Features & News

Microsoft’s new tablet swims to the Surface

June 19, 2012, Author: Ray Willmott

That ‘Major’ Microsoft Monday Announcement? It’s a tablet!

Microsoft have defied their critics and once again entered the hardware arena. After limited success with anything that isn’t Xbox-related, last night in Los Angeles, Microsoft revealed ‘Surface’, a brand new tablet set to release later this year.

Chief Executive of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, showed off two versions of the tablet last night. One running on Windows RT (for low power processors) and one running Windows 8 at full capacity.

For the techies amongst you, here are some of Surface’s specifications…

  • 10.6″ HD Display
  • Built-in Kickstand so the tablet can stand up on any surface.
  • Magnesium Casings (A first of their kind, apparently)
  • Full sized USB port
  • HDMI connection for larger screens
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio

The Lite version of the tablet will be 9.3mm thick, will weigh 676g, and will either bundle with 32 or 64gb of memory. Meanwhile, the Pro version will be 13.5mm thick, weigh 903g and will offer up to 128gb of memory!

Another interesting feature of the tablet are the keyboard covers attached by easily-slotted magnetic connectors. The TouchCover is based on pressure sensitive technology, so will only respond to dedicated button presses. There will also be an integral trackpad, and Surface is configured to work with a stylus producing ‘digital ink’.

While this is a Windows 8 based tablet, capable of running Microsoft Office, a browser and other such applications, there was mention of a game marketplace during the conference. Little else is known outside of that, but what does seems clear is that Microsoft will not be engineering a version of the Xbox Marketplace on Surface. At least, not yet.

There’s a missed opportunity if you ask me. Existing Xbox owners will likely consider this tablet for Smart Glass connectivity (something else that wasn’t mentioned last night) and would undoubtably love to take their Arcade games on the move. However, they’re essentially being isolated. When you consider the tablet is also being powered by the nVidia Tegra Chipset, the potential of the tablet makes Apple iPad gaming seem pretty laughable in comparison.

While I doubt this is Microsoft’s end-game with the tablet, their silence is very telling about the future of their brand, and indeed, where Xbox will go from here. Surface will inevitably link-up with their next generation console, but for now, Microsoft is remaining extremely tight-lipped as to how. Just imagine being able to use Surface as a controller for the next Xbox. The possibilities that presents are almost impossible to fully comprehend…

Regardless, Microsoft seem determined to bridge the gap between tablet and laptop even further, and this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Microsoft Surface is said to launch from around October. No price announcements have been made.

(Sources: The Telegraph, BBC, ZDnet, The Verge)