Two new Microsoft surface tablets enter marketplace

November 6, 2013 

Microsoft released the Surface and Surface Pro last year to generally positive reviews, but the systems lacked what business users wanted. The Pro, for example, was overly costly, which turned many businesses off the device. Now, more than a year later, Microsoft has announced a second version of the Surface tablets.

In late September, Microsoft held an event where they announced a refresh of the Surface brand. Last year's Surface and Surface Pro have both received updates which could entice businesses users to look at the platform. Here's an overview of the important specs for both new devices.

The Surface 2

Last year's naming scheme was a little confusing, so this year Microsoft renamed the Surface RT the Surface 2. This is a tablet device that is meant to compete with the iPad and Android tablets.

Operating system: The Surface 2 will run Windows 8.1 RT, a more useable tablet-based version of Windows 8. The most popular change 8.1 RT will

introduce is full support for Outlook. The Surface 2 also comes pre-installed with a touch optimized version of Microsoft Office - Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Processor: This year's device will run a NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, one of the fastest and most powerful mobile processors currently available. It should be powerful enough to be able to handle pretty much every task with ease.

Screen size: With a 10.6 inch screen and a resolution of 1920 x 1080, this device has a full HD display that should look great.

Memory and storage: There are two versions of this tablet -- one with 32GB of storage and the other with 64GB. Users will also get 200 GB of SkyDrive storage for two years. The device also has 2GB of RAM which should be more than enough to cover all types of use. There is also a full USB 3.0 port, so you should be able to attach an external hard drive for even further storage.

Battery life: According to Microsoft, users should get around 10 hours of use out of the device, but this hasn't been tested yet. However, you can expect the device to last at least a full day at the office.

Price and availability: The device can currently be pre-ordered from the Windows Store now, and will start shipping October 25. The 32 GB version costs USD$449 while the 64 HB version costs $549.

The Surface 2 Pro

The Surface 2 Pro is Microsoft's high-end tablet, but really, it's more like an incredibly portable computer with a touch screen. This year's update has even further improved specs that make it more or less competitive with most low to mid-range laptops.

Operating system: The Surface 2 Pro will run on a full version of Windows 8.1 Pro. From what we can see, there will be no difference between this version and that found on laptops and desktops.

Processor: This year's device has seen a bump in processing speed and has a fourth generation i5 processor from Intel. This same type of processor is found in many laptops, which means there should be more than enough power to meet most, if not all of your business computing needs. It may struggle a bit with intense operations like graphics editing or gaming however.

Screen size: With a 10.6 inch screen and a resolution of 1920 x 1080, this device has a full HD display that should look great.

Memory and storage: There are four storage versions of the Surface Pro 2 - 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB. The 64 and 128 GB versions come with 4 GB of RAM while the 256 GB and 512 GB versions come with 8 GB of RAM. This means the device should be able to run almost any programs. Each device also comes with 200 GB of SkyDrive storage and a USB 3.0 port that you can plug an external hard drive into, so storage issues shouldn't be a problem.

Battery life: Battery life of this device has not been published, but you can expect it to be similar to most current laptops.

Price and availability: The Surface Pro 2 starts at $899 for the 64 GB version. The 128 GB version costs $999, the 256 GB version is $1,299 and the 512 GB version is $1,799. You can pre-order all four versions of the device from the Microsoft Store now, but the 256 HB and 512 GB versions won't ship until at least December 15. The 2 versions with the smaller hard drives will ship now.

David Spire, president and CEO of United Systems, holds multiple professional certifications. He can be reached at 941.721.6423 or by email at david.spire@uscomputergroup.com.

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