Microsoft introduced its own line of tablet computers on Monday at a much-hyped press event in Los Angeles, marking a strategic shift as it struggles to compete with Apple.
Microsoft executives showed two Windows tablets and accessories that feature advances in industrial design and attention to detail.
The new Surface tablet line includes a consumer device aimed directly at the Apple iPad, and another, larger device designed to compete with lightweight laptops. Both include a keyboard that doubles as a cover, and both will be powered by versions of the new Windows 8 operating system.
Surface sports a full-sized USB port and a 16:9 aspect ratio. It has edges angled at 22 degrees, a natural position for the PC at rest or in active use.
The casing of Surface is created using an approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid.
The VaporMg approach also enables a built-in kickstand that lets you transition Surface from active use to passive consumption - watching a movie or even using the HD front- or rear-facing video cameras.
Using a pressure-sensitive technology, the 3 mm Touch Cover senses keystrokes as gestures, enabling you to touch type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard. It will be available in a selection of colors. Touch Cover clicks into Surface via a built-in magnetic connector, forming a natural spine like you find on a book, and works as a protective cover. You can also click in a 5 mm-thin Type Cover that adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.
Two models of Surface will be available: one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT, and one with a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro.
The lighter version of the Surface tablet, built on an Nvidia chip designed by ARM, will feature Microsoft's popular Office suite of applications. It is comparable to Apple's new iPad, heavier but slightly thinner. It has a 10.6 inch screen and comes in 32GB and 64GB memory sizes.
The second, heavier tablet aimed at ultrabooks, running on Intel chips, will come in 64GB and 128GB models.
Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later.
Both will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores.
Surface for Windows RT
- OS: Windows RT
- Weight: 676 g
- Thin: 9.3 mm
- Display: 10.6 ClearType HD Display
- Power consumption: 31.5 W-h
Connectivity : microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
- Productivity: Office '15' Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover
- VaporMg Case & Stand
- Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB
Surface for Windows 8 Pro
- OS: Windows 8 Pro
- Weight: 903 g
- Thin: 13.5 mm
- Display: 10.6" ClearType Full HD Display
- Power consumption: 42 W-h
- Connectivity: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
- Productivity: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
- VaporMg Case & Stand
- Configurable: 64 GB, 128 GB
Microsoft did not give suggested retail pricing for the new devices, but said they will be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC.