"Something new, something different, it's a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft."
Steve Ballmer today at Microsoft's secret product announcement in Los Angeles, introducing the Surface tablet -- the company's latest arsenal in its Windows 8 onslaught. Designed from the ground up to marry hardware and software in one harmonious package (much like a fruity tech company we all know), Surface is Microsoft's way of introducing two very distinctive flavors of Windows 8 in one very appealing form factor. The new Surface tablet comes in two editions -- one for Windows RT, the version built for ARM processors, and one for full-fat Windows 8 (Pro edition, in this instance), built for traditional x86 processors.
Both Surface tablets will feature a slender magnesium construction (labelled VaporMg), weighing under 680 grams on the RT model and just over 900 for the Pro version. Waistlines are kept in check at 9.3mm and 13.5mm (RT and Pro), but Microsoft still found room to include an integrated kickstand that allows for the Surface to be propped up in landscape mode. Measuring just 0.7mm (about the same thickness as a credit card) ensures the kickstand remains flush with the rest of the tablet casing.
The display is a 10.6-inch optically-bonded, ClearType display with an aspect ratio of 16:9 and wide viewing angles, all coated in Corning's gorilla Glass 2 for added resilience. Curiously, while the Windows 8 Pro Surface will enjoy a Full HD 1080p resolution, Microsoft has confirmed the RT model will not be Full HD, instead using a lesser resolution (possibly as low as 1366x768).There's also a micro-SD slot, micro HDMI and a full-size USB port on board, as well as front and rear HD cameras and 2x2 MIMO WiFi antennas.
As for the units' insides, Microsoft was rather more secretive, only confirming the ARM interior of the RT Surface is made by NVIDIA (widely rumored to be the Tegra 3 SoC), while an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor is in the Windows 8 Pro model.
Also on display were two covers for the tablets, the Touch Cover and the Type Cover. Both feature a magnetic clip and full-size keyboard, the former being a multi-touch affair and the latter featuring actual keys, as well as trackpads and accelerometers.
Microsoft failed to talk exact pricing and availability, but did confirm the Surface for Windows RT would launch in the Fall, and the Surface for Windows 8 Pro would follow 3 months later. Pricing will be "competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC for the RT and Pro, respectively.
A breakdown of features between the two versions is included below:
Surface for Windows RT
OS: Windows RT
Light: 676 g
Thin: 9.3 mm
Clear: 10.6” ClearType HD Display
Energized: 31.5 W-h
Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Mi cro HD Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
Productive: Office ‘15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover
Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand
Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB
Surface for Windows 8 Pro
OS: Windows 8 Pro
Light: 903 g
Thin: 13.5 mm
Clear: 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display
Energized: 42 W-h
Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand
Configurable: 64 GB, 128 GB
Full press release here.
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