Microsoft Surface is here, and this time it’s not a table. The software giant has unveiled its first major stab at hardware since the ill-fated Courier, and its best hope in the tablet war to date. Instead of waiting for its manufacturing partners to provide the goods, it’s launched a Windows 8-powered tablet of it very own. Microsoft Surface, you say? Here’s why you want one…

Microsoft Surface: Display

There are two models in the Microsoft Surface tablet range. The Surface RT is the standard issue model, while the Pro is more, you know… Professional. Both models, however, feature the same 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display in a widescreen aspect ratio. That’s made of Gorilla Glass, too, hopefully making it a bit bounce-proof. The resolution’s not quite Retina Display standard, being 1,366 x 768 pixels.

Microsoft Surface: Build

Both the Surface RT and Surface Pro are hewn from magnesium, with a VaporMg finish – a “first of its kind” scratch resistant outer layer. Both have a kick-out stand to help the Surface stay upright on a desk unaided, too. In terms of ports, the RT boasts a microSD input, USB 2.0 and Micro HD Video. The Surface Pro ups that to a microSDXC, two USB 3.0 ports and Mini DisplayPort Video.

Size and weight? The RT is impressively thin: Just 9.3mm to the iPad’s 9.4mm. It’s slightly heavier, though: 676g to the iPad’s 652g. The Pro, for its extra niceties, is a bigger beast: 903g and 13.5mm. There’s also a pair of cameras on both devices. The rear one is angled to allow video recording while it’s stood on the desk, while the front webcam is nestled in with dual microphones tuned for Skype.

Microsoft Surface: Specs

Inside, the Surface is something of a mystery. Microsoft’s announced that the RT has an NVIDIA Tegra processor, although it’s not announced exactly which processor this is. We’d expect that that means quad-core, but it’s all a bit up in the air at the moment. The Pro will sport an Ivy Bridge number, with Microsoft claiming it’ll be comparable to an Ultrabook in terms of performance. What we do know is what storage you’ll get: 32 and 64GB of storage in the Surface RT and 64 or 128GB in the Pro.

Microsoft Surface: Software

Unsurprisingly, the Surface tablets run on Windows 8. At last night’s launch event, Steve Balmer remained relatively quiet on the subject of developer support. Windows 8 as a whole platform is always going to benefit from a healthy range of apps, but it would have been nice to see a few tablet-focused exclusives announced. As it is, we know that both tablets will run Microsoft Office 2013 at launch.

Microsoft Surface: Keyboards / Accessories

This is the killer feature. Microsoft’s taken the iPad Smart Cover idea and super-charged it by adding a keyboard. There are two such covers – Touch and Type – and both snap into place magnetically. The Touch cover has a built-in touch-sensitive keyboard, yet somehow keeps the thickness down to just 3mm. The Type keyboard boasts a tactile, standard keyboard and trackpad, but it’s slightly thicker to allow for keys with 1.5mm of travel.

Microsoft Surface: Colours

Bit interesting, this: Microsoft Surface RT comes in black, while the Pro comes in a more silvery hue. The Touch and Type covers, however, are available in a range of bright colours. And most of them are Nokia colours. On the Surface website, five keyboard covers are shown – black, red, white, pink and cyan. The latter three are pretty identical to the colours found in Nokia’s Lumia Windows Phone handsets. Does this hint at future Nokia tablets that are compatible with Microsoft’s covers?

Microsoft Surface: Launch and price

Microsoft’s event last night was merely to announce the Surface tablets. No official launch date has been announced, but the consensus is that we’re looking at an October release. It’s a similar situation for the price, but we’d expect around £400 for the RT to help it combat the iPad, while something touching Ultrabook prices is likely for the Pro.

Is this the Microsoft tablet you’ve been waiting for? Let us know your thoughts below…

  • Fsdg

    Pretty cool… ipad killer, not sure… but definately a better alternative than the Playbook.

  • Tech

    Looks awesome and slick – was going to get the new Ipad, but have been convinced to now wait for this. Love the Keyboard .

  • Rufus Pearce

    This suffers from the same problems as all other tablets suffer from – No removable battery means a lifespan of only 2 or so years, and consumers will be pissed because they won’t understaqnd the difference between the crippled ‘RT’ version and Windows 8 Proper.

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