Microsoft has unveiled recently the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, new versions of the company’s 10.6-inch Windows tablets which now come with faster processors, updated OS, refined design, and a whole new line of accessories.
The Windows 8.1 RT-based Surface 2 with the Nvidia Tegra 4 computing platform and full Win 8.1-based Surface Pro 2 with the 4th Generation Intel Haswell i5 CPU are now more lap-friendly, because they have two positions of their kickstands. Besides the old 22-degree angle, there’s also a 55-degree position of the kickstand, which is more suitable for use on your lap. An important update on the Surface 2 versus the original Surface RT is the screen resolution bump from 1366×768 to 1920×1080 pixels, so both new devices are Full HD.
On the first sight, the Surface 2 and 2 Pro are so similar, but if you take a look at the specs sheets below you’ll notice that they have differences in almost all aspects. They share the same screen size and resolution, kickstand, and selection of ports, slots, connectivity features, and sensors. All other points in the specs lists have at least some difference.
|Microsoft Surface 2||Microsoft Surface Pro 2|
|OS||Windows 8.1 RT||“Full” Windows 8 Pro 64-bit|
|Microsoft Office suite||Office Home & Student 2013 RT||None included|
|Display Resolution||1920×1080 pixels|
|On-Screen Input||5-point multi-touch||10-point multi-touch, active digitizer (stylus pen included)|
|Processor and Graphics||Nvidia Tegra 4 Platform 1.7GHz||4th Generation Intel Core i5-4200U 1.6GHz-2.6GHz dual-core
with Intel HD 4400 IGP
|RAM||2GB||4GB or 8GB|
|Storage||32GB or 64GB||64GB or 128GB with 4GB RAM; 256GB or 512GB with 8GB RAM|
|Battery||Up to 10 hours run time; 7-15 days idle life, charges in 2-4
|Info not provided, 7-15 days idle life,
charges in 2-4 hours
|Cameras||3.5MP front, 5MP back, both supporting 1080p video recording||Unknown sensors, both support 720p|
|Ports and Slots||USB 3.0 (full-size), mini DisplayPort, microSD card reader, Cover port|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0|
|Sensors||Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer|
|Dimensions||10.81 x 6.81 x 0.35 inches||10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches|
|Weight||1.49 pounds||2 pounds|
|Chassis||VaporMG in Magnesium (gray) color||VaporMG in Dark Titanium (black)|
|Keyboards and Docks (separately sold)||Type Cover, Touch Cover, Power Cover||Type Cover, Touch Cover, Power Cover, Docking Station|
The most serious difference is the CPU / OS selection. The ARM architecture-based Nvidia Tegra 4 with Windows 8.1 RT on the cheaper Surface 2 provides a longer battery life, but there’s a lack of support for the classic x86 Windows programs, so you’re limited to Metro-style tablet-centric apps. In addition, the device runs slower than the Surface Pro 2 with the full-blown laptop-use x86 architecture-based i5-4200U CPU and full x86 Windows 8.1 Pro Edition. Another downside of the cheaper Surface 2 is smaller amount of RAM, affecting your ability to normally run large number of apps simultaneously.
Although the Pro is much more expensive with prices ranging from $899 to $1,799 versus $499-$549, it doesn’t mean it’s undoubtedly better.
Deliberately or not, Microsoft hasn’t officially provided info on the battery life for the Surface 2 Pro. Despite power efficiency optimizations on the newly included 4th Gen Intel Core Haswell CPU, it is clear that battery life will be shorter than on the Nvidia Tegra 4 / RT version which is claimed to provide up to 10 hours of video playback on a single charge. That’s because the Intel i5-4200U consumes 15 Watts, while the Tegra 4 consumes less than 10W (roughly 4-8W according to some sources). Unofficially, the Pro edition could be able to deliver “five hours under heavy gaming”, but reviews eventually confirming that are not available yet. A novelty regarding the battery life on both the standard and Pro Surface is addition of the Power Cover keyboard accessory which has a built-in battery for doubling the battery life of the devices.
Also, the more expensive version is a tad thicker and noticeably heavier. Plus, Microsoft hasn’t upgraded the cameras, so they still support up to 720p video recording resolutions, while the Surface 2 went full HD.
Back to the positive sides of the Pro 2, it’s worth noting that the screen on it is more flexible when it comes to input options. It has 10-point instead of 5-point finger touch support and comes with active digitizer, so you can take notes and draw with the included Pen.
The Pro variant will be more desktop-friendly, because Microsoft will make a docking station exclusively for it. The station will have four USB connectors, one of the video-out ports for external monitors, and an Ethernet LAN jack.
On the software side, the Surface 2 Pro is indeed better because of the aforementioned more robust Windows applications support as well as better compatibility with enterprise environments, but Microsoft tries to justify that advantage over the Surface 2 by including a free Office suite on the former. Out of the box, you get free of charge a copy of touch-optimized Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 RT including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook apps.
More facts about the comparison will be known as soon as the reviews of the devices get published. They’re expected to hit the web after October 22nd, when the new tablets arrive on the store shelves. For now, you can pre-order them via the official Microsoft Store.