Microsoft on Monday announced the Surface tablet during a press conference in Los Angeles, California. Rumors leading up to the event suggested that the Redmond-based company had an own-brand tablet in store, and a leaked spec sheet that emerged on Monday pointed to an Xbox-focused slate that would merge entertainment, gaming and high-definition output into a 7-inch tablet that would mark Microsoft’s premiere entry into the market. Bits and pieces of various rumors ended up panning out, and Microsoft unveiled its first own-brand Windows tablet line.
UPDATE: Be sure to check out our hands-on with the Microsoft Surface tablet.
“Surface fulfills the dream of working anywhere,” Microsoft said of the 9.3-millimeter thick tablet, which includes a magnesium case that weighs less than 1.5 pounds and features an integrated stand to prop the device up while watching videos or typing on a Bluetooth keyboard. The 10.6-inch high-definition display on the Surface is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 2, and it includes a magnetic connector to hold a case in place.
The new Surface tablet ships with a number of popular Microsoft apps, including Xbox live, and it includes a native Netflix app as well. USB 2.0 and HDMI-out ports are both on board, as are rear and front-facing cameras. An Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor powers the Windows 8 Pro version of the Surface, which sports a unique vented active cooling system. The Windows RT version of the tablet will be powered by an ARM-based chipset.
Microsoft’s Surface tablet supports both finger and stylus input, as well as 600 dpi “Digital Ink” for drawing, writing and marking up documents. The device also supports a “Touchcover” with an integrated keyboard.
“This was built as a stage for Windows 8,” Microsoft’s Panos Panay said while on stage at the press conference. “It was important that we have hardware fade to the background so Windows 8 can come to the surface.”
Two Surface tablets will be available at launch, one running Windows 8 Pro and one running Windows RT, and pricing will be “like comparable tablets based on ARM” for the RT model, and in line with Ultrabooks for the Windows 8 Pro version. The Windows RT model will be available with either 32GB or 64GB of storage, and the Windows 8 Pro model will come with either 64GB or 128GB of storage.
More information about the new Surface Tablet can be found on Microsoft’s website.