Microsoft on Monday unveiled the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, the follow-ups to its first self-produced tablets, promising significant performance and battery life boosts, as well as a bevy of new features and accessories for its second-generation slates.

The Surface 2 is the successor to the ARM-based Surface RT tablet released on Oct. 26, 2012. It has a Tegra 4 processor from Nvidia and will be made available on Oct. 22 starting at $449 for the 32GB version. A 64GB version will also be available and both flavors ship with Windows RT 8.1, Microsoft said during the official unveiling of the tablet at an event in New York City. Pre-orders for the new tablet begin Tuesday morning, the company said.

The new ARM-based tablet has 25 percent more battery life than its predecessor and is "thinner, faster, and brighter" than the original Surface RT, Panos Panay, vice president of Microsoft's Surface unit, said at Monday's event. The Surface 2's touch display also has less reflectivity than the first-generation slate and the new tablet now supports USB 3.0, he said.

The Surface 2's cameras have also been improved—the new tablet sports a 3.5-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel rear camera, "both capable of capturing 1080p video and featuring improved low-light performance making face-to-face conversations with your favorite people crisp and clear," Microsoft said.

Buyers of the Surface 2 will get 200GB of storage on Microsoft's SkyDrive for two years after purchase, Panay said, adding that syncing and restoring will be enabled on the new tablets via the company's flagship cloud service. The software giant is also providing a year's worth of "Best of Skype" service—free international calling and free Wi-Fi access—with the purchase of a Surface 2.

The new tablet comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Office 2013 RT and Outlook RT, and features "improvements in key areas such as personalization, search, multitasking, built-in apps, the Windows Store experience, and cloud connectivity," according to Microsoft.

PC Magazine