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“…Microsoft Surface tablet runs Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT
There will be two Surface models, one running Windows 8 Pro and one running Windows RT. The Surface RT processor will be an ARM one and the Surface Pro processor will be Intel. The Pro model will be more powerful, with a higher resolution and a slightly chunkier case.
The Microsoft Surface specifications are quite nifty
The Windows RT model weighs 676g, is 9.3mm thin and comes with what Microsoft calls a 10.6″, 16:9 ClearType HD display. The battery’s a 31.5W-h model, you can choose between 32GB and 64GB of on-board storage, and connectors include MicroSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD VIdeo and 2×2 MIMO antennae for better WiFi performance. The processor hasn’t been named but the smart money’s on a Tegra 3.
The Pro model is heavier – 930g - and thicker – 13.5mm – to make room for an Intel Ivy Bridge i5 processor. This time the ClearType display is “Full HD”, which implies 1920×1080 resolution. The battery’s bigger too, at 42W-h, and the connectors include MicroSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort and the same antennae. Storage options for the big Surface are 64GB and 128GB.
Both tablets have twin cameras, stereo speakers and dual microphones tuned for Skype, and their cases are made of VaporMg, a magnesium alloy that’s very light and strong.
The Surface tablet also includes an integrated kickstand to prop up your tablet when you’re watching video.
The Surface Pro tablet has a pen
The Windows 8 Pro Surface tablet supports pen input at 600dpi resolution, and there’s a palm block so you don’t lose focus when your palm touches the screen. The pen can be used just like a real one, with digital ink annotating documents or filling in forms.
The Windows RT Surface includes Microsoft Office
Microsoft Home and Student 2013 RT is pre-installed on the Windows RT Surface tablet.
Both Surface tablets have a touch cover and a type cover
Microsoft has come up with a brilliant idea: a protective cover that doubles as a pressure sensitive multi-touch trackpad and keyboard and that attaches magnetically. If you’d rather have a chiclet keyboard, there’s one of those too: an ultra-thin one that, while it’s naturally a bit thicker than the touch one (5mm compared to 3mm), still doesn’t add too much bulk to the device.
The keyboards have built-in accelerometers, which mean they can tell when you fold them back over the screen: when you do, they stop drawing power. When you compare them to the kinds of keyboard docks we’ve seen for other tablets, such as Asus’s Transformers, they’re clearly remarkable bits of engineering.
The Microsoft Surface price will be competitive
Microsoft’s keeping its cards close to its chest with this one: while it promises that both the Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro Surface tablets will be priced competitively with rival devices, it doesn’t say which rival devices, let alone commit to a price range. We’d expect prices to be similar to high-end Android tablets and, of course, the iPad, even if that means making a loss: as we know from the Xbox, Microsoft isn’t afraid to lose money for a long time if that’s what it takes to build market share.
The Microsoft Surface release date isn’t imminent
The RT Surface tab is due to be released “this fall”, with the Surface Pro shipping roughly 90 days later.
The Surface tablets will have Xbox integration and SmartGlass
Microsoft’s twin-screen SmartGlass is an obvious feature for the Surface tablets, and Microsoft says it’s coming alongside Xbox integration.
Surface is designed to give Microsoft’s partners a poke
Microsoft normally lets OEMS (Original Equipment Manufacturers) do the hardware stuff, so Surface is something of a departure from the normal PC business. It’s a tacit admission that sometimes, PCs are crappier than they ought to be: as Mary Branscombe explains, “Not only does Surface deliver hardware innovations that the OEMs can’t turn around and put on their Android tablets; it also take advantage of the hardware experts at Microsoft and their 3,200 hardware patents and lets Microsoft deliver the PC it thinks Windows 8 will run best on, not a PC maker’s interpretation of that.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft’s OEM partners react to that: can Microsoft be their best pal as well as their biggest rival? …”
7 reasons Microsoft’s new tablet could worry Apple
By Erik Sherman
“…There are skeptics aplenty, including Stephen Chapman at ZDNet, MoneyWatch’s sister site. Skepticism is necessary and healthy, as this would be far from a cakewalk for Microsoft. But if you’re trying to understand where computing is headed, cynicism would be dangerous. Microsoft has many strengths that could help, and Apple knows it. Here are seven things that Tim Cook is likely weighing.
Apple is the king of consumer electronics, no question. But even with its again growing use in corporations, Microsoft has an establishment in corporate computing that is remarkable. From the operating system on the vast majority of desktops to software that is pervasive, including databases, Office, major corporate applications, and middleware, the company is there, no matter where you turn.
Yes, iPads have become very popular, but they don’t naturally integrate with existing systems the way corporations would like. Get the same type of functions in an enterprise-friendly form, and you’ve provided companies with a powerful reason to buy hardware. Furthermore, the greater number of form factors that will be available are more likely to hit corporate needs, including docking stations for people who have to create and edit documents and spreadsheets and find the experience on a pure tablet wanting, even with the availability of Bluetooth keyboards. (I’ve been using a Google (GOOG) Android-based system that I bought for traveling, and the ability to seat a tablet to a keyboard with touchpad and extra battery that adds little in weight has been great. Once a Windows-equivalent is available, I’ll likely jump just for the desktop software compatibility.)
Massive existing developer base
As Chapman noted, Microsoft will need app developers to compete. I’m wary of the whole “apps are the reason people buy devices,” because both Apple’s iOS and Google Android managed to build large audiences even without their current levels of app mania. After all, most of the sales and free downloads are from a relatively small slice of the available offerings. But the perception of availability of software is important.
Where Chapman goes wrong, I think, is to say that cross-platform development tools are what could aid Microsoft in this. While they could, he’s discounting just how large the Microsoft Windows development camp is. Virtually all corporations putting programmers to work for custom software or to adapt third-party applications have deep Microsoft experience. The most popular software packages, period, have versions for Windows. That’s the app strength that Microsoft hopes to leverage, whether on an Intel-based desktop or a tablet or even phone with an ARM chip. Porting isn’t an afterthought, but going from one versions of Windows to another? A much easier jump.
Home TV tie-in
Work tie-in is important, but so is home entertainment. That’s one place where Microsoft is far better established than Apple because of the Xbox. It’s a major streaming platform and has lots of content available. Microsoft is pushing a cheap-up-front Xbox ($99) with an ongoing Xbox Live paid account, plus it has a full motion detection and navigation system, which makes a multi-touch interface look passé.
So the tablet becomes an extension of TV. For the millions of households that already have an online account with Microsoft, it could be a compelling choice.
Microsoft has screwed up on consumer devices many times. (Can you say Zune or Kin?) But one thing the company has going for it is determination and patience that actually matches Apple’s. Yes, there are companies that have eventually beaten Microsoft badly enough that it gave up. The personal finance software category comes to mind.
But it took Microsoft a decade to drop its desktop finance programs. You could call that a waste of time and resources, but it shows how long the company is willing to go to eventually come out on top. The Xbox platform was a major money loser for many years. But Microsoft, like Apple, is in it for the long haul.
Wide range of innovation
Microsoft is one of the largest patent holders in the world, second to IBM. Patents aren’t the same as innovation, but the number it holds shows how much investment the companies does in that area. Even rule out many of the piddling patents, and Microsoft has done foundational work in a lot of areas. Much of what it does is invisible to people looking at the consumer electronics space. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or has no usefulness.
This isn’t about a potential legal battle; Apple and Microsoft wisely made peace with each other years ago. But Microsoft has tried often and succeeded a fair amount of time. So, what new things could it bring to a tablet? Hard to tell, but it opens the possibility of approaches that will attract users.
New Borg strategy
The new SmartGlass technology shows how Microsoft has begun to move past the “Windows only, Windows often” approach. Sure, it still wants to sell Windows to everyone multiple times, but as the computing world has changed, the company has been morphing a longtime basic strategy. When you’re willing to surround and absorb anyone and everything else, you stand a much greater chance of success, particularly if you want to sell to corporations that aren’t crazy about single-vendor solutions anymore and then extend corporate use to the home. …”
Background Information and Videos
Top 5 tablets (May 2012)
What’s The Best 10″ Tablet Under $400?
10 top tablets 2012
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Side by side tablets comparison
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