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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.