Apple has mad a good case showing that if you control both the software and the hardware design you should come up with a pretty good product. Apple has sold over 55 million units to date and the number seems to be growing rapidly. This is no small reason there are so many manufacturers designing units for both the Android market and now with the release of Windows 8 looming soon we should see a large number of tablets designed to take advantage of us diehard Microsoft Windows users.
Microsoft has relied in the past on its manufacturing partners to come up with innovative designs for their operating systems to run on. With the introduction of Microsoft’s Surface products will this hurt its relationship or will this be the push for these manufacturers to produce something really innovative and exceed what Microsoft is setting up as their tablet’s standard. I truly believe we are going to see some interesting product over the next 6 months.
The entry level or light version of the Windows 8 Tablet line, Will launch at the same time that Windows 8 is released. It will be running Windows RT and will be based on ARM CPU technology at its core. It will only be running the Metro portion of Windows 8 and is Microsoft’s direct competition with the iPad. It should be priced in the $500 range. The Surface Pro will have Intel’s Ivy Bridge technology, have better peripheral support and a larger battery. The RT version’s screen resolution will run at least 1,280x720 pixels (720p HD), while the Surface Pro will boast at least 1,920x1,080 pixels (1080p). The iPad screen sports a 4:3 aspect ration but the surface has a larger 10.6 inch screen in a 16:10 ration. This makes the Surface a better playback product for movies and other video that are made in this format. You get to lose the letterbox affect that you have on the iPad.
The Surface is also built around providing a better data input experience. With its specially designed keyboard-cover cases, you have a much better typing experience for email and letter writing. With a track pad you have both the touch screen and fingertip control that a notebook user is use to when composing their writings. This gives you a much more effective experience when using the tablet in a work environment. As a business primarily user, this really appeals to me.
Apple’s lack of interest in integrating a stylus for their product has opened a large add-on market for the iPad. The biggest drawback on the iPad is that the software developers have to build touch blocking technology into their programs to make the use of a stylus a better experience. In Windows 8 and the Surface that Microsoft calls palm block technology. Windows uses two digitizers: one for touch and another for digital ink. As long as the Stylus is in close proximity to the tablet screen, Windows will shut off the touch sensor, so that your hand doesn't accidentally swipe the screen while you're trying to write or draw. Once you're done, the Stylus can then adhere to the side of the tablet, magnetically. So what you get is a built-in at both operating system and a hardware level technology that makes the use of a stylus a much better experience.
Here's a rundown of the official specs as we know them:
Surface (Windows RT) tablet key specs
- Windows RT operating system
- Nvidia ARM CPU
- 9.3mm thick
- 676 grams/23.85 ounces
- 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display
- 31.5 watt hour battery
- Ports: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro-HD video, 2x2 MIMO antennas
- Storage options: 32GB and 64GB for Windows RT
- Front- and rear-facing "HD" cameras
Surface (Windows Pro) tablet key specs
- Windows 8 operating system
- Intel third-generation Core i CPU
- 13.5mm thick
- 903 grams/31.85 ounces
- 10.6-inch ClearType "Full HD" Display
- 42 watt hour battery
- Ports: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort video
- Storage options: 64GB and 128GB
- Front- and rear-facing "HD" cameras
When you look at the Surface you get the feeling that a great deal of attention went into the design of these tablets. They are solid, light and feel substantial. There is the right mixture of connectivity without overloading the system. Small design additions like the line cut around the outside of the unit to allow 360 degree cooling of the components, the Kickstand, and the magnetic lock of the keyboard covers add to the completeness of the product. If the Microsoft’s App Store begins to build on available applications for its Metro design and with the pro version being able to support general Windows 7 compatible programs I know that for those of us that need to be in the Microsoft Windows world and want a tablet experience this will be a much desired product. The next six months will be exciting for the Windows World.