Microsoft’s Surface announcement


Last night I watched the CNET feed of their attendees comments during a mysterious event hosted by Microsoft. The event was to announce a new tablet from Microsoft to be called Surface. The audience was small and attendees were specifically selected. The attendees from CNET were posting information during the presentations by Ballmer, Sinofsky and others. You can see their comments and pictures of the device beginning on page 4 of this CNET page.

Perspective

My perspective is that Microsoft wanted to get feedback on some features from the assembled cynics to work out what needs to be improved. Sure, they didn’t mention battery life or 4G support or the RAM or speed. These questions are good but I’m sure Microsoft takes this for granted. For sure I wasn’t thinking of a 1.2Ghz CPU with 256MB RAM and 1 hour battery life. Surely their question is: what else?

Basics

The device is to be 10.6′ in a 16:9 format that’s 0.9mm thick and weighs in at ~690g. There will be two flavors: ARM and Intel powered. My impression is that both variants will come with a version of Office included. However the Intel variant will be full Windows and, so presumably, full Office.

Keyboard

A major part of the presentation was to announce that Surface will come with their solution to the tablet’s keyboard problem. On-screen keyboards are useful in a pinch but are pretty much unusable in my opinion. The keyboard is to be one side of the cover which will be attached magnetically so it can be removed entirely when not needed. There will be two keyboard options: ‘touch’ and ‘type’. The ‘touch’ variant will be 1.5mm thick and offer basic typing. The ‘type’ variant will be thicker (3mm?) and feature a track pad and a better typing experience. Microsoft want the Intel/Type combination of Surface features to be a tablet that is a plausible replacement for the humble laptop. This will surely play well in the enterprise market because this is a lightweight tablet but running Windows with all the OS features sys admins know and can use to secure their environment.

Screen

One of the posts by Seth Rosenblatt @ 12:36 (page 6) comments that the screen is 600dpi. No more comment was made but if that’s true, this is enormous. The screen diagonal is 10.6′ in a 16:9 format. That makes it, about, 9′ wide or 5600 pixels wide. If true, that puts a retina display in the shade. It means that one logical pixel can be 4 or 9 physical pixels which will make for superb graphics as every logical pixel can show a range of color hues not just one.

Tablets are useless to me because of the small display and because there is no keyboard. Like a muppet I followed the crowd and sunk £340 on an Android tablet and feel I’ve been fleeced. Not even the kids use so now its an expensive but small and only occasionally used TV. Why would I pay more for a less functional tablet than I would for a laptop?

That said, most laptops these days have low resolutions. So I stick to my aging Inspiron 9300 and Vostro 5510 because they have 1920×1400 screens. If surface really does have a high res screen then it’s going to look attractive. Of course, that’s *if*.

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Reader Comments

From the transcript, the 600dpi seems to refer to the pen input (which is quite low – Wacom Cintiq is 5000dpi). PC Pro in UK are reporting screen resolutions of 1366×768 for the ARM version and 1920 x 1080 for the i5 version.

Yes, you’re right. Shame. A bit of wishful thinking.