The technological world has a few corporations that enjoy superpower status, setting trends and developing cutting-edge new devices. Microsoft has long been associated with top notch software programs running on personal computers and laptops around the world. In recent years Apple Inc. has established itself as the top-dog when it comes to new devices that change the market. First we saw the iPhone, now we have the iPad. Microsoft finally appears ready to meet Apple’s challenge head on with its new Surface tablet. Will it measure up?
The Surface was just unveiled on Monday, meaning there are still a lot of questions surrounding the yet to be released tablet. The hard facts that are so far known about the Surface are promising. Microsoft is diving head first into the tablet marketplace with two different models and a variety of additional options for the Surface.
First, Microsoft will launch the Surface RT. This tablet will run a so-called “light” version of Microsoft’s next generation operating system, Windows 8. The new operating system and the Surface RT will launch simultaneously this fall, though no specific date has been set for the release of either. Other details of the RT include:
- 9.3 mm thin
- 2 full-size USB 2.0 ports
- Micro SD port
- Micro HD video port
- 32 GB or 64 GB hard drive
Within three months of launching Surface RT and Windows 8, Microsoft will launch the second version of the tablet. A beefed up Surface tablet, entitled the Surface Pro, will act more like a computer than a tablet and run on a more robust operating system known as Windows 8 Pro. Additional add-ons seen on the Pro include:
- 13.5 mm thin
- 2 full-size USB 2.0 ports
- Micro SDXC port
- Mini Display Port Video
- 64 GB or 128 GB hard drive
- Stylus pen
Aside from the above details, which are specific to either version, there are a few other known details about Surface right now that apply to both devices. Both versions of the tablet include features such as 2×2 MIMO antennae, screens constructed with Gorilla Glass and featuring 10.6-inch, 16:9 widescreen HD display.
Microsoft was not clear about the resolution of those HD screens on the Surface tablets. The only mention of resolution at Microsoft’s unveiling on Monday was that the RT would feature “HD” and the Pro will feature “full HD”. Comments such as these leave the door open to speculation, with many assuming the RT will feature 720p HD, while the Pro will feature full 1080p HD.
Both devices come with a built-in kickstand that takes up roughly the bottom third of the back cover on the device. Those who got a sneak peak hands-on opportunity with Surface on Monday raved about the strength and construction of the kickstand. While many competitors on the market have bulky or clumsy kickstands, the Surface has a kickstand that is seamlessly integrated into its full magnesium case.
One of the top features that could make the Surface a game change is its Touch Cover. Like Apple’s Smart Cover for the iPad, the Touch Cover attaches to the device by magnets. Unlike the Smart Cover, Microsoft’s Touch Cover unveils a fully-functional keyboard with two-button touchpad and trackpad.
Microsoft developed two different Touch Covers for the surface. One cover is specifically entitled the Touch Cover with the keys on the keypad mimicking the feel and responsiveness of touchscreen keys. Unlike a traditional keyboard, there is no tactile response from each keystroke and the keys are not physically depressed when stroked. Microsoft did confirm there is an audible “click” from the tablet when keystrokes are entered, offering a form of feedback while typing.
The other cover is labeled the Type Cover and has a more traditional feel to the keys, offering key travel of 1.5 mm allowing for actual depression of the keys while typing. The biggest difference on the Type Cover is that users will be able to rest their fingers on the home keys while typing without it being interpreted as a keystroke.
Microsoft’s announcement of the Surface tablet was long on promises, and short on details. While many of the technological specifications and sneak peeks at new hardware were offered up, other critical details were left out. There is no known release date for either device, and when asked about pricing Microsoft commented that Surface would be “competitively priced.”
There is a lot of potential in the Surface tablets, and the likelihood that Surface could pose a sincere threat to iPad’s dominance. Until the Surface is actually released and details on its performance become more widely known, Google-Android powered tablet makers should be more nervous than Apple.
Guest post contributed by Samantha Harvey, a freelance mobile technology writer who currently writes for a popular sim only provider.