Microsoft Announces Next-Gen Surface Tablets

Microsoft's announcement of their own Windows 8 tablet didn't come as much of a shock.  In fact, most every tech rumor blog has been buzzing about it since last week.  What did come as a pleasant surprise, however, was just how lustworthy the resulting Microsoft Surface Tablets turned out to be.

The first batch of tablets consist of two models: Surface for Windows RT and Surface for Windows 8 Pro.  While they are, technically, tablets, Microsoft is banding them about as proper PCs, which they also are, able to run the dual-purpose Windows 8 and switch between its desktop/tablet interfaces without any trouble.

Surface for Windows RT runs on a Tegra-based ARM chip, with a 10.6-inch ClearType HD touchscreen, up to 64GB of onboard storage, microSD card expansion, a micro HD video port and a USB 2.0 slot.  The Surface for Windows 8 Pro version, on the other hand, sports an Intel Core i5, a 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD (1080p) touchscreen, microSDXC slot, a USB 3.0 port, Mini Display port and up to 128GB of onboard storage.  Both feature an integrated kickstand that allows you to prop the tablet up on a table without using a separate accessory.

Of course, these wouldn't be proper PCs if they didn't have a keyboard and a trackpad.  And Richmond had an elegant solution for that, too: the Touch Cover and the Type Cover, both of which feature built-in keyboards and trackpads.  What's the difference?  The former uses non-mechanical keys that detect keystrokes as gestures; the latter (which comes in at 2mm thicker) adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.

No pricing yet, but the Microsoft Surface for Windows RT is slated for release around the same time as Windows 8's fall launch, with the Surface for Windows 8 Pro scheduled to drop three months after that.

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