Surface Pro 2 comes to life as Microsoft's next-gen tablet flagship

Microsoft pulled out two '2s' today

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Microsoft introduced the follow-up to the Surface Pro today, better known as the Surface Pro 2.

The tablet is said to have a 20% performance improvement over its predecessor, with a 50% graphics jump too. Microsoft Vice President of Surface Panos Panay said the device is, for all intents and purposes, a full-blown PC housed in the portable body of a tablet.

To keep on with the percentages, Panay boasted the Pro 2 is 95% faster than a laptop. And thanks to the Haswell chip knocking about inside, the Surface Pro 2 comes with a 75% battery boost over its predecessor.

Despite the added juice, Panay said the new tablet runs quieter and cooler than a normal PC.

Microsoft's next-gen operating system, Windows 8.1, alights inside, while a Surface pen is part of every Surface Pro 2 package.

The Surface Pro 2 price kicks off at $899 (£719, about AU$951), available in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4GB of RAM. Bump it up to 8GB of RAM and the Pro 2 can come in 256GB and 512GB flavors.

The tablet along with the Windows 8.1 RT-running Surface 2 will launch on Oct. 22 in 21 countries.

Update: Subsequent press releases and a Reddit Ask Me Anything session with the Surface Team stated the battery life is boosted by up to 60%, however Microsoft later confirmed the Surface Pro 2delivers up to 75% longer battery life than Surface Pro.

New additions

Screen-wise the Pro 2 has a 1080p display, while a dock (more on that below) can support a screen up to 3840 x 2160. The tablet comes with a microSD port and a solo USB 3.0 slot, a headphone jack, mini DisplayPort and a cover port, as is to be expected.

As was rumored, the new Surface comes rocking a two-stage kickstand. It's positioned at 22 degrees, though you can readjust to 55 degrees.

But a new kickstand wasn't all Microsoft bestowed on its new Surface Pro. Microsoft unleashed a number of accessories, seven in total.

Keeping with the "2" times, both the Touch Cover and Type Cover are seeing a refresh. The Touch Cover 2 measures 2.75mm thick features backlit keys for those low-lit times. Like the slimmer Type Cover 2, it was given more rigidity as well.

Pre-orders for both new covers start on Sept. 24. The Touch Cover 2 will retail for $119.99 (about £74, AU$127) and the Type for $129.99 (about £81, AU$137).

Backlit keyboard
Nice backlighting, bro

Microsoft also introduced a new cover, fittingly named the Power Cover. The P.C. (we couldn't resist) gives the Pro 2 2.5 times the battery life found in its internal battery. It will retail for $199.99 (about £124, AU$210), though its projected release date isn't until early 2014.

Pushing on the accessory front further still, Microsoft outted the Surface Pro docking station to quickly hook up to desktop PC peripherals. The docking station works with either the Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 and can connect to either an external monitor, Ethernet, speakers or a power supply.

The docking station comes complete with three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 slot, and a mini DisplayPort, plus Ethernet, Audio In, Audio Out and power hook-ups as well. It too isn't expected until early 2014, when it will sell for $199.99 (about £124, AU$210).

Surface Pro 2 performance

Panay's message throughout the Surface Pro 2's debut was clear - this is a high performance machine designed to take on professional-level duties.

To demo the new and improved Surface Pro 2's PC-like capabilities, Microsoft showed off some raw 6K data processing on the new tablet. With a resolution of resolution of nine times that of HD, the Pro 2 handled it with ease.

Microsoft is throwing 200GB of additional SkyDrive storage for two years with the purchase of a Pro 2, plus one year unlimited free voice calling to landlines through Skype and free Skype Wi-Fi at over two million global hotspots.

Stay tuned for our hands on review of the new Surface Pro 2!