June 18, 2012 at 7:57 PM ET
Microsoft announced a brand new line of internally-designed tablets at an event in Hollywood on Monday. The Surface tablets, as they are calling them, are extremely thin and light, and were designed with Windows 8 in mind.
There are plain (RT) and pro versions, but both have 10.6-inch 16:9 screens and built-in kickstands, the better with which to watch movies and TV shows. The screen cover detaches and works as a full-on keyboard and multitouch trackpad; there's a second cover that has an actual mechanical keyboard and clicking buttons.
The rear, with folding kickstand, can be seen below. The designer emphasized the high quality of the materials and parts, comparing opening the kickstand to opening the door of a high-end car.
Above, the Typecase, which has an actual tactile keyboard, compared with the Touchcase (below, in pink), which is flat and pressure sensitive..
The case is the first of its kind, they say: made of magnesium, which is often used to form the rigid bodies of professional cameras, but Microsoft has a new process for molding it that they call VaporMg. The RT version is 9.3mm (0.37 inches) thick and weighs just 1.5 pounds.
The Pro version is thicker, but it also has a more high-resolution screen (1920x1080), a more powerful Intel processor, and built-in support for pen input. It tips the scales at 2 pounds and is just over half an inch thick.
They're also fitted out with ports for the usual things: microSD, USB, video out. There are cameras on the front and rear for pictures and video, and the one on the front is actually angled a bit so you can talk while the tablet is leaning on its kickstand. Inside, you can get up to 64GB of storage on the RT and 128GB on the Pro.
More info and pictures can be found at the new Surface site; price wasn't announced specifically, but was described at the event as competitive with ultrabooks. The RT tablets will be available when Windows 8 launches (supposedly in October), and the Pro tablets three months later.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.
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