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New Surface Units from Microsoft: ?The Most Productive Tablets on the Planet?

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) today announced that the Surface line is receiving a major refresh ? mostly regarding the internals, and just according to the earlier rumors. Surface Pro 2 got a boost in both performance and battery life with 4th gen Intel Core i5 and various storage/memory options, while the Surface RT successor lost the "RT" in the brand and turned into the Surface 2 with Nvidia Tegra 4 SoC.

Microsoft Surface
Surface Pro 2 & Surface 2

Panos Panay took the stage to demo the units and state how they are the most productive tablets in the world for both professionals and regular users. The Surface Pro 2 looks carries over the same design of the Pro (with an improved kickstand), and still carries the 10.6-inch ClearType HD 1080p screen – with 46% better color accuracy – and some other surprises under the hood. Improvements were made in audio and general performance as well as the impressive battery life ? 75% more than in the previous unit. Performance-wise, Pro 2 brings over a 20% improvement in performance, as well as the 50% improvement with graphics. Surface Pro 2 is running cooler and more silent, while having enough ?kick? to process the 6K video, which Panay demoed on stage by connecting the unit to a RED Dragon camera. Pro 2 will also come with options for up to 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage space, but the starting price is $899 (4GB/64GB).

Microsoft isn?t giving up on Windows RT. They also introduced the Surface 2, a ?lighter, thinner, faster? successor to the Surface RT. It uses the same ClearType HD screen as the Pro 2 unit (which means a significant upgrade over the Surface RT), and it also packs the Nvidia Tegra 4 SoC. Microsoft’s corporate VP and Surface creator Panos Panay even opened all of the Office apps and put a Halo game on the side of the screen to show the multitasking power of the unit. ?It is much faster ? now with 72 graphics cores, twice the internet speed, and USB 3.0. It is even more beautiful ? with an enticing new color that reflects the true color of Magnesium, a full HD screen, and a thinner and lighter design,? says Panay on the official Surface blog.

Surface Dock
Surface Docking Station will arrive only in 2014. 

The Surface 2 should get up to 25% more life on a single battery charge, and is up to four times faster than the previous unit. Both camera units are ?significantly improved? according to the company (with no words if the Pro 2 got the same upgrade). Rear shooter is now a 5MP unit (1/3? type sensor) and front facing camera is a 3.5MP unit – both capable of recording video in low light conditions, which Panay demoed on stage using Skype. Surface 2 should arrive with a full Office suite just as the previous unit (plus Outlook), and Skype Premium as well as 200GB of storage on SkyDrive ? with starting price of $449 (32GB configuration).

Full specifications can be found on the official page of both units. Curiously enough, the company didn?t announce the smaller Surface variant today, which was claimed to exist by the very same insiders who were right about the info on other two models.

When it comes to accessories, Microsoft will offer a wide range of keyboard docks ? thinner Touch Cover 2 and Type Cover 2 sporting features such as backlighting that powers on only when the user is approaching the keyboard with hands thanks to the proximity sensor, improved sensor array on the former model (80 sensors before ? 1092 now), and so forth. In addition, the company introduced the Power Cover (keyboard with 31Wh battery), the Docking Station (with 3xUSB 2.0, 1xUSB 3.0, mini-DP, Ethernet, Audio in/out and power connections), wireless adapter for Typing Covers, etc.

Surface Type Cover
Surface Type Cover 2 – new features and color range

Just like with the Surface units, both Typing Covers should be available for preorder starting September 24, with first units showing up in stores of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States on October 22. Additional markets should show up in time, and some accessories will launch only in 2014.

Update: During the afternoon, Panos Panay has a Reddit Surface Ask Me Anything session, which you can find on the link