Last night was the midnight launch event for the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 which happened in a number of select Microsoft Stores.  We decided to check out the party in White Plains, New York, and got to take a look at the new Surface 2, Surface Pro 2, as well as the new type covers and touch covers.  Check out the video below for our quick “Hands on” video of the new tablets.

The Surface 2 feels very thin and light. The new silver metal color looks great and the new 2-stage kickstand will help to adjust the screen for the right angle when using the device from a lower position.  Of course, the Surface 2 has upgraded internal hardware that makes it much faster than the Surface RT and naturally it comes with Windows 8.1 built in.

The Surface Pro 2 is almost exactly the same as the original Surface Pro on the outside.  It’s the same thickness, same weight, same shape.  The only noticeable difference is in the kickstand which also has two positions for multiple viewing angles, and the “Surface” logo on the back instead of the Windows logo.  On the inside, you get more powerful Haswell CPU options with drastically improved battery life as well as numerous options for more RAM and larger solid state storage capacities.


The biggest upgrade are the accessories.  At launch, new type covers and new touch covers are available though a new docking station, extended battery keyboard, and music-mix blade accessory will be available at a later time.  The new type cover is a bit thinner than the original type cover and is available in cyan, magenta, purple, and black.  Its trackpad is more like the touch cover trackpad and the keyboard keys have a little bit less travel in them, but it still feels great.  Another new feature is the backlit keys. It’s a pretty impressive feat of engineering to get backlit keys into such a thin keyboard!  There’s also F keys now and brightness controls for the backlighting.

The touch keyboard has seen some interesting upgrades as well.  Firstly, it feels much easier to type with. You still don’t get the tactile feedback of a physically moving key, but it certainly seems better at recognizing keys compared to the original touch keyboards I’ve been using all year.  Another upgrade that I am pretty impressed with is that this keyboard has backlighting too.  It’s hard to believe since it’s so ridiculously thin, but it works.  F keys and brightness controls are here as well.  And there’s one more interesting thing about the touch keyboard.  You can use certain Multi-Touch gestures on it to control the placement of your cursor while typing.  For example, you can hold down multiple fingers on the keyboard and slide them left, right, up, or down to move your cursor.  Another extremely cool feature is the fact that when typing using the Touch Cover, Windows 8.1’s predictive text options are usable.  As you type, suggestions will appear and you can slide a gesture on the spacebar in order to select the suggested word, then tap the spacebar again to enter it without having to type the whole word.  This works similarly to the new touch screen keyboard in Windows 8.1, but of course you don’t have to take up screen real-estate.  Unfortunately, these gestures are not entirely reliable and may take some getting used to.

If you’re wondering what the launch event itself was like, the Microsoft Store in the Westchester Mall had a line set up with a DJ in the hall area outside the store.  People with purple “Surface” shirts were there to hand out Gatorade and little bagged lunches if you were hungry or thirsty.  Everyone got some nice “Surface” t-shirts, hats, and pens.  The store was also holding a contest and raffle while waiting for the official launch.  The raffle prices were things like Microsoft Store gift cards and Starbucks gift cards, while the contest required you to score points by completing a series of Surface-tablet-related games.  Most of the games tested your memory where an employee would show you a list of words or shapes for 10 seconds and then you would have to repeat the items by entering them into an app on the Surface.  Each game was designed to show off a feature of the new tablet and each contestant’s score was added up at the end of the night. The person with the highest score got to fly to Florida today and see a Pitbull concert.  Of course, at midnight you could pick up your Surface pre-orders or buy your own as well and there were certainly a good number there to do just that even though the rest of the mall was completely shut down and black.

Did you pick up a Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 at a midnight launch or just have one delivered? Let us know in the comments.

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