Earlier this week a new survey indicated that tablet adoption had increased nearly three-fold in just one years’ time. That trend is not likely to change given Microsoft’s recent announcement that it will design and market its very own tablet PC.
Known as “Surface,” the new slate poses the greatest challenge yet to Apple’s domination of the tablet market.
Microsoft showed off Surface at a press event on Monday. In some ways, it’s quite similar to the iPad: Surface features a 10.6-inch HD touch screen display, making it only slightly larger than Apple’s device. Surface, like the iPad, also features front and rear facing cameras. The overall frame is 9.3 millimeters thick, and weighs just one and a half pounds.
However, there are a number of features that set Microsoft’s tablet apart. First and foremost, launch editions will run the ARM-based Windows RT operating system, a mobile version of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS. Early hardware will feature 32 and 64 GB storage capacities; however, Microsoft says it will release new hardware equipped with Windows 8 Pro and a larger (128 GB) storage device within a few months of the initial launch.
Pricing remains unknown, though Microsoft indicated the cost would be comparable to other tablets on the market. In all likelihood, that means launch editions of Surface will retail for around $500, while the expanded edition could cost several hundred bucks more.
Besides its operating system, Surface also features some unique bells and whistles. For example, its cover can be flipped down to reveal a full-sized keyboard, its casing is made of durable magnesium, and it comes with a pen that can be used for navigation. That same pen can also click into the device, acting as a kickstand while users type away on the keyboard.
A release date isn’t yet known, though Microsoft indicated that consumers will get a chance to own a Surface sometime this fall.