After a week of speculation, Microsoft announced that it will be launching a tablet to call its own: Microsoft Surface. So far, the reviews have been fairly positive, albeit very few have actually gotten their hands on the device. Those that have – including writers at Wired, TechCrunch, Mashable, eWeek and others – were of course quite eager to share their initial impressions.
Here are clips from some of the more notable reviews:
Overall Look and Feel - From Dana Wollman, Engadget:
“None of this might make sense until you touch one yourself, but it’s our job to at least help you understand: the Surface really is as rigid and lightweight as Microsoft’s executive team promised us it would be. The magnesium casing makes it wholly inflexible, and we mean that in the best possible way. As thin and light as it is (9.3mm / 1.49 pounds), there isn’t a hint of give in the whole chassis. Were it not for fear of scratching that 10.6-inch display (HD on the RT model, Full HD 1080p on the Pro), we wouldn’t have too many qualms about accidentally dropping it: the magnesium is as smooth and scratch-resistant as it is sturdy. Heck, even the display is coated in second-generation Gorilla Glass, so maybe we shouldn’t handle this thing with kid gloves. Bonus: the whole package seems relatively impervious to fingerprints — at least on the rear. And remember, this is after dozens of tech writers put their curious paws on it.”
On Kickstands and Covers - From Colleen Taylor, TechCrunch:
“First we got a look at the kickstand that’s built in to the Surface, which is a clear differentiator from the iPad, for which users have to buy separate accessories. The kickstand was made to click in and out on the tablet with ease and style, and a satisfying “snap” sound — the company says it spent lots of time developing the three hinges that make it work, modeling them after the doors on a luxury car.
Next we looked at the included cover, which doubles as a touch keyboard. It has a soft rubbery feeling, but the keys don’t compress when you touch them. It also does not bend at all, unlike iPad covers — obviously, as it does more than just cover the screen. Microsoft says it made the hinges and cover to give it a bookish feeling. They come in several different colors.”
Pen Input – From Ian Thompson, The Register:
The Surface takes pen input from a magnetically-attached stylus and there are also covers, that come in an array of colours that range from funky to sombre. The covers house a multitouch keyboard with trackpad on the inside. A 3mm-thick Touch Cover or a 5mm TypeCover with moving keys are offered. An integrated kickstand means the tablet can be propped up at an angle of 22 degrees.
Pricing and Availaibility – From Jon Phillips, Wired:
We don’t know much, save that Surface for Windows RT will launch when Windows 8 launches, which we expect to happen in the third quarter of this year. Surface for Windows 8 Pro should launch three months after the RT iteration. As for pricing, Microsoft isn’t saying, but Gartenberg weighs in:
“I’m guessing somewhere between $600 and $1000 — Microsoft was very vague. This the problem you encounter when you launch something so far ahead of delivery,” he said.
All About the Windows 8 OS – From Gregg Keizer, CIO.com:
“Think of it this way: Windows RT is to Windows 8 as Apple’s iOS is to OS X. The two within each pair clearly have a shared history, some shared code, but are distinct operating systems designed for different classes of devices, and run on completely different, and incompatible, processor platforms.
Both OS X and Windows 8 run on Intel’s x86/64 processor architecture, while iOS and Windows RT work only on devices with ARM-licensed CPUs.
Those include a handful of Microsoft-made applications, most notably Office and Internet Explorer 10 (IE10), that run on a “classic” desktop — a mode and user interface (UI) within Windows RT that Microsoft included largely so it could bundle four Office programs — Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote — with the operating system.”
Surface, The iPad Rival? – From Wayne Rash, eWeek:
The differences may seem slight, but they are very real. While the Surface will vie for market share in some parts of their respective shared markets, it’s not a direct iPad rival. Instead, the Surface is designed to operate on a different level from the iPad. There will be buyers for the Surface who would never consider an iPad, and buyers for the iPad for whom the Surface is not the answer.
But what will catch the attention of the iPad fanciers is that the Surface is a brilliant piece of industrial design. The Surface was clearly manufactured to very tight tolerances, and it looks it.
On breaking the mold – From Lance Ulanoff, Mashable:
With its new Surface Tablet, Microsoft didn’t just break the mold. It smashed it into a million little pieces, chucked them all into the furnace and set the temperature to obliterate. There really is no precedent for what Microsoft did this week. What was once recognizable is gone. The expected is no more. There are no rules, only supply and the possibility of demand.
Microsoft finally built the tablet it wants to use for its platform: an ultra-thin, superlight, kick-stand-sporting, brainiac-cover wearing, touch screen wonder that elicited dozens of “I wants” in Mashable’s live blog chatter.
What do you think of Microsoft’s first major foray into the tablet space? Let us know in the comment section.