Microsoft Surface Tablet

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Just when you thought the tablet market couldn’t get any more crowded, here comes Microsoft with yet another tablet PC.  So if you have been wondering and waiting for Microsoft to throw its hat in the ring of tablet computing, your wait is over, the “Microsoft Surface Tablet” is here.

But the real question is… Is this a real contender, able to take on the likes of Apple iPad 4 and Google Nexus 10, or just another pretender in a sea of “iPad wannabes”.

The Surface Comes In Two Versions

The first version, which I will call “Windows Surface RT” comes with the Windows RT operating system.  This OS was designed by Microsoft to run on mobile devices. It uses ARM architecture, which is basically a computer processor that powers tablets, smartphones and many other embedded devices. Also Windows RT has been slightly scaled down and will not include some products we’ve come to expect in a Windows OS, such as Media, Player. The Surface RT will also, run a special version of Microsoft Office as opposed to the basic desktop version. But on the plus side of things it will run all of the applications available in the Windows Store.

The second Windows tablet is called “Windows Surface Pro”, it comes with the Windows 8 Pro operating system, Microsoft’s newest desktop OS. The Surface Pro, will be available on February 9, 2013. This version of the tablet will run on an Intel-based platform and will be capable of running the same third-party software that’s used on desktops and laptops (i.e. the full version Microsoft Office 2013), as well as software that can be obtained from the Microsoft Store.

The Hardware (Under the Hood)

Overall, from a hardware perspective, the Microsoft Surface boasts a unique and distinctive design.  The Surface is built with superb quality and comes in a black matted finish that feels great in the hands. The Surface shows no signs of corners being cut during construction and users will love the anti-fingerprint coating that prevents marks and smudges after extensive touching.

The Surface RT runs on an ARM-based quad core CPU, while the Windows 8 Surface Pro version is powered by the Intel dual-core 1.7 GHz Intel i5 processor (Code Name: Ivy Bridge). The Surface RT comes with 32 and 64 gigabytes of storage, the Pro version, has 64 and 128 gigabytes respectively.  One source of criticism, however, is that the amount of useable storage is considerably less for each tablet. For instance, the base model of the Surface RT states that it comes with 32 GB, but only 16 GB is available for use.  The difference is due to storage of the operating system files, built in apps and the fact that the Surface tablet contains a disk recovery image built into the storage on a separate partition.

Also included on both models, is a Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXD) expansion slot.  Another nice feature is Microsoft’s ClearType Full-HD display technology with support for ultra-wide viewing angles and auto-adjusting screen intensity.  See the chart below for more specs.

Surface Tablet Specifications

Microsoft Surface Tablet Specs

Click to Enlarge


Other Features on the Microsoft Surface Tablet

One of the sleek features is the surprisingly light Touch Cover keyboard which allows a user the ability to use the Surface as a tablet or laptop. It may take users some time to get use to this type of keyboard. While the click sound is very useful in denoting a successful key press, it can be quite annoying for anyone sitting near you. Believe me when I say that it is annoying, because I have firsthand knowledge of this annoyance.

My Personal Thoughts About the Surface Tablet

The Microsoft Surface is a superbly built tablet with a unique aesthetic design that is outright noticeable compared to other tablets in the market. It is a thin and wide tablet with a 16:9 aspect ratio, compared to the 16:10 aspect ratio on most Android tablets or the 4:3 aspect ratio on the iPad. With such a wide screen, the Surface has a resolution that rivals laptops. This makes multitasking apps much easier.

For the record, I think the Surface tablet will be more at home in the corporate office, than in the hands of the home user. This brings me to the conclusion that Microsoft is really trying to position the Surface for business use, especially as we begin to see more and more companies implement “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies.   Just my thoughts.

A few other MS Surface hardware features worth mentioning, are:

  • Bluetooth 4.0 Technology
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Front and Rear-Facing  Cameras 720p HD, 1.2 MP
  • USB 2.0 and 3.0 support
  • An optional touch-cover keyboard that doubles as a cover
  • Built-in kickstand to elevate the tablet during use.

Pricing of the Surface RT and Pro

The Windows RT version of the Surface will cost $499 and the Microsoft Surface Pro that runs Windows 8 Pro will debut on February 9th at a cost of about $899.  At the prices, they are selling for, neither is being given away and only time will tell whether they are bargains or over-priced iPad wannabe.

Also Worth Reading

An Overview of Microsoft Windows 8

Will Tablet PC’s Replace the Desktop Computer?

Microsoft Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Full Specifications of the Microsoft Surface Tablet

Microsoft Surface AMA (Ask Me Anything) Forum

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