Microsoft Surface: How the tablet stacks up to its competitors

Microsoft on Monday announced the arrival of a tablet called the Surface, a device that aims to siphon market share from Apple and Google. Hayley Tsukayama reports:

Microsoft on Monday unveiled its own tablet that features the Windows 8 operating system in a late attempt to take on Apple and Google who are dominating the white-hot space. The Microsoft Surface stands out from other offerings, with a built-in kickstand and keyboard cover. But the Redmond software giant didn’t announce when the product would be available or a price tag, which left many questions surrounding the company’s ability to woo consumers away from a flood of competing devices.

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There are two versions of the tablet, one for Windows RT and one with Intel chips to run Windows 8. The RT version will come in 32 GB and 64 GB models; the Windows 8 Pro version will run in 64GB or 128 GB flavors.

The tablets are 9.3mm thick and 13.5 mm thick, respectively, with two full-size USB ports. They will weigh 1.5 pounds and 1.9 pounds according to the company’s Web site, with a 10.6-inch display.

In a challenge to Apple, the cover of the device will function as a full keyboard, and is 3mm thick that attaches with a magnetic edge similar to the iPad’s Smart Cover. It also has a built-in kickstand, CNET reported, to make it easier to hold and use. There are two versions of the cover — thin and thick, depending on how you prefer your keyboard.

How does the Surface measure up to the iPad, which so far dominates the tablet space? Hayley Tsukayama compares some of their features:

Screen size: Both versions of the tablet boast 10.6-inch screens, bigger than the iPad’s 9.7-inch display. The company promises that the Surface will have an “HD display,” but hasn’t offered specifics that could be matched up against the iPad’s “Retina display.” CNET reports that the Surface has a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Weight: The RT version is lighter than its counterpart, weighing in at 1.5 pounds rather than 1.9 pounds. Both are heavier than the 1.4 pound iPad (well, the cellular version is 1.46 pounds), but still impressively light.

Casing: Microsoft made a big deal out of its “VaporMg” finish on the case, which is supposed to make the tablet easy to grip. And where the iPad is all smooth aluminum contours, Microsoft has opted for a more angular approach.

Thickness: The RT tablet itself is about iPad-depth at .37 inches thick, while the Windows 8 Pro version is .53 inches thick.

The Associated Press outlines the unusual conundrum Microsoft faces with the debut of the device:

With the unveiling of the Surface tablet, Microsoft is heading into unusual territory: competing with its partners, the very same companies that make Windows PCs. But Microsoft has little to lose, since PC manufacturers are having little success with their own tablets.

With the unveiling of its tablet this week Microsoft Corp. is taking up the competition with Apple Inc. and its iPad by borrowing a page from Apple’s playbook. It is keeping both software and hardware development under the same roof.

“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the compliments from Microsoft poured down like a torrential storm on Apple last night,” said analyst Brian White at Topeka Capital Markets.

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