Today marks the launch of Windows 8 and perhaps more importantly, Microsofts first foray into the Windows hardware market with the launch of their Surface tablet.
Traditionally, Windows products have never been renowned for their product design. OEM manufacturers like HP, Acer, Dell and others seem to put cheap manufacturing costs ahead of quality hardware design. It is something that has perhaps damaged the reputation of Windows with cheap, unintuitive tablets being released ever since the Windows XP era.
Microsoft hope to change this, and tackle Apple head on with the release of their Surface tablet. As a standard bearer for the Windows 8 touch centric operating system, the Microsoft Surface is undoubtedly an engineering marvel. From the Magnesium alloy metal body to the impossible thin (3mm!) touch keyboard, the design is immpecable.
The attention to detail and passion that the team at Microsoft put into the design of the Surface is evident when watching any interview. The kickstand rests at a 22 degree angle, the optimum viewing angle when resting on a flat surface. When closed it fits flush against the device and it folds out with a satisfying click. Microsoft stated that their goal with the kickstand was to instill confidence. Surface users should be able to flip it out, certain that it would snap into place and securely hold the device up.
Similar consideration obviously went into the keyboard port which connects and latches into place magnetically. You can’t plug in the keyboard incorrectly. The magnets are positioned such that they align and clamp the keyboard perfectly into place, ensuring correct attachment first time, every time. The “Click in” that Microsoft uses in its Surface marketing is another point of reassurance. Hear the click and know that the keyboard is attached securely and wont break apart accidentally. The magnets are strong enough to support the weight of the Surface tablet itself.
The tappered sides are angled just right so it fits into your hands and feels like you are carrying a book. Even the rear mounted camera is angled so that when propped up with the kick stand if faces forward. All of this, coupled with the Gorilla glass protected screen, the scratch resistant VapourMg casing (some kind of lightweight magnesium alloy) gives a resounding premium feel to Microsofts first Windows hardware experiment. It certainly feels like something you would see coming out of a Steve Jobs era Apple rather than Redmond.
All in all the Microsoft Surface is a compelling product and one that certainly rivals the iPad in terms of product design. Whether it will be able to compete with the lower prices of the newly launched iPad mini, or the sheer brand loyalty that follows Apple remains to be seen.
weight = 1.5 pounds
thickness = 9.4 millimetres
screen size = 10.6 inches
screen resolution = 1366×768 pixels
connectivity = Dual-band Wireless n wi-fi
storage = 32 or 64 gigabytes
starting price = US $499 / £399
Image Source: Microsoft