Microsoft Unveils Surface Tablets and Nifty Accessories

Microsoft Surface and CEO Steve Ballmer
Microsoft, Inc CEO Steve Ballmer was only one of Microsoft’s top executives present at the unveiling of the Surface tablets. Image:

Microsoft, Inc. went ahead yesterday and did what everyone expected them to do, announce their own tablet. Ever since details about Microsoft’s next version of Windows, named Windows 8, were leaked last year everyone assumed that Microsoft would launch a new tablet to go along with their new touch-friendly operating system.

At a last-minute press event in California late Monday afternoon Microsoft introduced the world to Microsoft Surface. No, not the large touchscreen display computing product that Microsoft introduced in 2007. Now Microsoft Surface is the product name for a 10.6-inch Windows 8 tablet PC. If you’re wondering what happened to the large touchscreen computing product it’s been renamed Microsoft PixelSense and Microsoft does intend to continue developing the product.

Just as they do with their operating systems Microsoft will offer their new Windows 8 tablet PC in different variants. The first variant is the Windows RT equipped Microsoft Surface tablet PC which features ARM processing chip support. As you would have guessed the other variant is designed for X86 processing chips, it will come with Windows 8 Pro for a more traditional computing experience from a program compatibility standpoint.

The full list of hardware specifications wasn’t revealed by Microsoft yesterday at their event, they only revealed as much as they had to at the time. However Microsoft’s executives and on-stage presenters did rattle off a few specifications for the Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro tablets. You can check out the known hardware specifications below:

ModelWindows RTWindows 8 Pro
Display10.6-inch ClearType HD capacitive touch LCD10.6-inch ClearType Full HD (1080p) capacitive touch LCD
CPUNVIDIA TegraIntel Core 3rd Gen. Ivy Bridge
Storage32GB or 64GB SSD64GB or 128GB SSD
I/OmicroSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD VideomicroSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort
Wireless2×2 MIMO antennae for Wi-Fi2×2 MIMO antennae for Wi-Fi
Weight676 g903 g
SoftwareWindows RT + Office Home & Student 2013 RTWindows 8 Pro
AccessoriesTouch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & StandTouch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand, Pen with Palm Block

Accessories For Surface

Microsoft didn’t just announce a new tablet yesterday they announced a new segment of devices, and as such they introduced some accessories that will work exclusively with the Surface tablets.

The first accessory to talk about is the Touch Cover, it snaps onto a Surface tablet to protect the screen when you’re not using the tablet. The Touch Cover latches onto a Surface tablet in a fashion similar to Apple’s Smart Cover, but that’s really where similarities stop for the accessories. With the Touch Cover you get a full QWERTY keyboard and a dedicated touchpad too. The keys on the keyboard don’t offer any real tactile feedback like a standard keyboard, just so you know. The Touch Cover is only 3 mm thick and will come in a lot of different colors (see photo on left) which include bright blue, bright pink and black.

Another accessory is the Type Cover which does what the Touch Cover does but with a more old-fashioned feel. The keys on the keyboard offer real feedback when you press down on them. The key design is different in general when compared to the Type Cover which has  spaced-out chiclet design for its keyboard, but with both the Type Cover and Touch Cover you get a full set of QWERTY keys. The added comfort of its tactile keyboard adds only a bit to the overall size of the Type Cover which measures 5 mm thick.

Besides keyboard covers the Microsoft Surface tablets will also get a kickstand that props the tablet up at a 22 degree angle. The 22 degree angle was chosen for its optimum display viewing angle. The Surface tablets will have webcams integrated and they will be designed to work at the 22 degree angle.

Exclusively for the Windows 8 Pro users Microsoft has a digital stylus and palm block. The digital stylus will offer Windows 8 Pro users digital ink abilities for more natural writing experience within Windows and programs like Photoshop which can leverage a digital stylus to its fullest potential. As for the palm block that’s about offering Windows 8 Pro users a more comfortable user experience when inking with their pen and Surface tablet.

Pricing and Availability

Do you want to know when you’ll be able to get pick-up a Microsoft Surface tablet and for how much? Well, so do I. Microsoft hasn’t announced a single price or release date for their Surface tablets. I could guess some prices, but that wouldn’t be what we both want.

For now the only thing left for you to check out is the snazzy commercial Microsoft had produced for their new Surface tablets.

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