and performance – about 60 percent faster CPU – and judging by the spec sheet, we don’t have too much of a reason to question them. The battery also gets a boost, as does the display which makes a welcome move into full 1080p HD. Cameras on both the front and the back of the Surface 2 outdo the ones on the Surface RT and you might get better use out of both with the new kickstand that allows you to position your device in new ways.

Something you won’t see in the numbers is the incentive package being offered to potential Surface 2 owners. The new tablet will come with Office 2013 RT applications, free international and Wi-Fi calling on Skype, and 2 years of 200GB SkyDrive storage. These are nice bonuses if you were already going to buy a Microsoft tablet and makes it appealing to those that love productivity options. 

It’s worth noting Microsoft doesn’t appear to be giving up on the RT, as it will keep the device available for $350, the same price tag the device has carried since getting re-priced back in July. It now serves as more of an entry level version of the Surface tablet family and will be compatible with the new Touch and Type covers also unveiled today. With an upgrade to Windows 8.1 RT and a new cover, current RT owners might be able to justify sitting out the opportunity to move to the Surface 2. But for people just entering the Surface tablet system, it will be worth the extra $100 to go with the new Surface 2, available on October 22, 2013.