Microsoft took the wraps off its long-awaited new tablet computer today. Make that two, both called Surface.
Both are built around a high definition 10.6 inch "optically bonded" (for extra clarity) screen. One model runs on Windows 8 Pro, suggesting good compatiibility with programs for Microsoft's new desktop/laptop OS. There's also an equally up-to-the-minute Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 Processor driving the show, plus 64 or 128 GB of storage. Arriving three months after the launch of Windows 8 for PCs/laptops, these models of Surface will be priced in the same range as UltraBook-class laptops (now starting around $750.)
The other, slightly smaller and lighter Surface will introduce a mobile minded Windows RT operating system and uses the same breed of energy sipping ARM-based processors found in rival tablets and smartphones. It will arrive sooner than big bro, in 32 and 64 GB varieties, also packing an RT version of thr Office Home & Student suite and priced “competitively” with other tablets. So we’re guessing $600 and up. (See the specifications for both Surface tablets - PDF.)
Surface tablets share snazzy design elements like an all-magnesium enclosure and built-in stand. Coolest is the magnetically-connected cover that opens to reveal a fully functional keyboard and touchpad – shades of Microsoft’s pioneering “convertible” tablet which long pre-dated iPads. The more business-minded Windows 8 Surface even packs a stylus for optional use – unlike ye old Windows convertibles which demanded stylus use (a major shortcoming.)
Getting revenge, both Surface tabs boast individual ports for HDMI, USB 2.0 (or 3.0 in the “Pro”) and MicroSD cards - among the biggest "wish-fors" ciited by users /abusers of iPads.
Microsoft will surely spend a bloody fortune to make consumers aware there’s more to a Surface than first meets the eye. Yet it clearly has its work cut out, to turn the tide from the category dominating iPads, as most sales-deprived makers of Android based tablets have already learned.
Maybe this time's the charm?