Apparently much of the speculation was on the ball with today’s big Microsoft reveal. We’re finally looking at a Microsoft-made competitor for the iPad and initial impressions are favorable.
The Surface, as it is known, will be available in both Windows RT and Windows 8 models. Ideally, it will work as a complete netbook replacement thanks to a number of features including a cover / interface device that allows users to have access to a physical keyboard whenever it is desired. Here’s the breakdown, straight from Microsoft:
|OS||Windows RT||Windows 8|
|Display Size||10.6” Cleartype HD Display||10.6” Cleartype Full HD Dislay|
|Connectivity||microSD, USB2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae||microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae|
|Case||VaporMg Case & Stand||VaporMg Case & Stand|
|Storage||32GB, 64GB||64GB, 128GB|
|Productivity||Office Home & Student 2013 RT, Touch Cover, Type Cover||Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block|
At this point we don’t have any solid information about prices. The presentation included a mention that the Windows RT Surface will be priced comparably to existing ARM tablets while the Windows 8 Pro Surface will be comparable in price to Ultrabooks.
Microsoft appears to have put a lot of emphasis on design in these tablets. The Surface is being billed as “the first PC with a full magnesium case.” Essentially scratchproof and quite durable. A kickstand of sorts is built into the back of the casing, making it much easier to use as either a laptop analogue or a media-viewing console. This does not seem to significantly affect the smooth flow of the casing.
Interfacing with the tablet should be a pleasure. The screen makes use of Gorilla Glass, much like the Kindle Fire from Amazon, and will not scratch without serious effort to make it happen. You can use touch, which is nice, but also a stylus. The Surface features two digitizers, one for each input type, and when a stylus is in use will cut off the touch interface so that you can hold it or rest your hand however you’d like while writing.
The Touch Cover will be included with every Surface sold and comes in several colors. It adds about 3mm to the thickness of the device and integrates both a physical keyboard and a touchpad. This addition, especially when used with the built-in stand, means that you can use the Microsoft Surface as a replacement for your portable computer in most situations.
You’ll be able to get your hands on the Windows RT Surface around the time that Windows 8 is released. The Surface for Windows 8 is set to follow about three months later.
In a lot of ways, this device might be exactly what Windows 8 is all about. It integrates touch, type, mouse, and stylus into one device and is well enough designed to use any of them effectively when the occasion calls for it. We will update as more information becomes available about hands-on performance testing and such, but the iPad might just be in trouble.