Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Tablets Unveiled at Last-Minute LA Event

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage in LA to unveil new hardware under the Microsoft Surface brand, which includes both ARM and Intel Windows 8 tablets. The Microsoft Surface tablets will feature a 10.6-inch Gorilla Glass display, sport a VaporMG magnesium build, and support Wi-Fi. In addition, both will have a tablet-width kickstand and support multiple keyboard covers, dubbed the Touch Cover and Type Cover.

The ARM-based Microsoft Surface will run Windows RT have a NVIDIA Tegra chipset. It will have what Microsoft is calling its own ClearType HD Display (likely 720, but that is not confirmed) and support microSD and full-sized USB 2.0. It will ship with Office 15, which comes bundled with Windows RT, and come with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. It will be 9.3mm thick and weigh 1.5 pounds.

The Intel-based Microsoft Surface will have a Core i5 (3rd gen) processor and run Windows 8 Pro. It will have a ClearType Full HD Display and support microSDXC, USB 3.0, and mini DisplayPort Video. This tablet will have a dual digitizer for both active pen and touch input, it will feature palm blocking technology and work with both the Touch Cover and Type Cover. It will be available with 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage. It will be 1.9 pounds and 13.5mm thick.

There is no hard release date, only confirmation that it will launch around the same time as Windows 8, with the Intel version launching within three months after the Windows 8 launch. There are also no prices to announce, only news that the Windows RT version will be “competitive” with ARM tablets and the Intel version will be comparable with Intel Ultrabooks. That said, the iPad is an ARM tablet, and the new iPad starts at $499, while the iPad 2 can be had for $399. Ultrabook prices approached $1,000 not long ago, and now bottom out between $600 and $700.

Touch, Type, Magnets
Both tablets support Microsoft’s new Surface Touch Cover and Surface Type Cover. The Touch Cover will have a multitouch keyboard and trackpad and adds only 3mm of thickness to the tablets, according to Microsoft. It will be available in five colors and attach via a magnet to the tablet. The Type Cover will also attach via magnet and will feature real pressable keys and a trackpad with full, moving buttons. The Type Cover will add 5mm of thickness. There is no word on pricing, or whether these covers will be included with the tablet or sold separately for that matter. 

Microsoft did not detail the pen, only that it “samples” at 600 dpi and also docks to the tablet via magnets.

Unanswered Questions
In addition to price and a solid release date, we still don’t know how much RAM the Microsoft Surface tablets will have, nor do we know the processor speeds. There was also no talk of 4G LTE support. The official spec sheets are also slim on details, with no mention of GPS or any other common tablet sensors. Finally, we don’t know what type of digitizer technology the Intel tablet will sport, N-trig or Wacom.

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