After years of rumours and speculation, Microsoft has finally unveiled its tablet computer. It’s called Surface, borrowing its name from Microsoft’s touch-based, coffee table-sized computer.
The biggest innovation that the device has to offer is the super thin VaporMg Case and Stand, which doubles as a keyboard plus trackpad. Unlike the iPad, this means users will almost always have access to a conventional keyboard, so you won’t have to rely on the touchscreen if that’s not how you roll. You can also use a stylus pen on the screen, or good ol’ fashioned meat hooks.
Users will have two main versions of the device; one that runs the Windows RT operating system custom built for tablets, and a fancier version that comes with the full Windows 8 Pro OS designed for desktop computers. The first version will come in a 32GB and 64GB model, while the second comes in 64GB and 128GB. All of them will have a 10.6 inch display and a USB port. As for video out, the high-end version comes with a Mini DisplayPort, while the cheaper version offers a Micro HD video port. Unlike most devices that run Windows software, the Surface is actually being built by Microsoft instead of third-parties like Samsung or HP.
Gamers will eventually be able to use the device as a second screen for the Xbox 360 thanks to the new SmartGlass technology unveiled at E3 earlier this month. It’s unclear if the tablet will run any Xbox Live games natively like some Windows Phone 7 devices, but given the success of Apple’s App Store, it seems like a no brainer. Since it runs Windows 8, you will be able to play full PC games like Civilization V.
Surface is expected to hit store shelves with the release of Windows 8 this fall, although a firm date and price have not been named.