Posted by:Shyam Sundar July 17th, 2012

The tablet arena will no longer be the almost exclusive realm of iPad with Microsoft Surface joining the fray. Microsoft kept pretty cagey about its Surface tablet. When it invited the press to a conference in Los Angeles on June 19, 2012, not many knew what was in store – the leading OS provider unveiling its first tablet with Windows 8 on board.

Does Microsoft Surface have the gumption to beat the iPad? We don’t know yet but the possibility exists. Let’s discuss the features of Microsoft Surface, at least what are known. Unfortunately, we don’t have information on pricing or exact availability yet.

Microsoft Surface – Impressive features

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Microsoft is planning two versions of its pioneering tablet – Microsoft Surface RT and Microsoft Surface Pro. The first model will include the Metro interface of Windows 8 while the second will include the complete Windows 8 – metro and desktop. Surface RT could make an appearance this fall with Windows 8 while the Pro version will take a few more months, possibly the first half of 2013.

The RT version of Surface is slim at 9.3mm while the Pro version is thicker at 13.5mm. Both include a display of 10.6inches for true 16:9 aspect ratio HD display. Though Microsoft did not specify resolution, reviews put it at least 1280×720 pixels (720p HD) for RT and 1920×1080 pixels (1080p) for Surface Pro.

Other known specifications include:

  • NVIDIA ARM CPU for RT, Intel third-generation Core i CPU for Pro
  • USB 2.0 port for RT, USB 3.0 port for Pro
  • 32GB/64GB internal storage for RT, 64GB/128GB for Pro
  • microSD, micro-HD video, 2×2 MIMO antennas for RT, microSDXC and Mini DisplayPort video for Pro
  • front and rear facing HD cameras
  • scratchproof and wear resistant magnesium alloy back
  • sturdy and seamless kick stand to prop the tab laptop style
  • 676g weight for RT, 903g for Pro
  • 31.5 Watt battery for RT, 42 Watt for Pro
  • Type Cover with mechanical keys and a multi-touch clickpad
  • Touch Cover (3mm thick) in attractive shades with flat, pressure-sensitive keys
Both the covers align with the tablet with magnetic hinges. They are a better fit than Smart Cover which can get slippery.

Other features that Microsoft emphasized on during the conference and in later sessions are:

  • Digital inking: Surface Pro will come with a stylus that can be used to write or draw on the screen with extreme precision that’s obvious even on zooming in. This is because of optical bonding and the 600dpi sampling rate the screen records at.
  • Optical bonding: Optical bonding is a relatively expensive technology that makes text look clearer, reduces glare and improves contrast. In Microsoft Surface, there are no layers between the Gorilla Glass 2.0 and the display, with only 0.7mm separating the stylus from the actual rendering of the ink.
  • Palm block tech: Microsoft Surface uses separate digitizers for touch and the stylus. If the stylus is close to the screen, Surface detects it and disables the touch sensor so you don’t cause smudges with your palm when you’re handling the stylus on the screen.
  • VaporMg: This is the process used to build Surface. Apparently, it allows Microsoft to melt metal to form 0.65mm thick sheets to form parts. That’s how the layering of components within the tab is so efficient.
Hopefully, we’ll see and hear more about Microsoft Surface in coming days. Reviewers observe that Microsoft has put a lot of thought into the design and interface of the tablet – a positive sign. Meanwhile, Microsoft is looking at building a strong mobile application base for Surface.

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