Microsoft Surface – need to know

We've pooled all the info on Microsoft's latest slivers of tech wizardry into one place. Click on for some portable Windows 8 goodness

Microsoft has announced a pair of shiny new Surface tablets – The Surface Windows RT and Surface Windows 8 Pro – to usher in a new touchable era of Windows 8 on the go, along with some potentially game-changing accessories. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Microsoft Surface Windows RT tablet – design and build

The Windows RT Surface measures in at a svelte 9.3mm thin with a 676g weight, and is made out of VaporMG, a magnesium alloy which provides a premium and incredibly solid finish. Did we mention it has a kickstand? Because it has one of those too.

Microsoft Surface Windows RT tablet – screen

The Windows RT Surface tablet has a 10.6in ClearType HD screen, with an expected 1366x768 resolution.

Microsoft Surface Windows RT tablet – power

Beneath its magnesium alloy chassis, the RT Surface tablet contains an Nvidia (probably Tegra 3) processor, although RAM is still unknown. That puts the Microsoft Surface RT tablet on par with the likes of the Asus Transformer Prime in the specs department, so it will be interesting to see whether Ice Cream Sandwich or Windows RT runs faster on the same silicon.

Microsoft Surface Windows RT tablet – connectivity

You'll have 32GB or 64GB of storage to play with, along with a microSD, USB 2.0, and Micro HD video port. A dual Wi-Fi antenna will also ensure good reception no matter how you hold the slate. A 31.5W-h battery finishes off the spec sheet, although battery life has been kept quiet so far. Both models of the Surface also appear to have a proprietary MagSafe-like charging connector.

Microsoft Surface Windows RT tablet – OS

The RT edition of the Microsoft surface tablet will offer up a more stripped down version of the Windows 8 Pro model, meaning that you won't be able to load or run full Windows programmes. Metro apps are good to go however, and (oddly) unlike the Pro model, the Windows RT Surface owners will have Microsoft Office pre-installed.

Microsoft Surface Windows RT tablet – price and release date

Microsoft has kept pricing information very close to the chest, offering nothing but the statement that the Windows RT Surface tablet will be priced similarly to other Windows 8 tablets upon its release later this Autumn.

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet – design and build

The Pro model is a fair sight heavier than its RT sibling, tipping the scales at a heftier 930g, with a thickness of 13.5mm. A fair bit chunkier then, but with good reason (which we'll get onto later). You'll also have the same kickstand mechanism for easier movie watching or word processing on the go.

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet – screen

The Windows 8 Pro Surface tablet also has a 10.6in ClearType HD screen, with a beefier 1080p resolution. Not a hair on the new iPad 3's Retina Display then, but a very decent offering nonetheless.

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet – power

Rip open the Pro version of the Surface and you'll see why it's packing a bit of extra thickness – an Intel i5 processor is powering the show. Welcome to grown-up laptop territory folks. RAM specs remain elusive once again, but we'd expect at least 2GB given the inclusion of the i5 processor.

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet – connectivity

64GB or 128GB of memory will please power users, as will the speedier USB 3.0 port, microSDXC and Mini DisplayPort. The dual Wi-Fi antenna is also present, and a larger 42W-h battery should hopefully be enough to power that Intel processor for more than just a few hours.

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet – OS

The Pro edition of the Microsoft surface tablet will offer the full WIndows 8 experience, desktop and all. This means that you can have the full power of programmes like Photoshop at your fingertips, in addition to Metro apps. The longshot is that the Windows 8 Pro Surface could be the first tablet fill the role of a laptop entirely. Exciting isn't it?

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet – price and release date

The Pro model is expected to be placed in the same price bracket as Ultrabooks, which sounds a little pricey to us, but we'll just have to wait and see till its release date which is tentatively slated as being 90 days after the RT model's.

The Microsoft Surface tablet also has a trio of accessories at launch, which includes a couple of screen covers and a pen. Dismiss them as unnecessary clutter at your peril though – they've got more brains than you might think.

Microsoft Surface – Touch Cover and Type Cover

The Touch Cover is similar to Apple's Smart Cover in that it magnetically attaches to the Surface and shields its display from harm. Unlike its i-counterpart however, the Touch Cover has an inbuilt pressure sensitive multi-touch trackpad and keyboard – a marvel given its 3mm thickness.

The Type cover is a bit thicker at 5mm, but has an actual chiclet keyboard built into it for people who'd like to take their typing a little more seriously. Both covers also have an accelerometer so that they automatically turn off when folded back over the screen. We're not sure how Microsoft managed to pack all this tech into 3-5mm slivers of screen protection, but we're glad it did.

Microsoft Surface – Pen with Palm Block

The Microsoft Surface WIndows 8 Pro tablet can also play nice with a pen input at 600dpi resolution, along with a handy palm block feature which stops your hand from interfering with your doodling and note taking.

Microsoft Surface – first impressions

Microsoft suprised us all with it's sleek and polished pair of Surface tablets. Both seem to have nailed the combination of premium design with useful functionality, though we'll have to wait and see how well our fingers get on with the likes of those fancy keyboard accessories in our full in-depth review. With the possibility of the Pro model filling the role of both laptop and tablet, Microsoft has got us very excited indeed. Bring on Autumn, we say.

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