Microsoft Surface available October 26 starting at $499

Microsoft finally announces its Surface pricing and begins taking preorders for the new tablet. Plus, a few brief moments inside the company's lab with Touch Cover.

Microsoft Surface RT is available for preorder starting today at 9am PT. Prices start at $499 for 32GB. The Touch Cover keyboard will be sold separately for $120. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Four months after the company unveiled its Surface tablet, Microsoft has finally announced a price and date for the RT version of the device.

Starting today at 9 a.m. PT, the Windows RT version of Surface will be available for preorder at Surface.com with an actual release on October 26 this year. On the same date, Microsoft's brick-and-mortar stores also will begin selling the device; however, preorders are only available online. $499 nets you the 32GB version only, while $599 gets you the 32GB version with a Touch Cover keyboard. A 64GB version with Touch Cover will be priced at $699. The Touch Cover will retail separately for $120, with the more tactile Type Cover keyboard selling for $130.

If you're interested in the finer details of Surface, check out my First Take from June and if the world of Windows RT tablets tickles your fancy, here's a list of the currently scheduled entries .

Yesterday I toured Microsoft's Studio B R&D division. During one of our many lab stops I got a few brief moments to type on the Touch Cover while it was connected to a working Surface RT tablet.

Inside Microsoft's Touch Cover development lab. Microsoft

Microsoft was keen to point out that due to Surface's larger than usual (for tablets) 10.6-inch screen, Touch Cover -- which is just as wide -- hits the sweet spot for spaciousness, so your hands are less likely to overlap while typing.

I now can indeed attest to its ease of typing and the keyboard's surprising comfort. It's definitely more spacious than typical tablet keyboards like the Asus Transformer Infinity's accessory and thanks to bongo drum-like feedback sound effect, I didn't really miss that the keys don't depress.

Touch Cover's flexibility gets pushed to its absolute limits as its rotated over and over and over again. Microsoft

Also, even with its thin build, I was impressed that the keyboard could accurately determine when I was actually pressing the keys versus the times I was simply resting my fingers on top of them.

I'll definitely need to spend more time with Touch Cover to determine just how effective it is at emulating an actual keyboard, once I get the chance.

Look to CNET for more coverage of Microsoft Surface as we approach its release.

 

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