Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Microsoft schedules Sept. 23 press event for Surface 2, Surface Pro 2

The Surface tablet, either in its Pro (Windows 8) or RT (Windows RT 8) variant, sold in underwhelming quantities. Microsoft has not given up, though, as on Monday the company emailed invitations to a Surface event (via The Verge), to be held Sept. 23 in New York City.

While there have been rumors that Microsoft would launch a Surface mini tablet, sources say that the company will stick with full 10.6-inch devices for now. The company will, however, also continue to ship Surface RT tablets, despite the tepid response to the Modern UI app-only tablet (the Surface Pro sold in better quantities, but was still hampered because of its sub-par battery life).

The RT version will drop that moniker, and will just be the Surface 2. Reportedly, the biggest changes hardware-wise to the Surface 2 will be a Tegra 4 processor and a full 1080p display. It will also have a full-sized USB 3.0 port and ship with Windows RT 8.1.

Both the Surface 2 and the Pro 2 will ship with two-stage kickstands.

Meanwhile, the Surface Pro 2 will also have Intel's new Haswell processor, with improved -- but not hugely improved -- battery life, as a result. Sources said the Haswell CPU will add just over two hours of usage to the Surface Pro 2. Percentage-wise, that is a jump, from the reported 4 to 4 1/2 hours of real-life usage to six hours -- that would be a 50 percent jump.

Still, it's nowhere near iPad life, and it's still not enough for a full day of work. A fix might come via the rumored Power Cover, which will be a Type Cover with an additional battery. The new Power Cover will work with both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, but reportedly, it will only be backward-compatible with the Surface Pro, not the Surface RT.

Unfortunately for early adopters of the Surface Pro 2, the Power Cover is rumored to be launched later than the device itself, meaning they will have to suffer with no keyboard and still poor battery life until it reaches retail.

Microsoft is expected to release a docking station, too.

Sources also confirmed the rumored bump in RAM, saying that Microsoft plans to ship Surface Pro 2 units with 8GB of RAM on-board, which sounds as though the extra RAM will be optional. Meanwhile, the Surface may also get a bump in RAM, to 4GB.

All of this remains unclear until Sept. 23, which -- we see -- is nicely time to avoid a collision with a rumored Apple retail launch event on Sept. 20, but may still be overshadowed if Apple chooses to launch the iPhone 5S on Sept. 27 and the iPhone 5C on Sept. 20.

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