Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 tablet - available from October 22nd in the US, UK and many other markets, and in early November in China - seems at first glance to be little different, if not identical, to the earlier Surface Pro launched in 2012.
Indeed its casing is identical besides a subtle rebranding on the device's rear - gone is the Windows logo, in its place is the word ‘Surface'.
"Surface users are proud of their device and want to show the world what they're using," Microsoft told Computing as the review model was handed over.
The ports are the same (including USB 3.0, Mini Display Port and Micro SDXC card slot), the dimensions are the same (10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches), and it still weighs about 2 pounds. Unlike its trimmed down sibling, the RT or plain Surface brand (without the ‘Pro' suffix), which took the opportunity to upgrade its front and rear facing cameras with the new iteration, the Pro's cameras also remain the same, both are technically HD at 720p.
For the record, the Surface 2 cameras are significantly higher spec, with a 3.5MP front camera, a 5PM on the rear.
Back to the Pro 2, and the screen too is unchanged from the original, but given that it was already a beautiful 10.6 inch display with a native 1920 x 1080p resolution boasting great viewing angles and some of the most vibrant colours we've seen on a tablet, that's hardly a problem.
What has changed externally is the much-maligned kickstand, which now has two positions rather than one. The original Pro was criticised for locking to one angle, which many users found next to unusable when typing on their laps. The second angle brought by the Surface Pro 2 offers a more oblique lock in addition, which brings both stability, and choice.
Moving to the guts of the new beast, the most important difference is the processor, which is now one of Intel's new Haswell chips, making it much less power hungry, and more adept at throwing complex graphics around the screen. Microsoft is claiming that the battery now offers 75 per cent more life.
While Computing couldn't quite match those figures, it certainly lasts a full eight-hour working day of email, web browsing and word processing, which is impressive. Subject it to HD movies with the screen brightness on full, and you might find it draining more quickly, but for general business use it hits the sweet spot of giving you a day of moving between meetings, or wandering a conference floor, without needing to flit between power sockets.
The Pro 2 comes in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB models, with the first two offering 4GB of RAM, and the latter two boasting an impressive 8GB. Computing tested the basic 64GB version (which means 4GB of RAM), and felt that it was able to run and switch between several different apps smoothly, and at speed.
One complaint is that the OS (Windows 8.1 comes bundled with the Pro 2) really eats into the SSD capacity, with around 37GB available of the alleged 64GB on Computing's review model. This could quickly fill up on a corporate device which is likely to require the full MS Office suite at a minimum, and likely a few bespoke applications and a smattering of productivity and entertainment apps from the Windows Store too. While the capacity can be boosted with a MicroSD card (a 64GB card will set you back somewhere just shy of £40 at today's prices), many enterprises will prefer the 128GB model or above.
And speaking of entertainment, the Pro 2 features an Intel HD 4400 graphics card, which is perfectly adequate for most corporate use, but makes it slightly limited for CAD purposes, or top-end gaming. Having said that, it does support API collections such as DirectX 11.1, OpenCL 1.2 and OpenGL 4.0, and serious gamers and professional designers are unlikely to expect top end performance whilst sitting on a train.
Following the somewhat disappointing sales figures of the original Surface models (in the UK at least), Microsoft is pushing the latest versions with attractive bundles of software and storage offers, and a good selection of peripheral support.