We have already posted about the launch of the Surface Tablet from Microsoft, seen its images, and the basic specifications of each of the variants. Now we will see some more amazing things about the Surface Tablet ! These have been gathered from the Surface Launch session presented by Steve Ballmer, Steven Sinofsky, Michael Angiulo and Panos Panay !
Just as Microsoft reimagined Windows with Windows 8, they have reimagined the tablet with the Surface! Microsoft has invested significantly in terms of talent, time and capital to bring out Surface. It is very different and a very special device achieving perfection in every single sub component of the product to its minutest details. A team full of designers, engineers, H/W testers etc and all working on the product took months & months of prototyping to achieve this.
Surface RT is super thin at 9.3mm – just enough to accommodate full-sized USB port. Surface RT on ARM has USB2.0, while the Surface with Intel running Windows 8 Pro has USB3.0.
The edges are beveled at 22 deg, so that the device looks like it fades into the background. Kind of a design concept which also it fits perfectly into the hands. And this also makes the camera to be at 22 deg, so that during video calls, every one at table is perfectly framed for a Skype call. Every small detail has been looked into while designing the Surface tablet.
VaporMg case: Let us start with the casing. Surface is the first PC with full Magnesium case. The casing of Surface is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag). Through a unique process, the liquid metal is formed into an ultra rigid, yet ultra light frame making it incredibly strong, yet airy. This physical vapor deposition process makes it permanently scratch & wear resistant. It is light yet strong!
The process starts with an ingot of Magnesium, then melted down to molten state, which is then mold it into the intricate details needed for Surface using injection mold method. It’s not as simple as it sounds. After a process involving ~ 150 steps, you finally get the perfect finish and seamless fit.
VaporMg & Corning Gorilla Glass 2.0 makes it rugged with optically bonded wide-screen display.
Integrated KickStand: The unique built-in stand is made up of the same VaporMg, as is the rest of the case & is completely integrated into the device. The kickstand is there when needed, and disappears when not in use – with no extra weight or thickness. Microsoft Engineers spent a lot of time to design the 3 hinges of the kickstand. That shows how much attention they paid to small things like hinge for perfection.The hinge design is like that of the finest luxury car – you can hear & feel the hinge clicks. These hinges were built to feel & sound like a high-end car door. To get the right-click sound of the kickstand, it was iterated over & over in the Anechoic chamber. An example of the details, the product was looked into.
Touch Cover / Type Cover: For me this is one of the best and exciting thing about Surface. A protective Cover at just 3mm and Microsoft challenged itself. Why only as a cover ! It turned the cover into full Multi Touch Keyboard. It’s not just that, it has modern trackpad with Left Right buttons, even has keys for Windows 8 metro style UI. Typing is more comfortable than on-screen glass keyboard.The onscreen Windows Keyboard is also present, though. It’s an important technology that came out from Microsoft. Microsoft’s Stevie Bathicheis the inventor of Touch cover & co-inventor of Surface.
Microsoft has almost 30 yrs of input experience using mice and 15 yrs of creating keyboard and that has helped in creating a great typing experience. A magnetic connector is used to hold it very securely with a solid click. Close the cover & it gets integrated into the device. It’s so designed you’ll never miss connecting the device, it always clicks to hold correctly. And these are Real Smart Covers. They have accelerometer built into it. The moment you fold it back, it gets turned off. So you never have to take them off. Moreover the material underneath the fingers feels great too.
One more thing. There are multiple colors of Touch Covers, and the Start screen turns into the color of the Touch Cover. That is, if you connect a Blue Touch Cover, your Start Screen turns blue.
And even with a 3 mm thickness, it has a great typing experience.There are 7 layers squeezed in & pressed right into Touch cover & the thickness kept at 3 mm. Using a unique pressure-sensitive technology, Touch Cover senses keystrokes as gestures, enabling you to touch type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard.
If you just place your fingers on it, it knows the amount of force coming from the fingers tips on the touch cover. This keyboard measures 10 times faster in scanning from keyboard matrix, than any any Keyboard used today. The below picture shows the amount of finger pressure measured.
There’s a 5mm Type Cover too for those who prefer tactile feel of keys with the actual keys – and these are available in various colors.
The kickstand & touch cover are the hallmark of creativity.
Perimeter Venting : Surface running Intel processor with Windows 8 Pro, is a full-fledged PC. This Surface is powered by an Intel 3rd Gen core i5 processor,22 nm Ivy Bridge , a faster CPU, a GPU that has doubled the 3D graphics throughput using less power than todays core i5s. But still these require proper cooling. And with that power comes the unique design challenge of designing a PC. There’s no obvious place to put a vent. And still the Surface is cool enough to hold by hand all day long – due to its ingenious cooling design.
The design solution is Perimeter Venting. The Surface has a groove all the way outside of the case. This allows air to be uniformly distributed across the entire PC and it never blocks it with your hand. You will feel comfortable holding it in your hand.
Digital inking & Palm Blocking Technology: Surface with Windows 8 Pro supports Digital Inking. So you can take notes by flipping back the Keyboard & taking notes with Digital ink. When you write – and as you zoom in those written characters, you can see that the ink stays smooth, because its being sampled at 600dpi; that’s sub-pixel accuracy for ink, keeping the hand writing very smooth. As you write you can feel the tip of the pen exactly writing on the screen as the screen is optically bonded. The layers between the thin covered glass and the screen are eliminated, so that it feels like you are inking on the page. The distance between the Stylus and where you see, is inked is 0.7mm and this is the closest distance any tablet PC can offer, any inking tablet ever.
As you write on the screen, say on a document, moving your hand as you write doesn’t move the page because Windows has Palm blocking technology. And this Surface has 2 digitizers – one for the touch and one for the digital ink. As you bring the pen close to the screen, Windows sees the proximity of the pen and stops taking touch inputs from hand. After you complete your writing, the pen can be neatly tucked on the side to the magnetic connector.
The Surface has been designed keeping in mind the smallest thing. Creativity & productivity together!
“Tablet that’s a great PC, a PC that’s a great tablet, a new type of computing – Surface! “ – Steven Sinofsky
Surface is also the first Tablet to incorporate 2×2 MIMO antennae providing the best wi-fi reception of any tablet and eternal HDMI built into the device. Surface running Windows 8 Pro has full-sized USB 3.0, thus making very high-speed transfers. 1 GB file will get transferred in 5 seconds! The full-fledged OS running Windows 8 Pro tablet, thus provides all the features of a real OS like multitasking etc. on a tablet delivering the power/flexibility of a High end PC, etc. It can also run memory intensive applications like Photoshop, etc . It has dual array Mics & dual speakers built-in, ClearType HD and ClearType Full HD display, to conserve battery power.
Said Steve Ballmer:
Surface is very different & very special. Because of Windows 8, Surface is a PC, Surface is a tablet and Surface is something new, that we think people will absolutely love .
The Surface tablet has already excited many gadget freaks and all are waiting for its release.
For more information on basic specs, video, images, please check – Microsoft unveils its own Windows 8 Surface tablets Images, Specs, Video.
The author has been a Microsoft MVP awardee in various Windows categories (2006-2016) and currently a Windows Insider MVP. A Technology Enthusiast, interested in anything technical and is committed to Microsoft technologies and products. He is actively associated with various Microsoft online communities, forums, Newsgroups and has been actively involved in Beta testing various Microsoft products and bug submissions.