Microsoft Surface RT vs Surface 2

Does the Surface 2 make a compelling case for Windows RT?

Microsoft Surface RT vs Surface 3

While Microsoft's Surface Pro portable gets the best reviews, the Surface RT is often ignored in favor of Apple iPads and quad-core Android tablets. It's hardly a surprise, the Surface RT looked good but didn't have enough technological ambition. Its fun and colorful snap-on keyboard wasn't a compelling reason to buy. So can the Surface 2 convince people that Windows 8.1 can deliver a great tablet experience? Or is Microsoft throwing another billion dollars down the drain? Find out here ...

Microsoft Surface RT vs Surface 2: Design

Microsoft hasn't made any dramatic changes to the smart-looking VaporMg design of the Surface. The Surface 2 looks the same as the original RT model and accommodates a similar 10.6-inch widescreen display. On paper, the revamped Surface 2 is thinner and lighter, measuring 274.6 x 172.5 x 8.9mm and weighing 676g. But compare this to the Surface RT's dimensions - 274.6 x 171.9 x 9.4mm, 680g - and you'll see that the difference is marginal.

surface rt vs surface 2
The new Surface 2 is imperceptibly thinner and lighter than the old Surface RT

More of a selling point is the new silver/white color (the Surface RT is black) and the redesigned, two-stage kickstand, giving you two different viewing angles. The internal speakers have also been improved and the Surface 2 can be plugged into the new Touch Cover 2, which features a backlight and 1,092 sensors for greater responsiveness - 1,012 more than the original Touch Cover. The new Touch Cover 2 also supports gesture controls should you want to wave at your Surface 2 tablet rather than touch it.

The new kickstand offers two standing positions, giving you different viewing angles

It's not the only accessory. The new Type Cover 2 improves the thin mechanical keyboard, offering snap-in magenta, cyan, purple and black options. Like the Touch Cover 2, the keyboard is backlit enabling you to work with the lights off. Finally, the Power Cover gives you a keyboard with a built-in battery that extends the battery life by up to 50%.

Microsoft Surface RT vs Surface 2: Display

While the 10.6-inch size of the ClearType display hasn't changed, Microsoft has boosted the original model's 1366 x 768 pixel screen resolution up to Full 1080p HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) on the Surface 2. Microsoft also claims that the color accuracy of the new display (which also appears on the new Surface Pro 2) is 50% better.

Microsoft Surface RT vs Surface 2: Processor

Where the Surface RT launched with a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3, the Surface 2 gets a jump in processing power with a new 1.7GHz quad-core Tegra 4 chip that incorporates 72 GPU cores (compared to the Tegra 3's 12).

Crucially, this processor upgrade should eliminate the annoying lag that often plagued the Surface RT. Microsoft demonstrated its number-crunching prowess at launch by simultaneously running Office RT apps in the background while playing Halo: Spartan Assault.

Microsoft Surface RT vs Surface 2: OS and software

As expected, Surface 2 comes with the RT version of Windows 8.1, which features new snap views, different sized tiles, and a host of other improvements.

Surface 2 also includes Microsoft Office (as did the original RT model) with Outlook, plus the "best of Skype" for a year, which gives Surface 2 owners free international calling and free WiFi. New owners will also get 200GB of SkyDrive storage for two years.

On top of all this, Surface 2 will naturally benefit from the availability of more apps - there are now more than 100,000 in the Windows Store, compared to only 10,000 when the Surface RT launched.

Microsoft Surface RT vs Surface 2: memory and storage

Not much change here. Both the Surface RT and its look-alike successor come with 2MB of RAM and are available with 32GB or 64GB of onboard storage. The two models feature the same SDXC card slot.

Microsoft Surface RT vs Surface 2: Connectivity

In terms of wireless connectivity, the Surface RT shipped with 802.11/a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 - no 3G or LTE connectivity. The Surface 2 doesn't do any better, even though the Tegra 4 can support an LTE chipset.