Bonnie Cha

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Microsoft Launches New Surface Tablets With Windows 8

In a watershed moment for Microsoft, the company announced today that it’s launching its own brand of tablets to go head to head with the Apple iPad and the myriad of Android tablets.

Unveiled at an event in Los Angeles hosted by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the new Windows 8-based Microsoft Surface tablets are designed for work and play and will come in two models: A Windows 8 RT version and a Windows 8 Pro model.

The consumer-focused Windows 8 RT Surface is the first PC with a VaporMg magnesium case and measures only 0.37 inch thick — just enough space to fit in a full-size USB 2.0 port. The tablet weighs 1.49 pounds and offers beveled edges for a more comfortable fit in the hand, as well as a built-in kick stand.

The Surface features a custom-designed 10.6-inch widescreen HD display with Gorilla Glass, but Microsoft did not mention its specific resolution today. In addition, the tablet comes with a magnetic cover made from “fine Northwest polar-tec” that incorporates a full multi-touch keyboard and trackpad. Microsoft said the keyboard is twice as efficient as typing on glass and only adds about 0.11 inch of additional thickness.

By comparison, the latest Wi-Fi-only iPad measures 0.37-inch thick and weighs 1.46 pounds.

The Windows 8 RT Surface tablet is equipped with Nvidia’s ARM-based chipset and comes preloaded with Office Home & Student 2013 RT. The tablet will be available in 32 gigabyte and 64GB models. Other features include dual multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) Wi-Fi antennas for the best Wi-Fi coverage of any tablet, a built-in camera, dual-array microphones and HDMI port.

For those seeking more power, Microsoft will also release a Surface for Windows 8 Pro tablet.

The Pro tablet uses Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge Core i5 processors and according to Microsoft, can handle everything a desktop can do with USB 3.0 and USB Super Speed support. To cool the machine, the tablet uses something called “peripheral venting” to allow hot air to escape.

The Surface for Windows Pro 8 shares the same design principles as the RT Surface but is a bit thicker at 0.55 inches and weighs less than two pounds. It also has a 10.6-inch touchscreen but it supports pen input and digital ink, so you can use a stylus to mark up documents and jot down notes.

The Surface for Windows 8 Pro will be offered in 64GB and 128GB capacities, and a Surface Type cover with physical keys instead of a multitouch keyboard will also be available. The latter is also compatible with the Windows RT model.

Such details as battery life, memory and processor speed were not revealed at this time. Microsoft also did not announce pricing or availability but said that the Surface for Windows RT will be priced similar to ARM-based tablets and come out around the same time Windows 8 hits the market later this year.

The Windows 8 Pro Surface’s pricing will fall more in line with Ultrabooks and will launch three months after the Windows RT Surface. Both tablets will initially be sold through its retail and online stores.


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