Microsoft is well known for their software, but manufacturing tablet computers is a new venture for the tech giant. It’s been almost a year since Microsoft’s signature tablet the Surface Pro was released, and now the second generation of Surface, the Surface Pro 2, is available. Here’s an overview on how the new tablet stacks up.

The biggest appeal of the Surface Pro (compared to the non-Pro model) is that it runs a full operating system, instead of the stripped down Windows RT, making the tablet a fully functional mPC. Microsoft has timed the release of the Surface Pro 2 to correspond with the release of mobile Windows 8.1, which means the differences between Windows 8 and 8.1 will translate with the two generations of Surface Pros. Of course, upgrading an original Surface Pro to Windows 8.1 is also an option.

Just like Windows 8.1 was not a dramatic upgrade from Windows 8, so too is The Surface Pro 2 not a game-changer compared to the original Surface Pro. The new model still has the same look as the old Surface, and it even has the same hefty bulletproof-vest feel that has come to distinguish the Surface from other tablets (both versions of the Surface Pro weigh in at two pounds). The most notable differences between the two generations of the Surface Pro are seen in increased battery life, power efficiency, and performance, all thanks to new fourth-generation Core i-series CPUs from Intel.

Before we get into how the Surface Pro 2 performs, let’s go over the product specifications:

  • Display Size/Resolution: 10.6-inch, 1,920×1,080 touch screen
  • PC CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U
  • PC Memory: 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz
  • Graphics: 1,792MB Intel HD 4400
  • Storage: 64GB SSD hard drive
  • Networking: 802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
  • OS: Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
  • Ports: 1 USB 3.0, microSD card reader

Kickstand with Alternate Angles
One upgrade that compliments the laptop functionality of the Surface Pro 2 is the addition of a second angle with the kickstand when sitting horizontally. Having a second angle to work with may not be a big incentive to upgrade, but it’s a nice feature allowing you to choose between two angles that are most comfortable on your eyes.