Up until a few days ago, the world really didn’t even know that Microsoft had a tablet in the works. Last night however, Microsoft unleashed a beast that we’re still trying to wrap our heads around. What we’re sure of, at least, is that their “Surface” is a tablet…well, kind of. It’s actually a hybrid tablet/ultrabook with a detachable keyboard & trackpad base that doubles as a sort of Smart Cover. This new piece of hardware borrows many concepts and style from the Asus Transformer and the iPad. Hit the jump for specs and the first commercial for the new device.
There are two versions of the Surface. The lower-end device will house Windows RT (a new mobile version of Windows for tablets), utilize an ARM Nvidia Tegra 3 processor (common in tablets), and a USB 2.0 port. The Pro version will not only be able to run Windows 8 Professional to it’s fullest capacity, but it will also have a shiny new Ivy Bridge Intel i5 processor (yes, the i5 is what the low-end MacBook Air and Pro start with) and a USB 3.0 port. Both versions will also have a display output and a very useful MicroSD card slot to expand the memory from the available 32-64GB (RT version) or 64-128GB (Pro).
Another feature that is definitely worth mentioning is the High Definition “Clear Type” Display, a new Microsoft label that is attempting to rival Apple’s Retina Display. However, the pixel depth of the display is nowhere near as impressive as the iPad Retina, which has 268 ppi (pixels per inch). While the 10.6 inch 16:9 display can present today’s full 1080 HD video, it’s pixel depth still rests at only 208 ppi (still pretty impressive for a non-Apple tablet).
I’m still getting used to the aesthetics of the design; it’s somewhat boxy and has a kickstand that pops out from the back. I’m not too sure how well the plastic-looking stand will hold up with any amount of abuse, and since this is the only way the device stands up (and sits like a laptop), I’d be pretty worried that I would break it. I’m also not sure how well the device will sit on my lap, if I want to use it as a laptop in the literal sense. We’ll see how it feels when we finally get our hands on this tablet/laptop.
This tablet is quite interesting in that it is competing not only against the iPad, but Android tablets and ultrabooks as well. It’s a tablet that can mimic a computer at any point in time, and the Pro version can completely replace your laptop if you aren’t a really heavy user. Another aspect that pits this device in direct competition with Apple is its implementation of a Smart-Cover-like accessory. This is one thing that the Surface seems to do even better than the iPad; its “Touch Cover” is not only a simple magnetic cover, but also fully-functioning keyboard and trackpad. Since this cover doesn’t have typical buttons, I’m sure it will be somewhat strange to type on, but thankfully Microsoft has this “covered” (heh heh). If you want a more traditional feel to your keyboard, they also have what they call a “Type Cover.”
What you may not realize as a consumer is that this is the first time Microsoft has tried their hand at manufacturing their own computers (or computer-like devices). It will be quite interesting to see how the company progresses in the future. Will they attempt to wade deeper into the manufacturing industry a la Apple?
While I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this new device, the intense new commercial (which you can see below) effectively communicates Microsoft’s message that it’s really amazing. Pricing and release dates haven’t been announced yet, but you can expect tablet prices for the RT and ultrabook prices for the Pro when they launch with Windows 8.
Stay tuned for more info and be sure to sell your old tablets and other gadgets to MaxBack for quick cash towards an upgrade!Photos and video, courtesy of Microsoft.