Microsoft Surface 2 Windows RT tablet (preview)

The Surface 2 boasts a full HD screen, features updated internals and has a new two-stage kickstand

Microsoft Surface 2
  • Microsoft Surface 2
  • Microsoft Surface 2
  • Microsoft Surface 2
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Microsoft Office 2013 RT included
  • Full HD screen
  • Attractive, sturdy build
  • Dual-position kickstand
  • Optional Touch and Type Cover keyboards are brilliant

Cons

  • App range remains limited compared to iOS or Android
  • Internet Explorer the only web browser available
  • Not as stable on the lap as a real laptop

Bottom Line

A top-quality productivity tool that – despite running RT as opposed to full-blown Windows 8 – could replace a full-blown laptop for many professionals and students.

Would you buy this?

Microsoft has announced the second generation of its Surface RT tablet, simply called the Surface 2. It now boasts a full HD screen, features updated internals, and has a new two-stage kickstand aimed to make it easier to use on your lap.

The biggest upgrade on the Surface 2 tablet is its new 1080p display. With a resolution of 1920x1080, it's a significant upgrade over the original Surface RT's 1366x768 display. Microsoft says the panel itself is optically bonded to the surface of the screen, aiming to improve sunlight legibility outdoors. The 10.6in, 1080p screen should also mean a significant improvement in displaying crisp and clear text, a major criticism of the original Surface.

The Surface 2 looks very similar to the original model in terms of design. Microsoft says that its goal was not to "reinvent the wheel", but simply make the tablet better. The biggest design change is a new two-stage kickstand, which can be set at two different angles. The new angle, pushed back further than the original one, makes it easier to use the Surface 2 on your lap, Microsoft says. Despite the improvements and additions, the Surface 2 is slightly thinner and lighter than its predecessor.

Microsoft says it didn't try to "reinvent the wheel" with the Surface 2, only improve it.
Microsoft says it didn't try to "reinvent the wheel" with the Surface 2, only improve it.

The Surface 2 now comes in a new silver colour variant. The front of the tablet retains its traditional black bezel, but silver trim is used around the rest of the device, including the back. Interestingly, Microsoft has replaced the Windows logo on the back of the tablet with Surface branding.

The Surface 2 two retains a full-size USB port, but it has been upgraded to USB 3.0 for faster file transfers with a compatible device. Microsoft has also improved the front facing camera (3.5-megapixels) and the rear facing camera (5-megapixels): both are able to capture full HD 1080p video. Unfortunately, the Surface 2 is only available in Wi-Fi models, so there's no 4G option available.

The Microsoft Surface 2 tablet is powered by a 1.7GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, has 4GB of RAM and comes with 32GB or 64GB of internal memory. There is also a concealed microSD card slot, so users can add more storage to the unit. Microsoft says the device has improved battery life, now offering up to 10 hours of video playback.

The Surface 2 retains a very similar design to its predecessor, but comes in a new silver colour variant.
The Surface 2 retains a very similar design to its predecessor, but comes in a new silver colour variant.

The Surface 2 comes pre-loaded with the Windows RT 8.1 operating system and includes a full version of Microsoft Office 2013 RT. Microsoft will also offer free Skype calling to landlines in more than 60 countries for one year, unlimited Skype Wi-Fi for one year, and 200GB of free SkyDrive storage for two years with any new Surface 2 purchase.

Microsoft has also unveiled a range of new accessories for the Surface 2 tablet. A redesigned Touch Cover 2 ($139.99) is thinner and lighter than the original Touch Cover and now has backlit keys and updated sensors. The Type Cover 2 ($149.99) also has backlit keys, and Microsoft says it is quieter when striking keys. It will be available in Cyan, Magenta, Purple and Black variants.

Microsoft will also sell a car Charger with USB ($59.99) and a power cover that extends the battery life of the Surface 2 by up to 50 per cent.

The new Type Cover 2 is thinner than the original and now has backlit keys.
The new Type Cover 2 is thinner than the original and now has backlit keys.

The Microsoft Surface 2 tablet will be available in 32GB and 64GB models and will sell for $529 and $639 in Australia, respectively. The Surface 2 and new Surface accessories will be available to purchase from Tuesday, 22 October through Microsoft's online store and though Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi retail stores and other authorised Surface commercial resellers.

A promotional video of the Microsoft Surface 2 can be viewed below.

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