Microsoft unveils tablet upgrades
Microsoft has unveiled two new upgrades to its Surface tablet as it seeks to take on Apple, Google, Amazon and Samsung in the booming handheld computer market.
Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 were unveiled in New York, with the Windows company promising improved processing power, battery life, display and camera quality over the first generation versions. It has also redesigned the Kickstand, which allows the tablet to be propped up, saying it is more comfortable to use on your lap or at a desk.
The tablets will go on sale in the UK on October 22, with prices starting at £359 for the Surface 2 and £719 for the Surface Pro 2, which like its predecessor is billed as "a true laptop replacement".
A Microsoft spokeswoman said: "Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 each benefit from significant updates, including improvements to processing power and battery life, to display and camera resolution, and to the kickstand, now with dual angles, so it's more comfortable for you to use your Surface on your lap or at your desk.
"Enhancements in Windows RT 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro make Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 even more powerful and customisable."
The Surface 2 has an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor and increased battery life that allows up to 10 hours for video playback, the company said.
It has a new 3.5-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera, both capable of capturing 1080p video, with better performance in low light. It is also slightly thinner and lighter than its predecessor.
The Surface Pro 2 has an Intel Core i5 processor which offers increased performance and a battery life up to 60% longer than the Surface 2. The top of the range model will have 512GB of memory.
As a sweetener, Microsoft is giving people who buy either tablet free Skype calls to 60 countries for a year, calling to landlines in more than 60 countries for one year, unlimited Skype wifi at hotspots for a year, and 200GB of free SkyDrive cloud-style storage for two years.
Microsoft also unveiled six new accessories for the tablet: three new keyboard covers, including a power-saving version, a docking station for the Surface Pro 2, a USB car charger and a Surface version of its Arc Touch wireless mouse.