In an article in August, I highlighted 4 distinct areas where I believed (and, others did, too) Microsoft could improve the Surface Pro to ensure better adoption and a more successful product. With Microsoft finishing up today's presser, it's time to go back to my article and grade how close they've come to addressing my bullet points.
In How to Make the Surface Pro v2 a Success, my 4 bullet points were Battery Life, Thickness and Weight, Price, and Included Accessories, so let's jump back through them one by one.
One of the key improvements Microsoft made sure to address during today's press event was the Surface Pro 2's battery life. Yay! The Surface Pro 2 employs the Intel Haswell chip, which is a processor designed for mobile use. In addition to the Intel processor, Microsoft will be providing a new Power Cover, which is basically the Type Cover with a 30w battery built into it. Microsoft suggests that the new chip combined with the Power Cover makes the Surface Pro 2 an all-day device.
Thickness and Weight
Despite Microsoft stating that the Surface Pro 2 is now lighter, it's still as thick as ever. The tablet unit still houses heat fans. Microsoft indicated that the Surface Pro 2 will now run cooler, so maybe the cooling fans won't kick on as often when hi-rez video is displaying. Fortunately, the Type Cover 2 is 1mm thinner, meaning that carrying around the Surface Pro 2 using the new Type Cover won't seem quite as bulky. But, wait. If you're interested in the Power Cover instead (and who wouldn't be with the extra battery life), the Surface Pro 2 is even thicker than before, making it look more like an ugly laptop.
Microsoft was kind enough to announce the Surface (RT) 2's starting price ($449) pretty quickly during the event, but waited until the very end to give the Surface Pro 2's proposed retail price of $899. That could be bad news. So, to me, something innovative from Lenovo might make more sense. This is clearly an indication that Microsoft learned nothing from the original Surface releases. In What Selling Out the Surface RT Really Means, I went over this, talking about how price truly is the most important aspect of a tablet's success. Remember the HP Touchpad fiasco?
Microsoft unveiled some upcoming accessories for the Surface Pro 2 during the press event, some of which look to be must-haves, but none that address my original concern of including accessories with the Surface Pro 2.
Some of the more notable accessories (purchased separately) are the upcoming Surface Pro docking station and a car power adapter (a highly sought after feature). These are truly valuable add-ons. The other accessory announcements were centered on color-options for the Type Cover, which included one of the ugliest purples I've ever seen.
The Surface Pro 2 was highlighted as a workstation for professionals, while the Surface (RT) 2 was all about play and consumers. For the Surface Pro 2 to be fully recognized as a work device, it has to come with a keyboard cover, but it doesn't.
Microsoft is making moves to become a "devices and services" company, with emphasis on devices more recently. Microsoft has had a year to work on developing to improve their flagship devices. They've heard customer complaints and suggestions, yet they've found a way to make the Surface Pro 2 thicker than before (with the Power Cover) and cost about the same. They did take the battery life into account, but really that wasn't Microsoft's doing, but Intel's. I'm sure they're holding out for future promotions where they attempt to spur sales by announcing accessory bundles, but throwing in a Power or Type Cover with the Surface Pro 2 release would definitely help my interest, so I'm sure it factors in to others' thoughts, too.
I own a Surface Pro (original) and see nothing exceptional about the Surface Pro 2 that makes me excited enough to dish out another $1,000 (with accessories). I'll stick with what I have and just add the accessories I deem valuable.
EXTRA: Incidentally, the new Surface pre-order web site is live here: http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/pre-order