Microsoft Surface Tablet Hands-on: The Future of Windows is Here [Video]

Microsoft says Windows 8 re-imagines its OS, and now we have hardware that re-imagines tablets to match. We just spent some time with the Surface for Windows RT tablet, an ARM-powered magnesium beauty with a built-in kickstand and very unique Touch Cover keyboard that does Apple’s Smart Cover one better. Here’s our initial impressions.

Made out of magnesium, the Surface is solidly built, yet light for a 10-inch tablet. At 1.5 pounds, it’s a bit heavier and thicker than the iPad, but you’re getting more real estate. It’s also fairly thin, at just 0.4 inches thick. We liked the sturdy build, as well as the beveled edges, which made holding it fairly comfortable.

The tablet’s integrated kickstand, which is quite sizable, also feels very sturdy for something so thin. Two small indentations on the long ends of the Surface allow you to flip it out easily, but we, along with some others here, struggled at first to figure it out. It was a small learning curve, though. 

Aside from the kickstand, the other big hardware feature is the magnetic cover with the built-in keyboard. One version uses a touch-sensitive keyboard and touchpad, which measures how hard you press on its felt-like surface. It measures just 3 mm thick. A more traditional keyboard, with mechanical keys and touchpad, is about 5mm thick. Both snap on firmly to the tablet, and, in a neat trick, will change the background color of the Surface to match the color of the keyboard.

While a Microsoft representative said that typing on the touch keyboard was twice as efficient as typing on glass, the lack of any give still means it’ll be less efficient than typing on a traditional layout. However, we did like the way it integrates with the Surface, and are a little surprised that something like this hasn’t come out for the iPad yet.

Both tablets have a 10.6-inch ClearType display with Gorilla Glass. In our very brief hands-on time, flicking through menus and opening items was quick and smooth, and the screen had very wide viewing angles, too. Microsoft is being a little cagey on the resolution of the screen, though.

The RT version of the tablet will run an Nvidia Tegra processor, and measure about 0.4 inches thick and weigh 1.5 pounds. It will have a full-size USB 2.0 port, and come in 32GB and 64GB sizes. It will cost roughly the same as other ARM-based tablets–we’re guessing in the $500 range–and be available right around the same time as Windows 8, later this year.

The Windows 8 Pro version will be a slightly thicker 0.53 inches, and come in at a heavier 2 pounds. That’s because this tablet will have an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor. Unlike the RT version, this Surface tablet will have a USB 3.0 port, and support Pen input with palm rejection. Microsoft says that it will come in 64GB and 128GB flavors, and will be available about three months after Windows 8. 

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  1. Blake Norris Says:

    It look like another Microsoft / Ballmer EPIC FAIL plastic piece of crap to me…… screen resolution stats…….no battery life stats……no price stats……..I am betting the farm this is another catastrophe for Microsoft……The Shareholders really need to ditch Ballmer………he has no vision or long term strategy…….

  2. Blake Norris Says:

    oh…….my mistake…..they glued a piece of Gorilla Glass to a big plastic piece of crap…….it still equals epic fail for Microsoft…….A SOFTWARE COMPANY…….

  3. David Says:

    Good hand on… One mistake though. The Surface is actually 1mm THINNER than the New Ipad (9.3mm versus 9.4mm).

  4. Joel Harvey Says:

    Ahhh I hear the thunder of distant hoves, the game is changing. as all things do. It won’t be a catastrophe.

  5. Dan Says:

    Microsoft almost caused Apple to go belly up over the pc market and they have deep pockets and lots of brains as well. They know when to get into something and when to stand by and watch. They are about to re-enter what is turning out to be an evolved tech industry with touch capacity and more mobility with smart phones and tablets. We will see but I think now especially with Jobs out of the game Microsoft will turn this thing upside down. Personally I cant wait to see this Surface device, and if it is half of what it looks like it is going to pull people in like a magnet to steel. They could falter, but they took no chances by hiring outside partners to build the first wave of this newest technology. Microsoft is not afraid to give the consumer what it wants versus Apple’s philosophy of telling their consumers what they are going to get no matter what they want.

  6. Pierre Says:

    While the ipad is a wonderful device and currently has no competition, it simply cannot replace my computer. The reality is that apple computers do nothing better than those running Windows. In fact, I prefer windows 7 over Macs iOS. My hp dv7 laptop does everything and more compared to the Mac book pro and it does it at 1/3 the price. The only superior products apple has currently is the iphone and iPad. as much a i love my ipad, its has severe limitations and cannot replace my laptop. additionally, my ipad 3, crashes quite a bit. The Microsoft surface appears to have the beauty, build quality, portability of my ipad with the power of a full blown computer. It also has hdmi and a full size usb and runs programs with a file system. The Microsoft Surface seems to have the ability to not only replace my laptop but my Ipad as well. I am excited to seeing these in action. If they are as good as they look, I will be replacing the 5 ipads in my home with Microsoft Surfaces.

  7. Anton Says:

    Great device by Microsoft, the Surface has everything the consumer needs and wants and is a great business device, better then the iPad, because of the touch keyboard and better than the Asus Transformer because the Surface is running Windows 8. The Surface is one of those devices were I can’t think of anything it should include that is vital. The Surface is a great idea, and only needs strong advertising. Windows 8 is also another great improvement to the market, after installing it on my Lenovo Edge, but laptop speed up, and looks really fresh. Also the Nokia Lumia 820/920 is looking really cool as well, with Windows Phone 8 also being announced it looks like MS is really lifting their gain and the Surface is one of those devices you don’t want to miss.

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