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Hands on with the Microsoft Surface 2 (pictures)

Microsoft gave its Surface RT tablet a complete makeover, adding a better screen, a new kickstand, and longer battery life.

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Dan Ackerman
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Dan Ackerman
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1 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Meet the Surface 2

While Microsoft revamped both of its Surface tablets ahead of the 2013 holiday season, it's the Surface 2, which is still running Windows RT, that underwent a complete makeover.

The updated tablet features a slightly slimmer body, an updated 1.7GHz Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, and a higher-resolution screen than the original Surface.

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2 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Updated screen

Both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 share the same 1,920x1,080-pixel-resolution screen now, and it's been color-tuned for greater accuracy.

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3 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

A RT tablet, without the RT name

Microsoft dropped the RT from the tablet's name, but the Surface 2 is still running Windows RT, a version of the operating system designed for mobile devices (as opposed to laptops and desktop computers).

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4 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Design refresh

While the Windows 8 Surface Pro 2 still comes in a slatelike black, the Windows RT Surface 2 is now a lighter color, more of a silver/magnesium (and the bodies of both are made of mostly magnesium).

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5 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Slimmed-down Surface

The Surface 2 has a new thinner body. Also, the back kickstand now says "Surface" instead of "Microsoft."

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6 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Two kickstand positions

The built-in kickstand now adjusts to two different angles, making the system easier to see from different positions.

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7 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Camera upgrades

Surface 2 also has improved front and rear cameras (3.5MP front, 5.0MP rear) for Skype and other Webcam use.

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8 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Simple controls

There's a slim volume rocker on the side of the Surface 2, along with the headphone jack and a small speaker grille.

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9 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

New Touch Cover

The Touch Cover is about one third thinner than the original version, but at the same time, more rigid for easier typing.

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10 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Typing on the Touch Cover

In our hands-on time with the new Touch Cover, typing felt faster, with less latency and with great accuracy, especially when typing quickly.

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11 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

A new colorful Type Cover

Microsoft also revamped the Type Cover, which has a full separate-key keyboard, with a thinner design and new color choices. Both the Touch Cover and Type Cover are now backlit, as well.

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12 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Pricing and availability

Both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will be available starting October 22. The Surface 2, with Windows RT, starts at $449, but the previous model Surface RT will still be available for $349.

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