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Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 vs. the Competiton

Microsoft Surface Pro 2Microsoft Surface 2Apple iPad (4th Gen)ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T
CPU4th Generation Intel Core i5Nvidia Tegra 4Dual core A6X with quad-core graphicsNvidia Tegra 4
Display10.6-inch ClearType 1920 x 1080 display10.6-inch 1920 x 1080p display9.7-inch IPS 2048 x 1056 display10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 IPS display
Expandable StoragemicroSDXC card readermicroSD card readerN/AmicroSD/SDHC card reader
Battery LifeEstimated 7-15 days idleEstimated 10 hours video playback, 7-15 days idle12:22 (LAPTOP Battery Test)Estimated 13 hours, dock expected to add 4 hours
Size10.8 x 6.8 x 0.5 inches10.8 x 6.8 x 0.4 inches9.5 x 7.3 x 0.4 inches10.3 x 7.1 x 0.4 inches
Weight2 pounds1.5 pounds1.5 pounds1.2 pounds
StylusSurface Pen includedN/AN/AN/A
Storage64GB or 128GB with 4GB of RAM/ 256GB or 512GB with 8GB of RAM32GB or 64GB with 2GB of RAM16GB, 32GB, 64GB or 128GB32GB, 64GB with 5GB of of Asus Webstorage
Cameras Rear / FrontBoth 720p HD cameras5-MP/3.5-MP5-MP/ 1.2-MP5-MP/1.2-MP
PortsUSB 3.0, Headset jack, Mini DisplayPortUSB 3.0, Headset Jack, HD video out3.5-mm headphone jack, Lightning dock connectorMicro HDMI, 2-in-1 audio jack, 3.5mm headphone jack, dock comes with USB 3.0 port and SD card reader

Microsoft’s first venture into the tablet business may not have been as successful as the company had hoped, but it’s not giving up that easily. The Windows-maker just unveiled its Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 earlier this week with the hopes of grabbing some of the slate market share from its rivals.

The new $449 Surface 2 comes with some noteworthy improvements that include a speedy Nvidia Tegra 4 chipset, a full HD 1080p display, a two-position kickstand and low-light webcam. Microsoft boasts that the higher-end $899 Surface Pro 2 is powered by Intel’s newest Haswell chip and promises 75 percent longer life. Both devices have a new 1920 x 1080 display that has 46 percent better color accuracy than its predecessor, and an improved kickstand that offers both 24 degree and 40 degree angles.

MORE: Tablet Buyers' Guide 2013: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy

But are these improvements enough to strengthen Microsoft’s foothold in the tablet space? Microsoft brags that the Surface Pro 2 can handle more demanding applications such as Adobe Premiere, which it demonstrated during its launch event. Since the new Pro is Haswell-powered, we’re bound to see longer battery life, but it’s too soon to tell if the difference will be quite as drastic as Microsoft promises.

By contrast, Apple’s $499 iPad fourth generation tablet comes with the company’s dual-core A6X processor, which runs its iOS operating system. It’s not claiming to be a laptop replacement like the Surface Pro,  but the iPad’s premium design, sharp Retina display, robust app ecosystem still make it the gold standard of tablets for now. Although the iPad's A6X chip sports a dual-core architecture, it supports quad-core graphics that run smoothly on its Retina display.

As for the $449 Surface 2 , Microsoft has embedded a powerful Tegra 4 chipset, which means we can expect a heavier, more demanding gaming experience. Microsoft’s Panos Panay specifically acknowledged that Nvidia’s 72-core graphics chip makes the Surface 2 a better tablet for gaming, and showed it playing Halo: Spartan Assault. Asus’ recently announced $450 Transformer Pad TF701T also runs on a Tegra 4 and comes with a keyboard dock that promises four hours of extra battery life. When it comes to having the sharpest display, Asus’ Transformer Pad TF701T and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 boast the most pixels per inch, but the iPad isn’t too far behind with a 2048 x 1536 display resolution.

The table above  provides a quick look at the key hardware differences between each machine, although their use cases can vary. Those seeking a laptop replacement may be interested in the Surface Pro 2, Surface 2 or Asus Transformer Pad TF701 depending on the desired price range. Others, however, that are looking to use their tablet for light productivity may be interested in the stylus-equipped Galaxy Note 10.1 or the iPad. We look forward to bringing you our full reviews of both Surface tablets soon.