Stuff I (might) like: Microsoft Surface tablet

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Microsoft just managed to do something that hasn’t been done in a loooooong time – launch an exciting new product without any leaks beforehand.

The product is their new Surface tablet and I have to say, it looks like a very attractive bit of kit.

This story has everything you need to know: Microsoft Surface Event 2012


According to the stuff I’ve been able to find, the Surface is less than 10mm thick, runs a Gorilla Glass 10.6-inch HD screen, two full USB ports and other media ports as well. It’ll come in two models, a standard version and Pro version with capacity up to 128GB and a built-in stylus. The Surface will be the feature machine for the launch of Windows 8.

I really love what I’m seeing so far about the cover – it attaches magnetically but acts as a keyboard and scrollwheel when connected. You can get either of two different covers, a ‘touch’ cover that’ll supposedly provide a better/faster typing experience than working on glass (not too hard to believe) or the ‘type’ cover, which adds actual clickable keys, whilst only adding 2mm to the cover’s thickness.

This photo shows the ‘touch’ cover, which will be available in five different colors.


I’ve been a Mac user for around 5 years now and I don’t think that’ll change in the near term. I have made efforts to keep my options open, however.

I made a New Years Resolution back in January that I wouldn’t get an iPhone or iPad (which I’ve stuck to) and I’ve tried to keep myself from getting too deep into Apple’s quicksand customer ecosystem. I really love the Apple products I’ve owned, but other than buying a few songs off iTunes, I don’t want to tie myself too tightly to their system.

I don’t own a tablet and when I tried an iPad earlier this year, I didn’t like it that much. My theory is that whilst many people love the iPad as media consumers, I skew more towards being a media creator, and the iPad just wasn’t that practical for me as someone who writes a lot. This looks like something I could get into if I had the tablet urge.

I changed from a Windows laptop to a Macbook Pro in 2009 and I welcomed the increased portability of the MBP, as well as its improved media-making performance and rendering (very important when you’re working on the web as I was). I’m not travelling anywhere near as much nowadays, but if I was, a fully functional tablet computer like this would make much more sense than an iPad and if it’s any good at photo-processing and movie making, you might even make a case for replacing the MBP.

I really hope the screen is a beauty because this looks like a nicely thought-out machine. And hey, it’d be nice to see Apple get some hipster competition, wouldn’t it? Keep the bastards honest, I say.

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  1. It looks expensive, hope I’m wrong though. I would have thought an iPad would be something good for your Wife’s work.

    1. I think it’ll be costly, Jason. The question is whether or not it’ll be worth it. The other question I have is how well it’ll function as a laptop replacement. The good thing about a laptop is that you can, you know, place it on your lap. I’m not sure how well this will work for that.

      But it’s certainly interesting. The new Nokia phones on Windows have been getting a good writeup, too. Nice to see MS getting some mojo.

    1. I’m not in the market for a traveller computer at the moment, but if I were then yeah, I’d take a look at both. I really prefer a laptop over a tablet because I write so much, but if I were going tablet, this would be worth a look.

  2. Microsoft always did better hardware than software. At least on this touch screen the new Win8 GUI makes more sense than on a non-touch computer.

    On the other hand, I’m getting the impression that the Pro version won’t be that cheap, for a tablet.

  3. You mean that for the iPad, you would have needed somthing like this:

    or that: ?

    Took me two minutes to find. There is no way around the iPad in terms of usability, expandibility, apps range, and continuity. Imagine you bought the Surface, and really found an adapter to connect to a projector (no problem for the iPad, not yet available for the Surface), and Microsoft decided to stop the Surface, or use once again a different dock connector on the next generation?

    1. “not yet available for the Surface”


      The machine hasn’t even been released yet!

      “or use once again a different dock connector on the next generation?”

      Like Apple did with Firewire and Thunderbolt, perhaps?

      They all do it, Thyl.

      I’m not saying I’ll go out and buy one, just that it’s interesting. I don’t think it needs to be shot down until people get their hands on it. As said, for my needs, it sounds more practical than the iPad, which I’ve used and didn’t like so much. I’m not a big app consumer so the app store isn’t much of a factor for me.

      1. The dock connector has been maintained the same since the introduction of the iPhone, and was only slightly changed over the iPod years. Firewire has been used for a very long time, and iirc, there is an adapter for TB. When I look at the gadget market, the situation is more volatile by far.

        With “not yet available” I was -admittedly- a bit provocative. It is of course more complicate to catch up, and I am pretty sure that there will be an HDMI adapter. But the rich ecosystem of the dock connector will be hard to beat.

        Overall, the situation very much resembles the one we had with “plays for Sure”. After several years without any success, Microsoft decides to come up with the infamous Zune, thereby killing business of its previous “partners”. Without having significant success of its own.

        Funny enough, I think that the Metro GUI is really the first innovative thing ever Microsoft came up with. I don’t quite understand why it has so little success, and found so few hardware/software supporters.

        1. I hear Apple is changing the dock connector so there goes that argument. I am an Apple guy don’t get me wrong but some of your arguments lacked a little in substance. Holding out with my iPhone4 until the 5 comes out;)

  4. Please stop the Apple, Android, Symbian, Windows, Linux etc best here best that piffle! It’s getting really really old.

    I can give Volvo credit for stuff they make but I would never buy a Volvo. But I’ve tried more than one.
    I have an iPhone4 and I absolutely Hate it. It’s restricted in more ways that I have fingers and toes and like Macs of old it hangs or even crash from time to time but Apple support say It’s fine and blame me as a user.
    But only because I find it totaly useless doesn’t make it wrong for somebody else and others may have a better example of a Apple phone than me. So I’m happy for you. I’m even happy for people buying a MacBook thinking it’s worth all the extra money over say an ASUS, even though the internal hardware is the same. If the MacBook makes them happy and they feel more at home with Mac OS I’m congratulating them.
    When it comes to computers and phones people have different preferenses.. Just like the make of ones car.
    Why is this such a hot potato topic?


    1. Sorry, you are right and I will stop it. I was just so surprised that Swade pointed to the keyboard for the Surface as a feature he apparently missed on the iPad, though it is available. And I know that mostly, Swade is well-informed.

      Really sorry.

  5. I completely fail to see the purpose of an iPad, or any tablet for that matter. I got a Macbook laptop, works fine.

    1. That indeed turned out to be a problem for me as well. However, my wife would like to have one so that she could read PDF papers in bed 😉

      1. “However, my wife would like to have one so that she could read PDF papers in bed”

        How long have you been married? Finally has come to that has it? 😀

  6. I agree it would be great if Microsoft could succeed with this – Apple does need some competition in the tablet world.

    At first glance I thought the cover/keyboard was brilliant. But then I thought about how a tablet is used. If you used an iPad for a few days, you may see how hanging a keyboard off every one would be more anchor than benefit. Microsoft has to bring something different to the party, and from their perspective making it more “laptop like” may seem a positive. But it isn’t a laptop. It is a tablet, and it is a joy to use in a way that a laptop isn’t.

    I got an iPad because I had to – I do web development and I need to see what sites look like on the iPad’s different view. What I discovered was the iPad is wonderful in very different ways than a laptop or desktop. I have no desire to make my iPad better for “real work”. I have a great laptop for that. The iPad becomes sort of a net escape machine. A calm way to read the news, check the weather, or even check up on that Tasmanian car guy.

  7. Looks vaguely interesting but although I am writing this on an iPad and have used said device extensively in the past few months whilst studying, my next major IT purchase will be a conventional computer. Probably a MacBook Air but possibly, after eleven years, a return to Windows depending how the new OS progresses. Ultimately I use a computer to create rather than consume. I find the iPad to be more suited to consumption, in my hands certainly and therefore not ideal.