Microsoft Surface tablet PC uses Intel or ARM

Microsoft unveiled its own range of tablet PCs at an event in Hollywood today (19 June 2012) set to run on its upcoming Windows 8 operating system.

Repurposing the name of its old touch computer, Surface will be available in both Intel and ARM variants, with Microsoft saying that Nvidia would provide the system-on-chip for the ARM device.

The Intel-based tablet is called Surface for Windows 8 Pro, while Microsoft called the ARM device “Surface for Windows RT”. According to Microsoft, the Intel device will run existing Windows applications.

Surface for Windows RT will have the following specifications, according to Microsoft:

Surface for Windows RT

  • OS: Windows RT
  • Weight: 676 g
  • Thickness: 9.3 mm
  • 10.6” ClearType HD Display
  • Battery: 31.5 Wh
  • microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
  • Office ‘15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover
  • VaporMg Case & Stand
  • 32 GB, 64 GB
Microsoft's Surface tablet PC

Microsoft provided the following specifications for the Surface for Windows 8 Pro :

Surface for Windows 8 Pro

  • OS: Windows 8 Pro
  • Weight: 903 g
  • Thickness: 13.5 mm
  • 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display
  • Battery 42 W-h
  • microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
  • Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
  • VaporMg Case & Stand
  • 64 GB, 128 GB

Both devices feature front- and rear-facing cameras.

VaporMg case

The casing of Surface is created using an approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), Microsoft said in a press statement accompanying the announcement of the Surface.

According to Microsoft, this involves a combination of material selection and a process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch.

Microsoft Surface with kickstand deployed and touch cover attached
Microsoft Surface with kickstand deployed and touch cover attached

Integrated kickstand, touch cover and keyboard

Microsoft said that its VaporMg approach enabled it to include a built-in kickstand. The kickstand is there when needed, Microsoft said, and disappears when not in use, adding no extra weight or thickness.

Another interesting hardware feature included with the Surface is its Touch Cover accessory. This magnetic cover is similar to that available for Apple’s iPad, but doubles as a keyboard.

The cover uses pressure-sensitive technology to sense keystrokes as gestures, which Microsoft reckons lets users touch type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard.

It clicks into Surface via a built-in magnetic connector, forming a natural spine – like you find on a book – and will be available in a selection of colours, Microsoft said.

You can also click in a 5mm thick Type Cover that adds tactile keys with 1.5mm of travel for a more traditional typing feel.

Suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability, but Microsoft said that it is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PCs.

“OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT,” Microsoft said.

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Microsoft Surface tablet PC uses Intel or ARM