What we know (and don't know) about Microsoft's Surface

At yesterdays mystery Microsoft event, the company unveiled the Microsoft Surface range to a stunned audience. The Microsoft-made tablets are the benchmark for high-end tablet design and come with beautiful hardware to complement all the work Microsoft has put in to making the software - Windows RT or Windows 8 Pro, depending on the tablet - just right for the form factor.

However while a lot was revealed at today's event, a lot of critical information was missing from the procession at today's event. So, to make it easier for everyone searching for info on the tablet we have compiled a list of things we know, things that are possibilities and things we don't know about the Microsoft Surface.

What we know:

  • There are two Surface tablets: an ARM-based one running Windows RT and an Intel-based one running Windows 8 Pro
  • Specs of the Surface tablets show that the ARM-based device is slimmer and lighter than the enterprise-oriented Pro version
  • The displays on both devices are 10.6" - although the RT one is just "HD" (this is presumed to mean 1366 x 768) while the Pro version is Full HD (1080p)
  • The Windows RT Surface will come with either 32 GB or 64 GB of storage while the Pro tablet has 64 or 128 GB
  • The Surface(s) feature built-in kickstands, with the VaporMg tablet body being made from magnesium
  • Both devices feature full-sized USB ports, although only the Pro version has USB 3.0
  • Covers for the Surfaces known as "Type Covers" feature a built in keyboard. They will come in all the Metro colors.
  • The Pro Surface will work with a specially designed stylus.
  • The Pro tablet will feature a third-gen Core i5 CPU from Intel, although the exact model is unknown
  • In a similar situation, the RT version will have an NVIDIA Tegra chipset, again what model is unknown at this stage
  • The Surface will be sold at select Microsoft Stores in the US

What we don't know:

  • The price. Microsoft claim the ARM-based Surface will be priced similarly to other ARM tablets, and the x86 version to be priced like ultrabooks; apart from that extremely vague indicator we have absolutely no idea.
  • Microsoft mentioned the tablets will be available around the general release of Windows 8. We don't know when that is, so really we don't know when the Surface will be available.
  • Will the Surface be available internationally? We asked Microsoft PR in Australia and they said they have "[no] information whatsoever" on its availability, so that's up in the air.
  • Other specs, such as the exact chipsets, RAM, cameras, connectivity, display type and full dimensions of both tablets
  • Battery life. We know the size of the batteries as 31.5 W-h (RT) and 42 W-h (Pro) but that doesn't really give much clue into what the battery life is.
  • Who is really manufacturing the Surface. It's not a branded device, but like the iPad, Microsoft is almost certainly not manufacturing it directly

Our guesses:

  • Price: The ARM-based Surface will probably retail for around $500, while the Pro Surface for around $800-900
  • Release: This rests on Windows 8, which indicates October (possibly September) for the RT Surface and January for the Pro Surface
  • Locales: The Surface will almost certainly be available outside North America, although possibly after the USA launch
  • Battery Life: A 31.5 W-h (watt-hour) battery is not enormous, but considering tablets such as the Asus Transformer Pad (with a 22 W-h battery) last eight hours we'll say at least that. Expect less for the Pro Surface.
  • Other specs: This is really up in the air. The ARM tablet will likely have 1 GB of RAM plus a quad-core Tegra 3 as the next-gen Tegra chips (Wayne) are not due until Q1 2013. The x86 tablet will probably have specs similar to that of an ultrabook (2 GB+ RAM plus a CULV Ivy Bridge chip)
  • Manufacturing: We honestly have no idea on this one; it could be anyone.

Do you have your own guesses about the unknowns involved with the Surface line of tablets? Let us know in the comments

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