When Microsoft announced the Surface tablet, which packs an integrated kickstand and magnetically-attached Touch/Type Cover keyboard, many wondered just how well it would work in various usage scenarios. So far, I’ve been impressed with the device.
Placing the Surface on a – erm – surface, as you would with a traditional laptop, works extremely well, and you can even do it sans cover for a nice viewing experience or a family photo. Holding it in your hands works well too, despite its relatively large and quite wide 10.6-inch screen. It weighs about the same as an iPad, so if you can hold that device without your arms feeling fatigued, you’ll feel right at home with the Surface.
These scenarios, however, weren’t what people were worried about. I’m pleased to say that the Surface works great in your lap too. The Touch Cover is rigid enough to avoid bending while on your legs, and I hardly noticed the feel of the kickstand. Of course, if you’re the kind of person who likes to sit at an odd angle, you might have to straighten yourself a bit before getting work done. It works great on an airplane too. I took my Surface with me on a business trip, and I was surprised to discover that it fit perfectly on the tray table, allowing me to get work done or watch a video in comfort while in flight.
Overall, the Surface has proven to be very versatile and equipped for nearly every situation. The inclusion of the keyboard, large screen, and Office have made it easier to be both productive and entertained than any other tablet I’ve ever used.
Microsoft officially launched the Surface and Windows 8 in New York City today, priming the pump for general availability at midnight tonight. Panos Panay, the General Manager of the Surface team, joined Windows and Windows Live President Steven Sinofsky on stage to show off the beautiful device, which blurs the line between tablets and laptops. Put simply, “Surface is the ultimate expression of Windows.”
The two went into great detail regarding the design of the Surface, from the custom 10.6-inch 16:9 display to the Touch Cover, integrated kickstand, weight, microSDXC card slot, and camera design. Passion for the device excuded from Sinofsky and Panay, and it was easy to see just how excited they were to be showing the device off to the world. At one point, Sinofsky even gave his Surface a big hug.
Microsoft launched its Surface ad campaign during Monday Night Football this evening, highlighting the device’s great features and distinctive clicking sound. The TV spot, dubbed “The Surface Movement,” is a departure from your typical Microsoft advertisement, but it still does a great job of appealing to all sorts of people.
Musically, it’s not all that dissimilar from the original Surface teaser, thanks to its catchy, upbeat score with just a bit of dubstep. In addition to highlighting the touch/type cover’s magnetic hinge, the spot showcases the device’s touchscreen, handy kickstand, and wide range of colors. Students, kids, business professionals, and even grandparents are shown using, dancing with, and spinning around the Surface.
Microsoft Surface launches on October 26, alongside Windows 8. We still don’t many details about the exact specs and pricing, but there are rumors that these important pieces of information will be announced tomorrow. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to click in.
When the Microsoft Surface tablet launches in two weeks alongside Windows 8, it’ll be sold exclusively at Microsoft Stores. This is in comparison to the hundreds of other Windows 8 PCs and devices - from manufacturers like Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Samsung, and Sony - which have already gone up for pre-order through a variety of retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, and the Microsoft Store. But, according to Microsoft watcher Paul Thurrott, “major retailers will be selling Surface starting early next year.”
This delay is likely to give Microsoft’s partners time to sell their devices in the market before customers begin to flock to Microsoft’s debut first-party PC. Thurrott’s statement has also been backed up by Neowin’s sources, which claim that Best Buy will have the device in stock in January – just in time to sell the Surface Pro. We still don’t know what how the Surface and Surface Pro will be priced, let alone many of the technical specs. But with only 12 days until the big launch event in New York, we shouldn’t have to wait long.
Acer has announced that its 11.6-inch Iconia W700 tablet will retail for $800 starting on October 26. The device includes a special “tri-mode” optimized touch, typing, and viewing, and it has an attachable keyboard. Other specs include a 1920 x 1080 IPS display, 1MP front-facing camera and 5MP back-facing camera, an Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM, and USB 3.0. $800 will get you a Core i3 processor and 64GB of storage, $900 will bump you up to a Core i5 processor, and the $1,000 model features both a Core i5 processor and 128GB of storage.
AT&T, meanwhile, is showing off two new Windows 8 tablets that will be arriving on its network on Windows 8 launch day: the ASUS VivoTab RT and the Samsung ATIV Smart PC.
As you might expect, ASUS’ offering is a thin-and-light Windows RT tablet equipped with 4G LTE. The 10.1-inch Super IPS display with ASUS TruVivid technology is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 32GB of storage.
The Samsung device goes for the other segment of the market, featuring a detachable keyboard for switching between a clamshell notebook PC and a tablet PC. It has a slightly larger 11.6-inch HD PLS display, and it includes an Intel Clover Trail 1.5Ghz dual-core processor and 64GB of storage. It’ll also run Windows 8, for full compatibility with legacy desktop applications.
Barnes & Noble has announced its 2012 lineup of NOOK tablets, the 9-inch NOOK HD+ and the 7-inch NOOK HD. Both tablets are designed to take on Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, as well as – in some ways – the iPad.
The NOOK HD+ features a 9-inch HD display running at a resolution of 1920 x 1280 with 259 PPI. The device is powered by a 1.5GHz OMAP4470 dual-core processor and enough battery for up to ten hours of reading or nine hours of video playback. It’s noticeably lighter than the competition at 18.2 ounces, and it measures 9.5 x 6.4 x .45 inches. WiFi, an HDMI port, and a microSD card slot also come standard, allowing you to upgrade the 16GB or 32GB of internal storage by up to an additional 64GB.
The NOOK HD, on the other hand, has a slightly smaller 7-inch screen (1440 x 900, 243 PPI) set into an equally thin and light 11.1 ounce, 7.7 x 5 x .43 inch body. It too includes WiFi and a 1.3GHz dual-core processor, and it’s rated at 10.5 hours of battery for reading or nine hours of juice for video playback.
Wal-Mart has decided to stop selling Kindle e-readers and tablets in what is no doubt a bid to slow the juggernaut that is Amazon. Kindle devices are increasingly becoming the center of Amazon’s digital strategy, thanks to the deep integration with Kindle e-books, Audible audiobooks, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon MP3, Amazon Cloud Drive, the Amazon Appstore for Android, and much more.
This move follows a similar decision by Target last spring, and seems to imply that brick and mortar stores are becoming afraid of these devices that are, in a sense, merely a gateway to a competitor’s digital storefront. While Wal-Mart and Target will end up missing out on sales of the hugely popular Kindle tablets and e-readers, the companies hope to benefit in the long run. Of course, it’s unlikely that this move will actually hurt Amazon. If you’re going to buy a Kindle, why wouldn’t you go directly through Amazon? Even the “I need the device soon” argument doesn’t carry much weight when the retailer offers such fast shipping on the devices.
I certainly don’t know anyone who’s purchased a Kindle in a physical store. Do you?
The Windows Store currently has more than 1,000 apps ready for download, but all of these apps were published by pre-approved developers. Today, that changes. Microsoft has opened up the floodgates, allowing any developer to submit his or her Windows 8 app for certification and publication in the Windows Store.
Developers in more than 120 markets (up from the previous 38) can submit their apps for inclusion in first-ever app marketplace on a Windows operating system. While Microsoft normally charges an annual fee for access – $49 for individuals or $99 for companies – there are also a number of ways to get complementary access, such as MSDN subscriptions, BizSpark, and the DreamSpark program for students.
If you’re not a developer, this means that you’ll soon be able to download many, many new apps for your brand new Windows 8 PC or tablet. With just over six weeks until the big Windows 8 launch, the number of app submissions is sure to skyrocket.
Amazon announced a bevy of new devices at its press conference this morning, including two new Kindle Fire tablets, an updated Kindle Fire, and a traditional Kindle with new Paperwhite technology.
The Kindle Fire HD is the successor to Amazon’s incredibly successful Kindle Fire tablet. The Fire HD features a much larger 8.9-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS display with 254ppi. The 8.8mm thick 20 ounce device is powered by a 1.8GHz dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor, 1GB of RAM, an HD front-facing camera, dual stereo speakers, HDMI out, and Bluetooth. It’ll come in a variety of models, including WiFi only (in either the 16GB or 32GB variety) and WiFi plus 4G LTE (with either 32GB or 64GB). The former model will start at $299, while the latter starts at $499 and is obviously designed to take on more high-end tablets. The Fire HD’s 4G LTE won’t be free, but Amazon has managed to make it cheap enough that it is hardly an issue: $50 a year for 250MB per month.
Amazon has announced that the Kindle Fire, its bestselling Android tablet, has gone out of stock ahead of the expected unveiling of the company’s 2012 hardware lineup next week. The Kindle Touch model is unavailable as well. Amazon, of course, is keeping quiet on the subject of next-generation hardware, instead choosing to highlight the Kindle Fire’s massive success in the marketplace, where it has managed to grab 22% of all tablet sales in the US.
We don’t know exactly what Amazon has in store for next week, but it’s certain to include a new lineup of Kindles, including 7- and 10-inch models for the Kindle Fire. The new Kindle e-readers are rumored to feature a new Paperwhite display and a number of images of the new Kindle Fire have hit the internet, sporting a significantly updated interface, a front-facing camera and Nokia Maps technology.
What do you want to see Amazon unveil next week in Las Angeles?