The touchscreen tablets are expected to go on sale later this year, and there’s no price tag in sight – but at first blush Surface looks elegant, exciting and expensive.
Both Surface tablets sport a 10.6-inch high-def display and come with a USB port and microSD card slot so you can easily add accessories and boost storage capacity beyond the base-grade 32GB.
The killer feature is a unique Touch Cover which protects the screen but flips forward to double as a keyboard (complete with a trackpad).
“We designed this organically, like a book” says Panos Panay, leader of Microsoft’s Surface team and point man for the product, which will instantly be tagged as Microsoft’s iPad killer.The Surface tablet also includes a slim stylus for note-taking using digital ink, which Microsoft promises will be as smooth as writing on a page.
When tilted back the cover becomes an integrated kickstand so that the Surface can be used in ‘desktop mode’, leaning up and towards the user.You’ll then be able to hook up a conventional keyboard and mouse over USB and fire up an external screen through the video port.
The tablet itself is cast from light but durable magnesium-alloy.
The thinnest of the two Surface tablets will run Windows RT – a special lightweight version of Windows 8 designed for the same low-power ARM chips which power most tablets and smartphones.Although Windows RT can’t run your usual desktop or laptop apps, Surface will come with its own version of Microsoft Office 2013, while other Windows RT apps for Surface will be available through the Microsoft’s online Windows Store.
The Surface for Windows RT tablet will weigh in at a mere 676 grams and stand wafer-thin at 9.3mm around the waist – almost identical to Apple’s third-generation iPad – and be offered with 32GB or 64GB of storage.