Microsoft Surface: The feedback so far
Now the dust is starting to settle, we take a look at what everyone is saying about the two Microsoft Surface tablets
After three years of development, the fruits of Microsoft's labour is here in the form of two tablets, the Surface RT and the Surface Pro.
Both tablets aren't quite sure what they are. The 10.6-inch portable displays and touchscreen technology would suggest a pedigree comparable with that of the Apple iPad. But the ingenious Type Cover case and keyboard puts the tablets firmly in the sight of ultrabooks. Throw in a full version of Microsoft Office and you have a laptop competitor, too.
Before we get into the forest of critique, the two tablets are fundamentally different. Even though they have the same magnesium casing, which has been very carefully designed, the Surface RT comes with an ARM processor of the Nvidia Tegra 3 nature. It's lighter, smaller and has a kickstand to stand it up.
The Surface Pro is a lot heavier, thicker and has a higher resolution display. It's meant for professionals, as the names suggests, which is why the keyboard is thicker and has more tactile keys. It also boasts USB 3.0 support instead of USB 2.0, thanks to the powerful Intel Ivy Bridge processor.
So we know the main facts, let's take a look at how the news is going down.
Hardware and aesthetics
Microsoft stayed away from specs but we know both devices have a 10.6-inch display. We also know what each device is made of, and so far, nobody has faulted the build quality.
The Verge said: 'The design and build of the tablets the company has here feel very polished, with tight, clean lines. The device was also surprisingly light, barely feeling like it reached the full 1.5 pounds Microsoft is quoting. The 10.6-inch, 16:9 display also looked crystal clear at a variety of angles.'
Tech Crunch noted the quality of the kickstand, comparing the mechanism with that of a car door. 'The kickstand was made to click in and out on the tablet with ease and style, and a satisfying “snap” sound — the company says it spent lots of time developing the three hinges that make it work, modeling them after the doors on a luxury car,' the tech website explained.
Microsoft was keen to say the magnesium material is much better than plastic, which Tech Crunch picked up on: 'several times they pointed out to us that it’s far superior to plastic, which is pretty clear when you get a look and feel of it,' it said.
CNN was even more praising of the build quality, believing that, if dropped it would survive. 'I felt like I could drop it off a table without causing much damage, but I didn't think Microsoft would take kindly to an attempt to find out,' CNN's David Goldman reported.
Goldman mentioned there will be two versions of the keyboard available, one which has more tactile feedback. But journalists only had a go on the thinner Type Cover, which he said 'will take some getting used to. There's almost no way to feel where to place your hands without looking.'
CNET UK shared the same sentiment. 'The risk is that because the Touch Cover is basically flat, you won't get any tactile feedback as you type,' the UK tech website said.
According to Microsoft, the keyboard is able to tell the difference between a resting finger and a keystroke, something that can't be done with current glass displays. Whether this has any benefit, we've yet to hear - journalists had a very short time with the device.
Most opinion believes the slightly thicker Type Cover will prove the best for typing but it's too early to write off its thinner, less tactile sibling.