Microsoft unveils Surface tablet

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 13:17 19/06/2012
Microsoft Surface

OPEN AIR: Microsoft's new Surface tablet was unveiled in Los Angeles today.

Steve Ballmer
Reuters
NEW TRICK: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer holds the new Surface tablet as it is unveiled in Los Angeles, California.

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Microsoft has announced it is entering the tablet computer market and has shown off the design for a radical new computer in Los Angeles; a tablet computer with a 3mm thick metal protective cover that doubles as keyboard.

The main distinguishing features of the tablet, called the Surface, are the cover-come-keyboard, which attaches to the tablet via a magnetic connector, and a built-in "kickstand" that lets users prop the computer up at an angle  very much like the stand on a photoframe.

The kickstand is designed to make it possible for people to place the Surface on a desk or table and look at the screen, for example to watch a movie.

Microsoft said the pressure-sensitive keyboard would let people touch-type significantly faster than was possible with on-screen keyboards that are usually the only option for tablet computers, such as iPads. Reports said it would also come with the option of a normal tactile, keyboard with keys that moved.

The metal casing of the Surface is similar to the finish on a "luxury watch", Microsoft said.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer described the Surface as a tablet that "works and plays" when he showed it off at a press event in Los Angeles.

It will come in two versions. A version running the Windows RT operating system is 9.3mm thick, weighs 676 grams and will be available with 32 or 64 gigabytes of solid state storage memory.

The second version, running Windows 8 Pro, is 13.5mm thick, weighs 903 grams and will be available with 64 or 128Gb of storage.

Both versions will include a full-sized USB port for connectivity.

"It's a whole new community of computing devices from  Microsoft," Ballmer said. "It embodies the notion of hardware and  software really pushing each other."

Details of pricing and availability have not yet been released, but the Windows 8 version will not go on sale for three months after the release of the RT version, Microsoft said.

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- The Dominion Post

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