On Monday, June 18, Microsoft had a very hushed, short noticed press event in Los Angeles, where they announced the Microsoft Surface – a 10.6 inch tablet running Windows 8. There will be two versions of the tablet – Microsoft Surface, and the Microsoft Surface Pro. The Microsoft Surface will run Windows 8 RT, and will run on Nvidea ARM chip. This means it will not be able to run traditional window applications. It is intended for more leisurely use whilst still being able to run productivity applications such as Office. On the other hand, The Microsoft Surface Pro will run Windows 8, and will run on an Intel chip. Because of the Intel chip, it would be able to run legacy Windows applications as well. The Surface Pro is intended to have capabilities parallel to ultrabooks in the market currently.
The Surface is made from liquid magnesium; a technology Microsoft has named VaporMg – pronounced Vapor Mag, for magnesium. Microsoft claims this allows the Surface to be lightweight, permanently scratch and dent resistant, as well as be very durable. Microsoft also says that it has integrated two Wifi receivers to the top of the Surface to make it a device with the best Wifi reception. The Surface RT is 9.6mm thick, and 13mm thick with the touch cover. The Surface Pro is approximately 13 mm thick, and with the Type cover, makes it less than 2cm in total. More details of the specs can be found on the new Surface website, and the keynote announcement is below:
Most tablets announce nowadays are frequently compared to the Apple iPad, and no doubt the Surface will also be compared. However Microsoft really worked hard to innovate and polish the design to stand out from existing tablets.
One of the most innovative features is the Cover– a tablet cover that also doubles as a keyboard, a seemingly obvious design idea but very innovative. There are two versions of the cover. One of the covers is the Touch Cover, which puts a full QWERTY keyboard and track pad onto a solid 3mm pressure sensitive cover. The other cover is the Type Cover – which also puts a full Qwerty keyboard and track pad, but each key can be physically touched and pressed down. There is a wide range of colours available. Although no one outside Microsoft have tested the keyboards, Microsoft officials claim to be able to get over 60 words per minute on the keyboard. I personally think it is an ingenious idea of Microsoft to do more on the cover, making it more valuable and simpler for users to be productive on a device type that traditionally only consumes.
The other innovative feature is the integrated kickstand. Whilst many smartphones now have integrated kickstands to allow video watching on the small screen, tablets tend to rely on cases to standup, despite being even more suitable to watch videos on. With the integrated kickstand, Microsoft makes entertainment consumption even easier on the Windows 8. The surface is also designed around the angle 22º, with edges kickstands and even cameras angled to make it simpler for users.
Although Microsoft has yet to announce a precise price, it has mentioned that the Surface will be price-competitive with other tablets running on ARM (such as the Apple iPad) and the Surface Pro will be price-competitive with ultrabooks at the time it is released. The Surface RT would be available on the same day as the general availability of Windows 8, with the Surface Pro arriving another 3 months afterwards.
Are you as inspired by the Microsoft Surface as I am? Comment below or email at Janice@plomonet.com