We decided years ago that Microsoft wasn’t as evil as certain people made out, and in fact, occasionally turned out some pretty good work (we expect this statement to significantly elevate morale at the software giant’s Redmond HQ). What we really like is its newly announced tablet, called Surface – a slim and impressively equipped device that’s destined to shake up this hugely competitive market sector. However, much will depend on pricing; we’re told only that it will be “competitive”.
Microsoft makes the point that the Surface was conceived, designed and engineered entirely by its own employees, and based on what we’ve heard, it has done an excellent job. First up – a full-sized USB port and a 16:9 aspect ratio, the industry standard for HD. The tablet’s casing is created using an approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mould metal and deposit particles that creates a finish like a luxury watch’s. This has allowed the integration of a super-thin kickstand that lets you switch from active use to passive consumption, perhaps while watching a movie or using the HD front- or rear-facing video cameras.
You also get a 3 mm Touch Cover (available in a variety of cheerful colours) that uses a clever pressure-sensitive technology to sense keystrokes as gestures, enabling you to touch-type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard. The cover clicks into the Surface via a built-in magnetic connector, forming a natural spine similar to one you’d find on a book. Alternatively, you can click in a 5 mm-thick Type Cover that adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.
The Surface will be available in two versions, one running an ARM processor with Windows RT, and the other featuring a third-generation Intel Core processor with Windows 8 Pro. According to Microsoft, Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later.
Pricing and availability in South Africa have not yet been announced.