Microsoft: You have my attention. The new Microsoft Surface tablet is actually a pretty cool device. I have been a big fan of Windows 8, except I feared that the interface wasn’t fit for a small smartphone screen and definitely not optimized for a laptop. Windows 8 is designed for tablets.I’m thrilled to see Microsoft finally building their own hardware.
There are 2 Microsoft tablets: a Windows RT ARM-chip version and a “professional” sibling sporting an Ivy Bridge i5 processor. The non-professional version is super thin (thinner than the new iPad) and the professional tablet is just slightly thicker at 13.5 mm. Both have a 10.6 inch high-definition screen comparable in pixel density to Apple’s Retina iPad screens. The Surface packs a full size USB port (USB 3.0 on the pro version) and 32 or 64 GB of memory for the RT version and 64 or 128 GB of storage on the professional tablet. The exterior casing is made of magnesium and Corning Gorilla Glass and even has a nifty kickstand.
While the specs on these two devices are right up there with Apple’s iPad, Windows 8 might be the deciding factor. Windows 8’s Metro user interface is really great; utilizing the edges of the tablet keeps tasks intuitively organized and enhances multitasking. The ability to run 2 apps next to each other is definitely one of my favorite features. Additionally, the real time, updating tile interface is a beautiful and stylish way to get all your info updated on your home screen. Windows 8 also has a desktop mode where older Windows software can run. This is a major plus for people who want the ability to run professional apps like Adobe Photoshop.
While the Surface has definitely caught my interest, my favorite announcement from Microsoft has to be the new magnetic cover for the tablet. It’s an extraordinarily thin
Apple smart cover cover that integrates a multitouch trackpad and keyboard right into the case. It’s very thin, colorful, useful, and the first product I hope Apple copies from Microsoft.
Now here’s where this impressive and potentially competitive tablet may fall short: price. Microsoft has not announced anything about the pricing of either tablets. If the RT flavor is within the magical $400-$550 tablet price point, it very well could be something to watch. If Microsoft expects people to pay “ultrabook prices” for this tablet, Apple’s reigning iPad has nothing to fear.
I’m looking forward to seeing these Surfaces hit the market with Windows 8’s release.
[Image via Microsoft]