Microsoft is holding an invitation only press event next Monday, September 23, to announce its new generation of Surface tablets, currently known as Surface 2. Both the RT model (to which rumors currently ascribe the label “Surface 2″) and the full-blown Windows model (to which the name “Surface Pro 2″ currently sticks likewise by rumor) are supposed to get some serious upgrades. By combining interesting rumor coverage from The Verge, ZDnet, and Design&Trend, here’s what I’ve been able to piece together about the next-gen version of these devices, which appear to get about half-way to meeting the wish list I put together for the Pro model in November 2012. I’ll list what I’ve been able to learn about for each model separately, in bulleted list form (both are expected to acquire a two-step kickstand, which permits the extension to lock into two different positions rather than the current single position):
Surface 2 (Windows 8.1 RT model)
- Slated to include a faster Tegra 4 CPU
- RAM capacity will double, from 2 GB to 4 GB
- Screen resolution will increase to 1080p
- New RT OS is reportedly based on Windows 8.1, and designed to boot up, run, and shut down more quickly
Surface Pro 2 (Windows 8.1 full OS model):
- Haswell i5 CPU, with some i7 ULV models also possible.
- 8 GB RAM (now that one SO-DIMM accommodates 8 GB easily, this is a no-brainer).
- 256 and 512 GB SSD configurations should be available (don’t forget: you can talk to the Microsoft Store about special-ordering higher-end models).
- Paul Thurrott reports that battery life shold go up from 4-5 hours to as high as 7 hours (from MJF at ZDnet in her Surface Pro 2 leaks story). A new Power Cover will include a built-in, rechargeable battery pack, along with a Type Cover style keyboard, and will extend the unit’s battery life still further (by how much, however, isn’t yet known).
- A dock for the unit is widely expected to be made available, and is said to support external monitor connections, gigabit Ethernet, plus one USB 3.0 port and three USB 2.0 ports. Sources say the dock will work with both first and second generation Surface Pro models. The dock will also charge up any attached Surface Pro tablet. No pricing information is available, though.
If the Power Cover brings the Surface Pro 2 up to 8 hours of battery life or longer, I may just find myself in the market for one. I’ll be looking forward to more detailed coverage after next week’s event concludes. Stay tuned for more info.
[Notes added 9/23/2013, based on reporting from the MS announcement:
Surface 2 (Arm version, formerly Surface RT): Tegra 4 confirmed, 4 GB RAM confirmed, higher 1080p resolution confirmed, 25% better battery life, 1xUSB3.0 port. Price starts at $499.
Surface Pro 2 (x86 version, replaces Surface Pro): MS claims 75% better battery life! 4GB RAM goes with 64 or 128 GB SSDs, 8GB with 256 or 512 GB SSDs; Power Cover said to increase total battery life to ~10 hours; Docking station supports total resolution for all screens up to 3840x2160 (equal to 2x1080p in both dimensions), adds 1xUSB3.0, 3xUSB2.0, an additional mini-DisplayPort, and GbE. Price starts at $899, but no pricing for accessories disclosed yet.
There's even a Surface Music Kit -- namely a touch cover for mixing sound instead of typing text. See the Ars Technica coverage for more details.]
[More Notes from 9/25/2013, based on Paul Thurrott's excellent "Need to Know: Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2" article for WindowsITPro.
More complete pricing information available, especially for peripherals like the new Type Cover offerings, Power Cover, and dock, as well as for more advanced Surface Pro 2 models ($1,299 for 256 GB SSD/8 GB RAM, $1,799 for 512 GB SSD/8 GB RAM). Worth a read-through!]