Could second time be the charm for Microsoft’s Surface tablets? Hard to say at this point, but you have to admire them for trying, considering how much money Redmond’s lost so far with the first-gen slates.
And on paper, the follow-up to last year’s Surface RT, called simply yet confusingly Surface 2, looks like a hit in the making. Or, you know, a likelier hit than its predecessor at least.
Shipping with pre-loaded Windows RT 8.1 from October 22, the 10.6-incher starts at $449 (with 32 GB of on-board storage) and takes a number of design cues from both the first Surface RT and the two Surface Pros.
Yet the thing is at least a hair thinner and a couple of grams lighter than the tab it’s trying to replace, tipping the scales at 676 grams and measuring 8.9 mm in thickness. As far as hardware goes, almost everything’s changed, starting with the Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU, which has bowed down to the newer and zippier Tegra 4.
The screen ante has also been considerably upped (not a day too soon), with the Surface 2 boasting a much hotter and crisper 1,080p ClearType display, practically identical to the one on the Windows 8 Pro-powered version.
Meanwhile, Microsoft claims the battery life bar has been raised from 7-8 hours to 10 (unlikely though), the cameras pack 5 and 3.5 MP sensors (kudos for that!), whereas the connectivity options include USB 3.0, Wireless and Bluetooth 4.0.
The Surface 2, like the Pro, comes with an ergonomically improved built-in kickstand, plus it can be paired with the $120 Touch Cover 2, available on pre-order and shipping next month.