On Monday, September 2nd, Microsoft announced that the Surface family of tablets is growing. Two new Surface models — Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 — in addition to some new Surface accessories, will be available at Microsoft retail stores, http://www.MicrosoftStore.com and select third-party retailers and commercial resellers in 22 initial markets on Oct. 22 (China in early November).
Microsoft claims the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will each benefit from significant updates, including improvements in processing power and battery life. The display should also improve as well as the camera resolution. Also, the Kickstand now has two settings, so it’s more comfortable to use the Surface at a desk. Microsoft says the two settings will make the Surface more comfortable to use in your lap, but personally I can’t see how that could be. I’ve tried using the Surface with the Kickstand extended in my lap, the reason it doesn’t work has a lot more to do with discomfort than the lack of a second viewing angle.
To help people get the most out of Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, customers purchasing either device will receive free Skype calling to landlines in more than 60 countries for one year, unlimitedSkype WiFi on their Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 at more than 2 million hot spots worldwide for one year, and 200 GB of free SkyDrive storage for two years.
Surface 2 is a good table for personal use. It’s thinner, lighter and cheaper than the Surface Pro. If what you need is a table you can use as an e-Reader, email checker, web browser and occasional movie viewer the Surface 2 is a good choice. It is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, making most apps run faster and smoother and increasing battery life to up to 10 hours for video playback. The 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display now renders 1080p video for TV shows and movies, and its full-size USB port has been upgraded to USB 3.0 for up to four times faster file transfers. Camera resolution has also increased, with a 3.5-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera, both capable of capturing 1080p video and featuring improved low-light performance, making face-to-face conversations crisp and clear.
Surface 2 will ship with Windows RT 8.1, bringing improvements in key areas such as personalization, search, multitasking, built-in apps, the Windows Store experience and cloud connectivity.
Surface 2 is available in 32GB and 64GB configurations; it will start at $449.
Surface Pro 2
Surface Pro 2 is the successor to Surface Pro and, like its predecessor, is a true laptop replacement, capable of running virtually all your Windows software including the full Microsoft Office suite, as well as apps from the Windows Store. Surface Pro 2 offers the portability and simplicity of a tablet when you want it and the power and flexibility of a laptop when you need it. It is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor which, combined with other improvements, delivers increased performance and up to 75 percent longer battery life than Surface Pro.
Starting at $899, Surface Pro 2 will be offered in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4 GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8 GB of RAM.
Full specs are available at http://www.Surface.com/pre-order.
If you’re interested in the new Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2, either can be pre-ordered starting at 8 a.m. EDT on Sept. 24, 2013, at http://www.MicrosoftStore.com, Microsoft Stores, and Best Buy in the U.S. and Canada, as well as select retailers in most Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 launch markets.
Microsoft’s announcement also included information about seven new accessories designed to make the Surface more flexible, more portable and more productive.
Touch Cover 2
Thinner and lighter than the original Touch Cover, measuring only 2.75 mm thin, Touch Cover 2 features backlit keys for even better readability. Touch Cover 2 is more rigid, registers keystrokes with greater accuracy and features updated sensors that support a variety of gestures across the entire keyboard. Touch Cover 2 has an estimated retail price of $119.99. It will be available for pre-order on Sept. 24 in all markets where Surface devices are available for pre-order.
Type Cover 2
Type Cover 2 features the same super-thin, lightweight design of the original Type Cover, but it’s now backlit and will be available in Cyan, Magenta, Purple and Black in the coming months. It’s also more rigid, providing a better lap-typing experience, and is designed to be noticeably quieter when striking keys. Type Cover 2 will have an estimated retail price of $129.99. It will be available for pre-order on Sept. 24 in all markets where Surface devices are available for pre-order.
Docking Station for Surface Pro
The Docking Station for Surface Pro lets you quickly connect Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 to desktop PC peripherals in a single step, taking you from laptop to desktop in an instant. While Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 is docked, it can connect with an external monitor, Ethernet, speakers and power supply. PC peripherals connect via its one USB 3.0 port and three USB 2.0 ports. The Docking Station for Surface Pro will have an estimated retail price of $199.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014.
Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers
The Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers connects magnetically to any Touch or Type Cover, letting you type from anywhere in the room using Bluetooth technology, so it is even easier to connect Surface to a TV or monitor and type from another location, such as the couch. Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers will have an estimated retail price of $59.99. It will be available for pre-order in the U.S. and Canada beginning Sept. 24.
Car Charger with USB
Car Charger plugs into most cars’ power or lighter ports and charges Surface without the need for an additional adapter. It also features a USB port to allow simultaneous charging of a phone or other device. Car Charger will have an estimated retail price of $49.99 and has a projected release date of early 2014.
 System software uses significant storage space. Available storage is subject to change based on system software updates and apps usage. 1 GB = 1 billion bytes. See Surface.com/storage for more details. Initial quantities of Surface Pro 2 with 512 GB will be limited.
 Office sold separately.
 The Black and Purple Type Cover 2 will be available for pre-order. Other colors will be available in the coming months.
 Adapter required; sold separately.