“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 System Windows 8 Windows RT iOS 5 (iOS 6 in Fall 2012) OS X Lion (OS X Mountain Lion in July 2012)
Aspect ratio 16:9 16:9 4:3 16:9
Depth 0.53” 0.36” 0.37” 0.68”
Weight 1.99 lbs. 1.49 lbs. 1.44 lbs. (cellular 1.46 lbs.) 2.38”
Storage 64 GB or 128 GB 32 GB or 64 GB 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB Flash storage – 64 GB. Configurable to  128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB
Diagonal 10.6” 10.6” 9.7” 11.6”
Pixels 1920 x 1080 pixels 1280 x 720 pixels 2048×1536 pixels 1366×768 pixels
Pixel density 139 ppi 139 ppi 256 ppi 135 ppi
CPU Intel Ivy Bridge Nvidia Tegra 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
Chip Intel Ivy Bridge Chipset ARM Chipset Dual-core Apple A5X Intel HM77
Wifi Expected (though not official) Expected (though not official) Yes + cellular Yes
Carriers No reference to cellular No reference to cellular Verizon, AT&T Not applicable
Camera Front and rear Front and rear Front and rear Front
Battery 42 watt-hour 31.5 watt-hour 42.5 watt-hour 35 watt-hour
Ports Two USB 3.0 ports,microSDXC Two USB 2.0 ports, microSD 30-pin dock Apple connector port Two USB 3.0 ports, Thunderbolt port,MagSafe 2 power port
Covers Magnetic cover that doubles as a keyboard; built-in kickstand Magnetic cover that doubles as a keyboard; built-in kickstand Magnetic cover ($39) that doubles as a kickstand Clam shell
Keyboards Touch Cover and Type Cover Touch Cover and Type Cover Virtual Integral
Pricing TBD TBD $499 (16 GB wi-fi) to $829 (64 GB wi-fi +  cellular) Starting at $999

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