Both Microsoft’s Surface 2 (RT) and Surface Pro 2 (Core i5) will be available starting October 22 with new processors. The original Surface RT, using a Tegra 3, has been upgraded to a Tegra 4. The Surface Pro has been upgraded to a Haswell i5 Processor and Windows 8.1. Pre-orders begin Sept. 24, according to Microsoft.
The updated RT tablet features a slightly slimmer body, a 1.7GHz Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, and a higher-resolution screen than the original Surface. Both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 now share the same 10 inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixel screen. The Surface Pro 2 can also be paired with Microsoft’s new Power Cover for 2.5x its standalone battery life or the Type Cover 2, which is now 1mm thinner and backlit, although the keyboard remains an expensive add-on.
The Surface 2, with Windows RT, starts at $449, but Microsoft will continue selling the original Surface RT for $349.
Microsoft has reintroduced the Start button in Windows 8.1. Clicking on it brings up the Start screen, where you can type a few letters to find and open apps. While you still don’t get the exact same pop-up menu you had in Windows 7, Microsoft has added the ability to right-click the new Start button to get to common Control Panel settings. You can boot directly to the desktop from within the OS.
The camera app has been improved in Windows 8.1. You get a full set of photo-editing tools to enhance color, adjust brightness and contrast, and red-eye.
The Surface Remix Project, is a modified Touch Cover that transforms the tablet into a Garage Band-style DJ app. It works with the Surface 2, the original Surface Pro, and Surface Pro 2.
Pro 2 starts at $899, but the RAM can be upgraded from 4GB to 8GB, and the internal storage can be upgraded up to a 512GB solid-state drive (SSD), with a full 8GB/512GB configuration costing $1,799. The Surface 2, with Windows RT, starts at $449.