Microsoft Shakes Up Tablet Market With Surface

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News Posted: Mon, Jun 18 2012 8:45 PM
At this evening’s much-ballyhooed press event, Microsoft--yes, stodgy old Microsoft--just shook up the whole tablet market with the introduction of an innovative new tablet called the Microsoft Surface, which of course runs Windows 8.

Aside from the fact that Microsoft delving into the hardware business on the tablet side of things is a huge deal in and of itself, the Surface doesn’t look to be an also-ran tablet. The thing is intriguing.

The feature that most differentiates Surface from other tablets is the cover, which is called the Surface Touch Cover. Like a certain competitor’s tablet cover, this one snaps on with magnets. Quite unlike the iPad, the cover doubles as a full keyboard.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer with the Microsoft Surface (Image credit: Engadget)

The keyboard portion is just 3mm thick and features left and right buttons with a trackpad, Windows buttons, keys with 1.5mm of travel, and an accelerometer. It’s also built with palm rejection, so you can lay your hands on it and still type with with your fingers without any confusion on the machine’s part. The tablet stays up thanks to a super-slim (.7mm) kickstand in the back that folds as seamlessly as possible into the back of the tablet. The keyboard also features color syncing, so users can personalize it with different glowing colors.

The Surface will come in both NVIDIA ARM- and Intel-based flavors (Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro, respectively); the version Microsoft demoed onstage had a Core i5 (Ivy Bridge) chip inside.

It appears as though there are still some specs to be released, but we do know that the Windows RT version will be 9.3mm thick, weigh 676g, and come in 32GB and 64GB versions. It will have microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD video, and 2x2 MIMO antennae and come with Office Home & Student 2013.

Slightly chunkier at 13.5mm, the Windows 8 Pro version will weigh in at 903g and feature microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort video, and the same 2x2 MIMO antennae in addition to the Pen (with Palm Block) input feature. It will be available in 64GB and 128GB models.

Both versions of the Surface will come with the magical and revolutionary cover/keyboard/trackpad and boast 10.6-inch ClearType HD displays (the Windows Pro 8 will be full HD), which are built from Corning Gorilla Glass 2.

Other features include dual mics and stereo speakers, front and rear cameras, access to Windows apps, and support for digital ink, so users can, for example, mark up a PDF with the Pro’s Pen. The bodies of the tablets are full magnesium “VaporMg” chassis that include active cooling via perimeter vents that are designed in such a way that your hands won’t block them.

The Windows RT models will land when Windows 8 launches later this year, and the Windows 8 Pro versions will be available about three months after that. Prices for the RT and Pro versions will be comparable to those of other ARM-based tablets and ultrabooks, respectively.

Hey, did Microsoft just become a vertical-market company?
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CDeeter replied on Mon, Jun 18 2012 11:38 PM

Oooo nice. Liking the cover/keyboard feature, elegantly done MS.

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No. Nonono. What? No. What differentiates this machine is that it has a multi-device full-function operating system capable of not only content consumption, but content creation, device integration, and running existing legacy/desktop applications. That's why this is big. It's the do-everything device.

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DSheridan replied on Tue, Jun 19 2012 5:59 AM

nERVEcenter gets it. Nothing in the tablet market for content creators. Lots of us know what we need in a tablet to really replace a laptop for a range of business applications and locations, and nothing for us so far. Retina displays are nice, but don't make me more creative or productive.

I think I already want one of the Win 8 machines.

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wil2200 replied on Tue, Jun 19 2012 7:40 AM

Bring something with an AMD chipset and I am definitely in the market for one

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CDeeter replied on Tue, Jun 19 2012 8:18 AM

Second this.

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CDeeter replied on Tue, Jun 19 2012 8:34 AM

And that was exactly my point, are you going to be doing those things on a virtual keyboard? No, I don't think so. Besides the fact that virtual keyboards suck, they hog up too much screen real estate. The cover/ keyboard solves this rather elegantly by not requiring you to carry along a separate dock. Simply open the cover pop out the kickstand and you're ready to go.

As for your other points, well yeah, it's Microsoft, it what they do.

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rapid1 replied on Tue, Jun 19 2012 9:33 AM

This is a very nice device all around. Seemingly it has it all and is super minimal and therefore easy to transport. I look at this and then at the Samsung Galaxy note with it's pen interface as well and see the future, of course born off of everything coming up to now. Technology as I know everyone here knows is just randomly shifting now from form to form and it all moves so fast it is almost blinding really, Either way this device specifically seems to be or will be the start of throw away computers for the general population.

I love all the things M$ has shoved into this as well. The magnetic keyboard interface etc is awesome. Wish we new a price or at least a spectrum. Either way this type of device I imagine in a year or two max will be what kids carry to school and it is warranted as well. You will be able to do everything with something like this in a school setting period especially with a class room and home network data center for a student. You could also use something like this linked to the cloud through the included office 2013 for anything anywhere with anyone period.

Either way well done M$ on something that will make WIN8 relevant as well. I know personally Win7 is the new XP for me and will be on my desktop for quite some time and most likely my laptop as well. However; if M$ prices these right they will replace both, and will take care of upgrading me and many more I would think to WIN8, on top of that it will stick everyone in M$'s cloud rather than in Google's or at least do both in a single event.

" I remember when Microsoft made the computer a everywhere everything device before you were born sonny. Of course computers were already everywhere, but they made them all encompassing with one device I remember the day back in 2012! " LOL

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Jun 20 2012 9:26 AM

It's a laptop with a floppy keyboard that you can't actually use in your lap.  :\ 

Without battery life or any pricing, it's hard to get excited about this new revision of the Slate.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?


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