The verdict is in and alas the new Microsoft Surface does not support PixelSense as I first theorized. The good news there is a lot to like about the new Microsoft Surface. First off, Surface sports a 10.6", 16:9 widescreen HD Display along with Microsoft's ClearType HD Display technology and multitouch. It also has an ultra-wide viewing angle and comes with an integrated Kickstand and what Microsoft calls a "revolutionary, 3mm thin, pressure sensitive cover" that doubles as a fully functioning keyboard and trackpad. Your Touch Cover connects to your Surface with a single magnetic click for instant plug and play keyboard/trackpad action!
While I theorized incorrectly about PixelSense support, I hoped the new Microsoft Surface would feature Skype with some nice Skype integration. Well good news! Surface has two cameras called LifeCam that works very well with Skype. Use the front LifeCam to video chat or use the rear-facing LifeCam, which is angled to 22 degrees so you can flip out the Kickstand and record meetings and events hands-free as seen here:
Microsoft Surface has your typical stereo speakers, but it also sports dual microphones tuned for Skype. Having two microphones is a huge hardware advantage that does improve audio, especially if it features noise cancellation, which I suspect it does. Definitely a consumer and enterprise video conferencing / telepresence play here. The Microsoft acquisition of Skype is starting to make sense.
Two editions were actually announced. Surface for Windows RT and Surface for Windows 8 Pro. They look identical, but the Pro version is a bit thicker due to the bigger battery needed for the beefier Intel Core i5 processor and higher resolution (1080p) screen. Let's look at the specs / features for each:
Surface for Windows RT tablet
- Processor: NVIDIA-made ARM chip
- Weight: 676 grams
- Thickness: 9.3 millimeters
- Display: 10.6-inch ClearType HD capactive touchpanel, 1366 x 768
- I/O: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
- Software: Windows RT + Office Home & Student 2013 RT
- Accessories: Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand
- Capacity: 32GB / 64GB
- Battery: 31.5Wh
- Availability: Around the Windows 8 launch (Fall 2012)
- Pricing: To be determined
- Processor: Intel Core i5 (Ivy Bridge)
- Weight: 903 grams
- Thickness: 13.5 millimeters
- Display: 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD (1080p) capactive touchpanel
- I/O: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, 2x2 MIMO antennae
- Software: Windows 8 Pro
- Accessories: Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand, Pen with Palm Block
- Capacity: 64GB / 128GB
- Battery: 42Wh
- Availability: 3 months after the Windows 8 launch this fall
- Pricing: To be determined
Both the Windows 8 Pro and the Windows 8 RT look like they will make a serious dent in the Apple iPad's market share. I'm torn between getting the faster/heavier Pro or the lighter/slower RT. Decisions, decisions...
I should mention that the surface casing of Microsoft Surface is pretty cool. Called VaporMg, it is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid/strong.