The Microsoft Surface (RT) – Out Today
Today marks the launch of Windows 8 and perhaps more importantly, Microsoft’s first foray into the hardware market with the launch of their Surface tablet.
Traditionally, Windows products have never been renowned for their product design. Original equipment manufacturers such as HP, Acer and Dell seem to put cheap manufacturing costs ahead of quality hardware design. It is something that has perhaps damaged the reputation of Windows with cheap, unintuitive tablets being released ever since the Windows XP-era.
Microsoft hope to change this, and tackle Apple head on, with the release of their Surface tablet. As the standard bearer for the Windows 8 touch-centric operating system, the Microsoft Surface is undoubtedly an engineering marvel. From the magnesium alloy metal body to the impossibly thin (3 millimetre!) touch keyboard, the design is impeccable.
The attention to detail and passion that the team at Microsoft put into the design of the Surface is evident when watching any interview. The kickstand rests at a 22 degree angle, the optimum viewing angle when resting on a flat surface. When closed it fits flush against the device and folds out with a satisfying click. Microsoft stated that their goal with the kickstand was to instil confidence. Surface users should be able to flip it out, certain that it will snap into place and securely hold the device up.
Similar consideration has obviously gone into the keyboard port which connects and latches into place magnetically. It is impossible to plug-in the keyboard incorrectly. The magnets are positioned so that they align and clamp the keyboard perfectly into place, ensuring correct attachment first time, every time. The “Click In” that Microsoft uses in its Surface marketing is another point of reassurance. Hear the click and know that the keyboard is securely attached. The magnets are strong enough to support the weight of the Surface tablet itself.
The tapered sides are angled just right so that it fits into your hands and feels like you are carrying a book. Even the rear mounted camera is angled so that when propped up with the kick stand if faces forward. All of this, coupled with the Gorilla glass protected screen and scratch resistant VapourMg casing (a form of lightweight magnesium alloy) gives a premium feel to Microsoft’s first Windows hardware release. It certainly feels like something you would see coming out of the Steve Jobs-era Cupertino, California rather than from Redmond, Washington.
All-in-all the Microsoft Surface is a compelling product and one that certainly rivals the iPad in terms of product design. Will be able to compete with the lower price of the newly launched iPad Mini?
weight = 1.5 pounds
thickness = 9.4 millimetres
screen size = 10.6 inches
screen resolution = 1366×768 pixels
connectivity = Dual-band Wireless n wi-fi
storage = 32 or 64 gigabytes
starting price = US $499 / £399