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Microsoft unveils tablet computer

Steve Ballmer launching Surface

Microsoft has made a move into the tablet computer market with the launch of Surface, demonstrated by chief executive Steve Ballmer, pictured, at an event in Hollywood.

The device will be available with either Intel or ARM based processors. Intel based devices will feature a third generation processor running the forthcoming Windows 8 operating system. ARM based devices will run Windows RT, the variant of the OS targeted specifically at the ARM architecture. According to industry sources, ARM based versions of Surface will feature an nVidia Tegra processor.
The device is supplied with what Microsoft calls the Touch Cover. This is a 3mm thick pressure sensitive interface that is said by Microsoft to recognise keystrokes as gestures, enabling faster touch typing than an on screen approach. Touch Cover attaches via a magnetic connector and is said to resemble the spine of a book. A 5mm thick option will be available feature moving keys.
Microsoft is also pointing to the construction of Surface. It has used an approach called VaporMg to create the casing. The magnesium based technique can create parts as thin as 0.65mm, with the whole device said to be thin, light and rigid.
The RT version weighs 676g and is 9.3mm thick. Power consumption is said to be 31.5Whr. The Intel variant is heavier at 903g and thicker at 13.5mm. Power consumption is also higher, at 42Whr. Both have a 10.6in high definition display. ARM based tablets will have a choice of 32 or 64Gbyte of storage, while Intel devices will have either 64 or 128Gbyte.
Microsoft will sell the device through its US outlets and online. It says Surface will be 'price competitive' with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook class pc.

Author
Graham Pitcher

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