New Tablets Surface at Microsoft
- Windows RT & 8 Pro Tablets
Microsoft Windows 8 Surface Tabs will initially be available in two versions — one running an RT version of Win 8 using ARM-based chips, and the other outfitted with an Intel Core processor for running Windows 8 Pro. Both versions of Surface will feature 10.6-inch HD displays and have front and rear cameras. Microsoft is positioning the Surface as a hybrid tablet/ultrabook.
- Windows RT Surface Tab
Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, which is expected to be released before Christmas, will come pre-installed with MS Office 15, allowing for writing and editing documents and making presentations. The Surface RT has 2 speakers and dual microphones plus microSD, USB 2.0 and Micro HDMI ports.
- Razor Thin Cover & Keypad
The Touch Cover for the Microsoft Surface Tab also serves as an ultra-thin (3 mm) full qwerty touch keyboard. the cover snaps into a magnetic latch on the tablet. Another cover (5 mm-thin), called the "Type Cover," provides tactile feedback and a multi-touch trackpad. The Touch Cover will be available in five different colors: white, black, red, cyan, and magenta.
- Integral Kickstand
Surface Tab's built-in kickstand allows transitioning the tablet from active use to passive consumption. The kickstand fits flush into the back of the tablet and disappears when not in use, adding no additional weight or thickness. Microsoft says the integral kickstand has been designed to provide the tactile and audible feedback similar to a door being opened and closed on a high-end automobile.
- VaporMG Casing
Microsoft Surface casing is made out of a material the company calls VaporMG ("Vapor Mag"). By using magnesium liquid metal, Microsoft says parts for its Surface Tablet can be molded as thin as .65mm, thinner than a credit card, however much lighter, stronger and more rigid.
The biggest Tablet News since the March release of the New iPad was last week’s unveiling of Surface, Microsoft’s own line of New Tablets based on Windows RT and Windows 8. Both Win 8 Tabs, introduced last week in Los Angeles, were designed and built by Microsoft itself. Price and release date for the new tablets are still question marks.
The Surface Pro and Surface RT versions look very similar, but there are key differences between the two. We’ll first discuss the RT and then point out some of the differences between it and the Microsoft Surface Pro.
Windows RT Surface Tab
As far as specs, the Windows RT Surface Tablet is powered by a yet-to-be-named ARM-based chipset. The new tablet weighs slightly less than 1.5 lbs (676 grams) and features a 10.6-inch, 16:9 ratio high definition screen display under Gorilla Glass II. Both USB 2.0 and HDMI-out ports are integrated into the side of the tablet’s thin 9.3-millimeter case. The magnesium case features a neat pullout kickstand that props up the device on a table or desk while using a keyboard or watching video.
The tablet’s case has a magnetized connector that holds a “Touch Cover” in place. This new, innovative tablet cover appears to be a winner – it’s only 3mm thick and serves double duty as a fully functional multi-touch keyboard and trackpad, The Touch Cover’s keyboard has touch-sensing keys that become inactive when the cover is closed. Also, there’s “Type Cover” as an alternative to the Touch Cover that’s a little thicker and features tactile keys that depress.
The MS Surface RT tab will be available with 32-gigabytes or 64-gigabytes of memory. This model appears to be geared for the consumer. It will come with Xbox Live as well as a native app for Netflix. The MS Surface RT will run Metro-style apps, engineered for Windows on ARM. According to Microsoft, its new Metro user interface and Windows 8 will provide the complete mobile solution for tablets. The new tablet will feature front- and rear-facing cameras optimized for Skype, which is owned by Microsoft.
MS Surface Pro Tab
The Windows 8 Pro MS Surface Tablet (or MS Surface Pro) is powered by an i5 processor from Intel. The tablet is a little heavier (903 grams vs 676 grams) and slightly thicker (13.5mm) than the ARM Surface model. Also, its magnesium case features an innovative active vented cooling system to keep help cool the processor. With the Pro version, buyers will have a choice of 64 and 128 gigabytes of memory.
Microsoft seems to be positioning the Surface Pro as an enterprise-grade tablet that doubles as an ultrabook. Using the Intel processor, the Surface Pro will be able to run traditional Windows programs. The Pro’s screen resolution ( 1920×1080 ) is also better than the RT’s, although only cryptic details have emerged
on the RT’s screen resolution so far. There is also better peripheral support with the Pro version – USB 3.0 versus 2.0, DisplayPort, as well as SDXC expansion slot. The Pro tablet will also come with a stylus and a cover that reads writing with pen input and digital ink, sampled at 600 dpi.
Although there is much to appreciate about Microsoft’s new Surface tablets, it’s far too early for any definitive conclusion about the two upcoming mobile devices. The tablets are currently in prototype form only. There’s still no definitive information regarding pricing, battery life, processor speed, etc., and reports are coming in that the Surface will be WiFi only (disheartening if true). Microsoft says the Surface RT tablet will come out around the time Windows 8 ships (which is expected in the fall) and the Pro version will come out three months after that.
Microsoft says pricing for Surface for Windows RT will be similar to ARM-based tablets and the Pro version will be priced similar to ultrabooks.
Another question is how the OEMs and Microsoft Partners will ultimately respond to Microsoft building its own hardware. Prior to Microsoft’s announcement, At least 12 OEMs had been expected to come out with their own Win 8 Tablets.
Initial assessments of Microsoft Surface have been mixed. For example, PCWorld’s Ian Paul says early impressions of the tablet are generally positive, but we’ll have to “wait a few months yet to find out if the company’s promises will meet consumer expectations.” ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, however, says he fully expects Surface tablets to make his end-of-year round-up of “tech flops”.
With so many unanswered questions and potentially 4-5 months to go before the RT version comes out, this upcoming new tablet from Microsoft already has “Saga” written all over it. Stay tuned.
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