Microsoft on Monday announced the Surface tablet during a press conference in Los Angeles, California. Rumors leading up to the event suggested that the Redmond-based company had an own-brand tablet in store, and a leaked spec sheet that emerged on Monday pointed to an Xbox-focused slate that would merge entertainment, gaming and high-definition output into a 7-inch tablet that would mark Microsoft’s premiere entry into the market. Bits and pieces of various rumors ended up panning out, and Microsoft unveiled its first own-brand Windows tablet line.
UPDATE: Be sure to check out our hands-on with the Microsoft Surface tablet.
“Surface fulfills the dream of working anywhere,” Microsoft said of the 9.3-millimeter thick tablet, which includes a magnesium case that weighs less than 1.5 pounds and features an integrated stand to prop the device up while watching videos or typing on a Bluetooth keyboard. The 10.6-inch high-definition display on the Surface is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 2, and it includes a magnetic connector to hold a case in place.
The new Surface tablet ships with a number of popular Microsoft apps, including Xbox live, and it includes a native Netflix app as well. USB 2.0 and HDMI-out ports are both on board, as are rear and front-facing cameras. An Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor powers the Surface along with a unique vented active cooling system.
Microsoft’s Surface tablet supports both finger and stylus input, as well as 600 dpi “Digital Ink” for drawing, writing and marking up documents. The device also supports a “Touchcover” with an integrated keyboard.
“This was built as a stage for Windows 8,” Microsoft’s Panos Panay said while on stage at the press conference. “It was important that we have hardware fade to the background so Windows 8 can come to the surface.”
Two Surface tablets will be available at launch, one running Windows 8 Pro and one running Windows RT, and pricing will be “like comparable tablets based on ARM” for the RT model, and in line with Ultrabooks for the Windows 8 Pro version. The Windows RT model will be available with either 32GB or 64GB of storage, and the Windows 8 Pro model will come with either 64GB or 128GB of storage.
More information about the new Surface Tablet can be found on Microsoft’s website.