Surface 2 Down Under: No Australia Tax!

Surface 2 Down Under: No Australia Tax!

The initial generation of Microsoft’s Surface tablet didn’t sell so well, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft persisting with an updated Surface 2 design running Windows 8.1. The good news for Australians? Based on what we know so far, there won’t be any ‘Australia tax’ added to the price.

Picture: Getty Images

The Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro will launch on 22 October in 22 markets, including Australia and New Zealand. Online pre-orders will begin from 10pm tonight (24 September, Australian Eastern standard time). The Surface will also be sold through JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman, but there’s no pre-order option there.

The Surface 2 will be priced from $529 (for a 32GB model), while the Surface 2 Pro will be $1019 for the 64GB model. In the US, those prices are $US449 and $US899 respectively.

Convert those to Australian dollars at the current exchange rate and you get $476 and $1079 respectively. Add 10 per cent for GST (the US pricing doesn’t include tax) and you end up with $523.60 and $1186.90. At those prices, importing wouldn’t make a lot of sense, especially given you’ll need a different power adaptor for Australia.

Here are all the announced prices for Australia:

Model Price
Surface 2 32GB $529
Surface 2 64GB $639
Surface Pro 2 64GB + Surface pen $1019
Surface Pro 2 128GB + Surface pen $1129
Surface Pro 2 256GB + Surface pen $1469
Surface Pro 2 512GB + Surface pen $2039

While the pricing break is welcome (and contrasts with the lack of discounts on the original Surface at the recent TechEd Australia event), whether the second generation of Surface can wean users way from iPads and Android tablets remains to be seen. As a frequent Surface user, the most welcome improvement is the addition of a dual-angle kickstand, which is said to make the tablet more usable on your lap. This is definitely a challenge with the original design, so I’ll be keen to see what difference that makes.

The Surface 2 comes in 32GB and 64GB models, while the Surface 2 Pro will be offered in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB designs. The Surface 2’s cameras have been upgraded (3.5MP front and 5MP rear), it can now play 1080p video, and its USB ports have been upgraded to the faster USB 3.0 standard.

Microsoft is planning a wider range of accessories, including an upgraded Touch Cover ($139.99; the original Touch Cover is, for all practical purposes, unusable) and Type Cover ($149.99, a much better choice). An optional wireless adaptor lets you connect the keyboard via Bluetooth — useful for when the Surface itself is connected to a TV. A new Power Cover keyboard also acts as an extended battery, but won’t be available until 2014. That’s also the current release date for a docking station for the Surface Pro ($229.99), which will included one USB 3.0 port and three USB 2.0 ports, and a car charger ($59.99).


  • I wouldn’t even use this if i got one for free. I don’t care how good a device is but when you charge $1000 for a piss ant increase in storage someone needs to give you a good smacking.

    Also why do they insist on making the gimped RT version? I have never understood it, I’ve never heard anything nice about it and it seems more likely to drive people away than the opposite.

    • Agreed – RT version makes little sense unless all you want it for is documents and facebook, but really you don’t want to be writing extensive documents on what is essentially a tablet with a keyboard. And a phone can pretty much do whatever this can so I just find it a little obsolete.

      • Correct. There’s literally only one reason for this. University.
        I got my girlfriend a 32GB RT for Uni to replace an old Acer netbook (which are surprisingly heavy) which was small but still a bitch to carry around.

        With the RT being slim and light, she can slip it into her pack and dask off. And the battery life is pretty decent.

        But the ONLY thing she uses if for is Office RT, Googling, Youtube and facebook. That is it.

        But perfect for that.

        Though I am about to trail using it for some oncall work since Citrix works well on it now. Will save carrying a laptop around.

    • The difference between cheap off-the-shelf 64GB and 512GB SSDs is about $400, and this is a custom implementation to fit the device profile. Doesn’t sound unreasonable to me at all. You do know this is solid state storage, right?

      • I don’t see your logic. $600 cost because it’s a custom implementation? The price for extra storage is outrageous! $2.20/GB.

        That said, tablet storage is always stupid expensive. It’s a shame.

        • The fact there is a 400 price difference is part of the problem t0 begin with, but that 400 difference alone would be fine and within market norms.

          Adding $600 on top of that “because” is insane. Its the principle of it.

        • $600 because it’s more advanced technology than what appears in your typical SSD, which has considerably more space to work with. The combination of cell miniaturisation and physical spread presents some interesting and non-trivial performance problems to overcome.

    • Doubling memory from 4 to 8GB and adding 8x the storage means there is justification for a price increase. Honestly the 512GB version is likely to not be that popular, but people who want it will buy it even with such a price increase. Ergo, charge what the market will bear.

  • I don’t mean this facetiously, but what is the point of, or what is the market for the Surface?

    I like the idea of having an ultra portable PC (notebook) which I can also use for mobile business purposes, and as a tablet whenever I need to use a tablet, which is basically never. So for me it would be occasionally used as a business tool – when I went on holiday, or on a short trip etc – and occasionally used as a dumb toy – entertaining myself with whatever a tablet has to offer – games, youtube, second screen to watch movies on.

    I have an EeePC which I used to love until I mucked it up, and when I used that I was very impressed with its portability, functionality (proper keyboard, all Windows programs, MS Office etc). That basically let me perform full business activities whilst on holiday, also acted as a backup PC in the event of a technical issue, and also acted as a second screen. Perhaps I need to try to revive it.

    I’ve still not bought a tablet as I don’t think I need one. My Samsung Galaxy IIS works really well as a portable internet device, and as an Android games device. And I’m sure I’ll get a better phone sooner or later – which will do exactly the same but just cost me more money.

    I’m confused because I wouldn’t mind waiting for the Surface 3, or for the Surface 2 pro to drop to reasonable prices if it’s going to act as a fully functional business machine – but then I’ve recently bought a new notebook so a tablet won’t replace that.

    I just don’t know if this will offer me anything that an Android tablet won’t give me at a much lower price. And I understand that MS Office is also available on Android.

    Should I be paying attention to the Surface?

    I get the feeling that it’s going to take a couple of years before the price point and performance of the Surface get to where I want it to be – which would be very close to a full blown mid range notebook. I don’t want to spend $1,000 on an occasionally used toy that will be superseded by the time i’ve used it twice, and I don’t want to spend $1,000 on a business tool that won’t work as well as the tools I already own.

    • I bought a Samsung chromebook the other day for uni, having a decent size solid keyboard and a reasonable screen is perfect for class. Having had a netbook I can say that this is a significant upgrade.

      The Microsoft surface performs a similar role, a functioning computer with keyboard and screen to simply use for work/uni.

      I also have a tablet, which gets used around the house or when travelling. It sounds strange but each of the devices has a different use.

    • My current Surface Pro is absolutely perfect for work. It doesn’t switch between a tablet and a laptop it simply is a tablet and a laptop at the same time, if you get what I mean. There’s no real barrier between the functionality. At work I plug it into my desk and it’s a full scale two screen desktop computer, but I can just snap it off and use it on my workbench as a laptop if I need too.
      When I do that I can also do tasks better suited for a tablet without any hassle. For instance I reference a lot of manuals and wiring diagrams when working, something a tablet is really nice for, but I also write my own documentation, something which is better suited to a desktop or laptop. With the Surface Pro there’s no transition. I swipe back and forth between my software running on the desktop and the reader App seamlessly.
      It also means I can take everything home very easily. The thing paid for itself during one time sensitive emergency where I was able to easily resolve the issue on the spot at home. I had the correct programming software and the relevant files I needed to make the changes right in front of me. If it wasn’t for the Surface I wouldn’t have been able to even start on it until the next day.

      What it gives you that a Android tablet doesn’t is full Windows. The Windows Store sucks for the most part but thanks to the Windows 8 desktop I’ve never had an issue finding software to do what I need. It actually makes things a lot easier because I don’t have to wait for the tablet version of a program to be released. I can use my browser of choice with full features rather than a gimped App version.
      I use the exact same programs for my Surface as I do for my desktops. That doesn’t sound like it makes your life better but having the same UI, same file compatibility, same everything, really makes things go smoother for me.

      Other devices do all that, and the Surface Pro has flaws and a ton of stuff that needs refinement, but overall it’s a really versatile solution. I find that because it’s made my Microsoft and specifically designed for Windows 8 it’s very smooth where others aren’t.

      Although I’ll admit as much as I love my Surface Pro these prices have turned me off the Surface 2 Pro…

      • Great responses – both DogMan and duzz – thanks

        Yeah it looks like in a few years the Surface will be the notebook / desktop replacement that i’ll be looking for, and will just have that as my main device to perform pretty much anything and everything.

        It looks to me that the price isn’t right at this stage, and also the tech isn’t quite as strong as it could be if it’s to match my current notebook – which has 1TB hard drive space (mostly files that could be on an external drive), and still struggles occasionally although it’s an i7 with 8gb ram.

        When I first got my Samsung Galaxy IIS I was excited and impressed by the huge amount of apps available, but now I view that as a bit of a trap – and I don’t really care if the Window app store is bare by comparison – as the proper Window applications are generally superior than my requirements.

        I think maybe an Android tablet is my best choice at this stage, just to have a bit of a toy to play around with, which has some very slight business functionality (for me), and maybe a Chrome Book if I want a backup notebook type of thing (which I probably don’t at this stage, as I already have an older notebook), and then maybe look to buy the Surface, 3 4 or 5 instead of a new notebook in 2 to 3 years or so.

        Especially if the Surface by then will be technically superior to current i7 notebooks.

  • Still the best application of a pen on any tablet, especially when matched with OneNote. That’s why I have one, after using a Note 10.1 and an iPad over the years. I’m looking forward to the Power cover coming out, which should double the battery life (which is the biggest drawback of the original Surface).

  • I’m buying one. Pre order tonight. Cant wait.
    I work in post production using photoshop, maya, zbrush and the like. It ticks all the boxes for me. Wacom pen is the clincher.

  • I think many people have way too much bias and prejudice when comparing the Surface with competing devices.

    Perhaps one should evaluate a piece of technology based on their requirements and use-cases; rather than unjustified and/or illogical reasoning.

    Going through my list of use-cases, I found that the Surface Pro 2 and the Microsoft ecosystem was the clear winner.

    +1 for Pre-order

  • The issue for me as I write this on my surface is that the hardware is awesome, and the software is good in most ways, but still has a long way to go before its as amazing as it should be..

    Two examples out of many, the onscreen keyboard is great – but every time it pops up, it resizes the window and moves your desktop icons up so they are all visible (also great), but when you close the keyboard.. it doesn’t revert..

    And with fullscreen apps, some don’t properly accept input from the touchscreen either via pen or touch unless you run them in a window for some reason, which isn’t a problem as such.. except they also tend to ignore pressing the windows key.. so if you have no keyboard handy your only option is to hard reset… though it does boot back up in about 3 secs, so can’t complain too much hey.

    I really think you guys should do a gaming on the surface article, because I’m on holiday and honestly, I have loved having real games not just jetpack joyride lol

    • One game in particular: Civ 5.

      Seriously amazing with touch, it’s hard to describe without it right in front of you.

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