COMMENTARY | Apple's iPad is unquestionably the benchmark for tablets since the new iPad introduced an HD Retina display and an ultra-fast processor. While numerous major electronics manufacturers have introduced their own formidable tablets, Apple's classic rival, Microsoft, only recently entered the fray.
Microsoft's new Surface tablet is a clear iPad competitor thanks to its 1080p screen and its Nvidia ARM processor (the same processor that the iPad uses).
The 10.6-inch tablet boasts USB ports, 32GB or 64GB of memory and several cool peripherals. Most notably, its case is a keyboard, with optional raised or flat buttons, a built-in accelerometer and smart gesture recognition. The case will allow tablet fans to exercise unprecedented control over their tablets and use them with a variety of Microsoft applications--important, since the device comes with a full version of Windows 8 Pro.
No tablet has perfectly integrated keyboard controls, so we believe that if the keyboard-case works well, the Surface can actually compete with the iPad. I'd buy the device if it doesn't have the limitations of other keyboard-equipped tablets like Asus's Transformer, which launched with a number of serious software bugs.
The bottom line is that the Surface tablet offers some advantages over the iPad and Android tablets for buyers who prefer Windows. It's an especially attractive tablet for people who don't just want a cool device for browsing the web and playing games. If you'd like a tablet that allows you to get some work done and you feel that the iPad's software is too restrictive, the Surface is definitely worth a second look.
Expect the Microsoft Surface to launch later this year along with Windows 8.
Phil Dotree is a technology consultant and avid consumer electronics fan. He has written hundreds of reviews, how-tos and editorials about tablets, smart phones and computers.
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