“Just the Facts, Ma’am” – Microsoft Unveils its Answer to the iPad

Yesterday, Microsoft took the plunge into the tablet market, unveiling its Surface tablet.

The Surface is positioned to go head-to-head with Apple’s iPad.

There are two Surface models, the Surface for Windows 8 Pro and the Surface for Windows RT. As its name implies, the Surface Windows 8 Pro is the “professional” version aimed at content creators.

Microsoft has taken aim at arguably the two biggest ‘shortcomings’ of the iPad.

Lack of keyboard – Both Surface models will come with a lightweight cover that has a keyboard built in. The iPad has a virtual keyboard although there are many third-party iPad covers with an integral keyboard.

Ports – The iPad only has the 30-pin dock Apple connector port. The Surface for Windows RT will sport two USB 2.0 ports as well as a microSD port. Likewise, the Surface for Windows 8 Pro will have two USB 3.0 ports as well as a microSDXC port.

Below is a comparison the Surface models as compared to the iPad and the MacBook Air. It may seem a little strange to include the Air specs but, at various times throughout the Microsoft presentation, the Surface was called a tablet, PC and ultrabook. Arguably, the Surface for Windows RT model is poised to go up against the iPad while the more robust Surface for Windows 8 Pro is geared more to compete with an ultrabook such as the Air.

It is unclear at this time (at least to me) which is the better tablet. There are many unknowns with the Surface tablets, such as battery life and, most importantly, pricing. The release date is expected to be later this year.

And, seriously, I hope they come up with a shorter name for these, like Surface RT and Surface Pro.  It’s almost as bad as MacBook Pro with Retina Display.



Surface for Windows 8 Pro

Surface for Windows RT

iPad (3rd generation)

MacBook Air

Operating SystemWindows 8Windows RTiOS 5 (iOS 6 in Fall 2012)OS X Lion (OS X Mountain Lion in July 2012)
Aspect ratio16:916:94:316:9
Weight1.99 lbs.1.49 lbs.1.44 lbs. (cellular 1.46 lbs.)2.38”
Storage64 GB or 128 GB32 GB or 64 GB16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GBFlash storage – 64 GB. Configurable to  128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB
Pixels1920 x 1080 pixels1280 x 720 pixels2048×1536 pixels1366×768 pixels
Pixel density139 ppi139 ppi256 ppi135 ppi
CPUIntel Ivy BridgeNvidia Tegra1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
ChipIntel Ivy Bridge ChipsetARM ChipsetDual-core Apple A5XIntel HM77
WifiExpected (though not official)Expected (though not official)Yes + cellularYes
CarriersNo reference to cellularNo reference to cellularVerizon, AT&TNot applicable
CameraFront and rearFront and rearFront and rearFront
Battery42 watt-hour31.5 watt-hour42.5 watt-hour35 watt-hour
PortsTwo USB 3.0 ports,microSDXCTwo USB 2.0 ports, microSD30-pin dock Apple connector portTwo USB 3.0 ports, Thunderbolt port,MagSafe 2 power port
CoversMagnetic cover that doubles as a keyboard; built-in kickstandMagnetic cover that doubles as a keyboard; built-in kickstandMagnetic cover ($39) that doubles as a kickstandClam shell
KeyboardsTouch Cover and Type CoverTouch Cover and Type CoverVirtualIntegral
PricingTBDTBD$499 (16 GB wi-fi) to $829 (64 GB wi-fi +  cellular)Starting at $999

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