Update: Microsoft next-gen Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets now available to pre-order

Update: Microsoft has opened up pre-orders for both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets. The Surface 2 is $449 outright, and the Surface Pro 2 is $899. Both ship by October 21st. Go forth here at Microsoft. ^IH

Microsoft has unwrapped its latest tablet duo, the business-centric Surface Pro 2 and consumer-focused Surface 2.

The latter tablet runs Nvidia’s Tegra 4 chip and offers three to four times the performance of last year’s model, even as it upgrades the 10.6-inch display to Full HD. The revamped body is also thinner and lighter and has an adjustable kickstand, addressing many of the issues with the Surface RT.

Of course, we will have to see whether the Surface 2, which runs an ARM-based version of Windows 8.1, appeals to consumers in a way last year’s Surface RT couldn’t, but the makings of a great tablet are certainly there. Windows 8.1 offers hundreds of usability improvements over Windows 8, but still lacks the app ecosystem the iPad and the legacy x86 support of the Surface Pro 2. Microsoft promises titles like Facebook and Flipboard, but there are still many, many others that are absent.

One critical addition to the on-board app portfolio is Outlook RT, the ARM-based version of the popular Office mail client. It will come pre-installed alongside Word, Powerpoint and Excel on the Surface 2.

The Surface Pro 2 offers a solution for business professionals, sporting a Haswell chip, higher RAM options, 75% better battery life and an improved Full HD ClearType display with 46% better colour production. This year, the Surface Pro 2 will be compatible with a new Power Cover that delivers a 30Whr battery inside the typical keyboard cover. Then there’s the thinner, more responsive Type Cover that comes in a variety of colours and new thinner Touch Cover that boasts 1092 sensors.

A Docking Station will also be available for the Surface Pro 2, which comes with 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB 1.0, a Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, Audio in and Audio Out, and can power two screens at once.

Both new Surfaces offer improved front and rear cameras, faster boot-up times and the same high-quality magnesium alloy bodies as last year’s models. Both models come with free international Skype calls for one year and 200GB of SkyDrive storage for two years.

The Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro will be coming to Canada on October 22nd and go up for pre-order tomorrow, September 24th. The Surface 2 starts at $449 USD and Surface Pro 2 starts at $899 USD, so they will likely be a few dollars more expensive up here.




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