Microsoft continues its Windows RT development with the unveiling of the Surface 2, more powerful than its predecessor and still half the price of the Pro edition.
Microsoft has been working on its second generation of Surface for about 18 months and the results were unveiled today with two new flagship devices and seven new accessories. While the Surface Pro 2 targets the professional power user, the Surface 2 represents an upgrade to the lower-cost Surface RT and comes running Windows RT 8.1.
The new operating system is better for multi-tasking, letting users run Office programmes in the background while they take a break for a game of Halo: Spartan Assault.
In terms of apps, there are much more available now than when the original Surface RT launched with around 100,000 available through the Windows Store and key players like Flipboard and Facebook getting ready to join them.
Lighter and thinner than its predecessor, the Surface 2 even comes in a new silver option. The 10.6-inch ClearType display offers full-HD 1080p picture and CPU speed has been increased.
Both cameras have been upgraded with a 5MP rear camera and 3.5MP front-facing camera, both capable of capturing 1080p video and featuring improved low-light performance.
Powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, the Surface 2 offers up to 10 hours’ video playback. It has the same new dual angle kickstand built into the Surface Pro 2 and its USB port has been upgraded to 3.0.
As well as a new Type Cover, Microsoft had an enhanced Touch Cover up its sleeve. The backlit Touch Cover 2 has 1,092 sensors to the Touch Cover’s 80, offering improved accuracy and predictive typing. It’s also more rigid, to better support laptop use, and gestures are supported across the entire keyboard.
At just 2.75mm thick, the Touch Cover 2 is thinner than the original and so is the Surface 2, meaning everything is slimmer even when the two are put together.
Surface Remix Project
Another special Surface cover revealed today is the Surface Remix Project. This touch cover has been built specifically for remixing music with a 4×4 number panel, playback and volume controls and level adjusters. It’s as thin as the original Touch Cover and lets users remix music using a special app from Microsoft that works in tandem with Xbox Music. Touch sensitivity plays a role here as sounds can be made louder depending on pressure.
Pricing and availability
The Surface Remix Project won’t be available until 22 October, alongside the release of the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. Pre-orders for the Surface 2 start 24 September with the same freebies offered with the Surface Pro 2: free Skype calls to landlines in over 60 countries for one year, unlimited Skype Wi-Fi at more than 2m hot spots worldwide for one year, and 200GB SkyDrive storage for two years.
Priced from €439, Surface 2 will be available in 32GB and 64GB versions, while the Touch Cover 2 (compatible with both devices) is expected to retail at €125.
Other accessories unveiled today include a wireless adapter that connects magnetically to the Touch or Type Cover and connects to the device using Bluetooth so you can type from anywhere in the room. This product has so far only been announced for the US and Canada, however.
Amended 24 September 2013, 12.51pm: This article has been amended to specify that Halo: Spartan Assault is playable on Windows RT.