After years of intense speculation Microsoft has unveiled not one, but two Windows-based tablets called Surface at a special press event in Los Angeles.
Almost two years and three months after Apple launched its iPad, Microsoft is hoping Surface will do what no other has done before and take a sizeable chunk out of Apple’s marketshare.
Surface is split into two variations; Surface and Surface Pro. Surface runs Windows RT, is powered by ARM chips, measures 9.3 mm thick, weighs just 576 grams, has a 1080p 10.6-inch ClearType HD display and has both a front and rear-facing cameras.
Surface Pro on the face of it is very similar; but is 13.5 mm thick, weighs 903 grams and will be running Intel chips including their new i5 Ivy Bridge processor.
The extra weight on the Pro version is there for a reason, the Intel-powered variant will run Window 8 Pro – meaning you be able to use power-apps like Photoshop rather than the stripped-down Metro apps.
The industrial design see’s both tablets sporting a svelte angled all-magnesium VaporMg case, gorilla glass 2.0, and an innovative kickstand measuring 0.7mm.
From first impressions the tablets are clearly reminiscent of Asus’ Transformer hybrid-tablets, but Microsoft has taken the hybrid principle ever further by creating two incredibly thin Apple-like smart covers.
The first cover is a, 3mm thin, pressure sensitive cover that doubles as a fully functioning keyboard and trackpad. The Touch Cover connects to Surface with a single magnetic click much like an Apple smart cover.
There is also a thicker version called Type Cover which is physical keyboard attachment with a full trackpad and clicking buttons for a more tactile feel.
From early impression it’s an incredibly innovative approach to bridging the gap between laptop and tablet – giving you the choice of two proper QWERTY keyboards with trackpad controls.
As for expansion, you’ll get one HDMI, microSD and a full size USB 2.0, while the Pro version comes with a USB 3.0 – Microsoft didn’t give a release date or price, but it’s expected to be released by the end of the year.
The devices are also designed to work with a new stylus pen using what the tech-giant called “digital ink”. When the stylus is held close to the screen the tablet will ignore the input from the users’ hands but only the pen’s input, it “samples” the ink at 600dpi.
The Arm-based version will be available with either 32GB or 64GB of storage. Microsoft said they would be priced at a similar price to other ARM-based tablets.
The company said that the Pro versions would be offered with either 64GB or 128GB of storage and would have price tags comparable to ultrabook laptops.
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