Five unique features which may lead to Surface's success

Since the conference Microsoft held yesterday, many news blogs including us have done a decent job in keeping users informed about what we can expect to see from Microsoft’s new tablet and how it will run Windows 8 and Windows RT. However, many are wondering whether this tablet is really the next big thing, or simply just another alternative tablet to use. Here’s where we come in; we thought we’d highlight five features that make this tablet unique when comparing it to formidable competition such as the iPad.

Keyboard

We’ve lived in a decade where we’ve swiftly had to adapt to on-screen touch keyboards and whilst it's never a bad thing to adapt to modern technology, touch-keyboards still have nothing when compared to how productive physical keys are. Whether you’re writing documents, sending an email or just gaming, the option to use a physical keyboard is somewhat mandatory if we want to get our daily tasks done efficiently and this where the Surface keyboard comes in.

The Surface keyboard will be part of the Microsoft Surface’s Touch Cover, which is connected with magnets and flips open from the main housing. There will be two versions of the keyboard, one with pressure-sensitive flat keys and another with more traditional raised keys called a Type Cover.

From stock, these keyboard offerings are superior to the third-party keyboards that are available for the iPad. The Touch Cover is 3 millimetres thick, and the Type Cover is 5 millimetres. And for the style-sensitive among us, they'll come in a variety of colours, including black, pink, red and blue.

In our opinion, if you add the keyboard, trackpad and built-in "kickstand," you've got greater usability features that current iPads simply do not offer or possess.

Size

We’ll give credit where it’s due and say that Apple has made a great attempt at making a sleek, stylish and thin tablet to the extent that other tablets simply look inferior but for the Microsoft Surface, is a completely different story.

One advantage that the Surface has over Apple’s iPad is that the Surface’s screen 10.6 inches – which is almost a full inch bigger than the iPad's. Microsoft also claims that the screen is optimized to have the same dimensions as movie screens, which means those black bars at the top and bottom when watching videos should be completely gone.

The Surface for Windows RT is smaller than the iPad by a millimetre (9.3 vs. 9.4), while the heftier Windows 8 Pro model will be 13.5 millimeters. The RT weighs virtually the same as the iPad (it's less than an ounce heavier), while the Pro will be around 2 pounds.

USB ports

Both versions of the Surface come with two USB ports which makes it convenient to transfer data to and from your device. The RT version comes with USB 2.0 ports and the Windows Pro sports USB 3.0 ports. The implementation of USB ports eliminates the need to use cloud storage as a means of printing, and storing certain data and just replying on physical quick connections – this is something we believe Microsoft has taken on-board and overcome when reviewing the problem factors of Apple’s iPad.

Power

Microsoft has an aim to ensure that it will combine the best of both worlds and allow users to complete their daily computing tasks, just as efficiently as they would from a PC.

A tablet have always been a hybrid between the transition of general computers and smartphones, but Microsoft wants this to change and is insisting that with the upcoming Office 15 running on its Metro interface, and the ability to use physical keyboards that the Surface is really one of the only tablets you can do work on.

The Windows Pro model of the surface will run on an i5 Intel processor and will come with up to 128 gigabytes of internal memory – which again overshadows the iPad, as the iPad only goes up to 64GB.

It is unknown what the speed of the processor is in the Windows RT version of the Surface.

Xbox SmartGlass

The Xbox SmartGlass feature is a feature that Microsoft’s gaming division rolled out at this month's E3 video gaming expo, and will work on the iPad and various Android tablets. However, it is assumed that Microsoft will be optimizing the technology for its own piece of hardware – which Microsoft then hope will make the Xbox the number one console for media and gaming.

SmartGlass will enable users to connect a smartphone or tablet with the Xbox, and allow them to access new content. For example: users can watch a movie on their television with the Xbox, while getting bonus material on their tablet, however, at this time we’re unaware of what content Microsoft plans on offering.

Whether the SmartGlass feature will work is something we’ll have to wait and see, but we will say that if it does, Microsoft's push to bring all of a user's devices together within the flexible Windows 8 system could change the devices we use and the way we do things in future.

What are your opinions? Do you think Microsoft has what it takes to beat the competition in the tablet market? Let us know in the comments below.

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gawicks said,

You missed USB and SD card slot .Oh and the Kickstand. Also a Real Pen .Wait! It run Windows.

USB and SD card slot - Nothing unique there since many Android devices have it and also the iPad. http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC531ZM/A

Kickstand - Nothing unique about a kickstand. All tablets have accessories that can be bought that does this.

Real Pen - Just because you give it a fancy name, doesn't mean it isn't just another stylus. You can go to Wal-Mart and pick one up for $15 that works on almost all tablets/phones. Also, Galaxy Note. Enough said.

InB4 its a basic built-in feature, not an added cost accessory. Sure you can argue that, but anyone with common sense will ask how those features are worth hundreds of dollars when you can buy all those features as accessories for less than $100.

In fact, look up the Viewsonic G-Tablet Case and USB Keyboard with Kick Stand. $18 on Amazon. Add another $15 for the stylus at Wal-Mart and now you are at $33. That's $33 dollars for the same functionality on a device that costs hundreds more.

The only real advantage is that it can run Windows 8. Stop acting like everything else is anything special. Stop being a fanboy, use some common sense, and come back to reality. The only real news here is we have Windows running on a tablet which we have been expecting for a while now considering that is what Windows 8 was built for. Other than that, its just another tablet.


And to be clear, I am not saying its a bad device. At most, its going to be overpriced for what it is. The features that are being praised here are old features with new names and nothing more. However, I will be getting one because I could use Windows on the go. Have some nice ideas for putting it into my car.

Really ? So you are happy to buy all Accessories and let Apple sell you a bare bones device .So when Microsoft gives you all these integrated you say there's no value in it?

For me it's the whole package that makes it worthwhile. I personally don't see the argument when you say there's this accessory that accessory etc; I don't want to worry about how to brute force capabilities out of devices that weren't built for the experience. Say ipad ; Was it built for Pen input? Was it built for File management on SD cards ? Does it offer all the goodness a built in USB port has to offer ? No . And I where did I talk about Android. Android tabs have some decent hardware , but Windows would offer a better experience. There is no argument about that.
Stop being an apologist for Apple . ipad is a beautiful device but Apple is arrogant . They would happily charge you for every little thing that a consumer expects from a modern computing device.I'm happy that Microsoft is raising the bar for Apple and the rest of the OEMs .It's a win for the consumer.
You have your opinion and I have mine But that doesn't make me a fan boy any less than you are.

gawicks said,
Really ? So you are happy to buy all Accessories and let Apple sell you a bare bones device .So when Microsoft gives you all these integrated you say there's no value in it?

For me it's the whole package that makes it worthwhile. I personally don't see the argument when you say there's this accessory that accessory etc; I don't want to worry about how to brute force capabilities out of devices that weren't built for the experience. Say ipad ; Was it built for Pen input? Was it built for File management on SD cards ? Does it offer all the goodness a built in USB port has to offer ? No . And I where did I talk about Android. Android tabs have some decent hardware , but Windows would offer a better experience. There is no argument about that.
Stop being an apologist for Apple . ipad is a beautiful device but Apple is arrogant . They would happily charge you for every little thing that a consumer expects from a modern computing device.I'm happy that Microsoft is raising the bar for Apple and the rest of the OEMs .It's a win for the consumer.
You have your opinion and I have mine But that doesn't make me a fan boy any less than you are.


I prefer Android devices first of all since I like making random pointless apps. You really just made the argument that $33 worth of "features" is worth hundreds of dollars more because it comes in the same box. The fact that an overpriced Apple product costs less than this even when you factor in buying extra accessories is just sad. Apple's price points have never been hard to beat and yet Microsoft can't. That's just sad.

ILikeTobacco said,

I'm sure a 3rd party will come out with one. People seem to be forgetting that there is nothing special about a keyboard on a tablet.

Except that most tablets come with virtual (not physical QWERTY) keyboards as standard - in fact, name ONE tablet other than Surface that includes a standard physical keyboard.

I loathe and despise virtual keyboards - all of them; it is, in fact, my particular peeve with tablets as a group. (The same applies to smartphones - I have never, in fact, recommended a smartphone that lacks a physical keyboard.)

PGHammer said,

Except that most tablets come with virtual (not physical QWERTY) keyboards as standard - in fact, name ONE tablet other than Surface that includes a standard physical keyboard.

I loathe and despise virtual keyboards - all of them; it is, in fact, my particular peeve with tablets as a group. (The same applies to smartphones - I have never, in fact, recommended a smartphone that lacks a physical keyboard.)


Go on amazon and you can find specific keyboards for most tablets. It's nothing new. You are paying more for less cardboard/packaging and that's what it comes down to. I'm not saying they are bad features, I am saying, they are nothing special and not worth paying 100s more for when you can get them for $33.

The RT version will be good competition for the iPad although it will need several years to compete. Low number of applications available for the RT version will pay a significant role on how this will succeed in gaining market share. I believe that this will mostly gain marketshare at the expense of android tablets!

However the x86 version which is heavier, thicker will be basically a competitor to the ultra books on the market, i believe that the higher price won't make it a worthy replacement of Ultabooks since it will be thick heavy for a tablet, and not so powerful as an ultra book. Also 99% of the x86 applications are not touch friendly so overall user experience will be bad when used as a tablet. tech savvy people might opt for this but this certainly won't be a choice of the average family member!

The best part about this entire announcement is how much MG Siegler thinks it is going to fail. If he has such a stick up his ____ about it, then it must be good.

daniel_rh said,
With Ultrabooks costing more than 1000$, this Pro for 799-899$ sounds like a deal! Give me mine!!

My thoughts exactly. The Surface Pro is exactly what I've been looking for.

5 unique advantages:
1. Vapor
2. Microsofts strong history of quality hardware manufacturing
3. Xbox (what?)
4. Bing
5. Reusing the name of their last vaporware touchscreen product

seriously I am looking forward to windows 8 tablets, and microsofts in particular, and I really hope they pull it off, because as much as I love my iPad, I need my windows on the go, for work and play. And nothing makes quality like competition.

In a way your wrong about the same dimensions as a movie screen, 1366x768 is 16:9 which some movies are still in, but most are in the ultra wide 21:9, so most likely you will still have those black bars if you plan on watching any modern movies.

The Gunslinger said,
That smartglass feature reminds me of the Wii-U...

All of which, remind me of Sony's Remote Play feature

well and let's not forget, the ipad won't be running Adobe Lightroom and full blown photoshop any time soon. that essentially criples it permanently.

The main reason I would buy a tablet is to read documents/books/web pages and handwriting recognition, so I can be able to write with the pen on the Pro version. I'm not sure if this is the correct time to buy one, sinse there is a delay yet, but it is a big way to go.

One point, the USB port doesnt mean a lot if the device cant power the drive, that'll rule out portable drives, theyve not clerly mentioned it tho...
also the pricing , especially of the Pro, will decide if CAN be an ipad killer, the lower end ARM processor based ones arent really ipad killers IMO

mohan_168 said,
One point, the USB port doesnt mean a lot if the device cant power the drive, that'll rule out portable drives, theyve not clerly mentioned it tho...
also the pricing , especially of the Pro, will decide if CAN be an ipad killer, the lower end ARM processor based ones arent really ipad killers IMO

External USB drives have their own power source (they aren't bus-powered) - hence that's not really an excuse for Android tablets not supporting them. (What is the reality is that Android - not Windows RT - is a real *phone OS*; smartphones - not tablets - are Android's primary platform.)

The Surface RT can be an iPad killer - however, that's more a software (not hardware) issue. The entire RT hardware space will live and die due to apps (compared to Android and iOS). Surface Pro (and Ultrabooks in general - especially with the benchmark Ultrabook Surface Pro) can be the one thing the MacBook Air really hasn't had - quality-made competition that can undercut it on price. So far, the high-quality Ultrabooks have been pretty much business/enterprise/channel-only - you're not seeing them retail (I'm referring to the HP Folio in particular). Ultrabook (any Ultrabook) vs. the iPad is apples vs. oranges - comparing the two is not really fair to either. However, Surface RT v. iPad (or Surface Pro vs. MacBook Air) makes all SORTS of sense.

mohan_168 said,
One point, the USB port doesnt mean a lot if the device cant power the drive, that'll rule out portable drives, theyve not clerly mentioned it tho...
also the pricing , especially of the Pro, will decide if CAN be an ipad killer, the lower end ARM processor based ones arent really ipad killers IMO

Here's one point: the non- pro surface won't be running photoshop anytime soon either.
From the windows 8 RT Wikipedia entry:
"It will officially only run software available through the Windows Store or included in Windows RT including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote as standard."

Have to persuade my parents to buy me this.... Cant see it happening as they will not take into consideration the differences between this device and my iPad...

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