Microsoft Surface tablet, iPad spec check

Microsoft isn't pulling any punches with its two tablets. On paper, they give Apple something to think (worry?) about.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
Microsoft Surface tablet with cover that converts to keyboard.
Microsoft Surface tablet with cover that converts to keyboard. Microsoft

Microsoft did not skimp on specs for its new tablets.

More than any single feature, the 3mm-thick Touch Cover (see photos below) stands out. Using pressure-sensitive technology, Touch Cover senses keystrokes as gestures, allowing faster touch typing than is possible with on-screen keyboards, Microsoft claims.

The Touch Cover attaches to the tablet with a built-in magnetic connector, "forming a natural spine like you find on a book, and works as a protective cover," Microsoft said.

There is also an option for a slightly thicker 5 mm Type Cover that adds moving keys for a more traditional typing experience.

Apple doesn't offer anything comparable. Though there are plenty of third-party keyboards.

And speaking of not comparable, with Surface, Microsoft is really trying hard to bridge the tablet-laptop chasm. Apple is not (at least, not in the sense that Microsoft is). By all appearances, Microsoft's cover/keyboard may be one of the best efforts yet, especially when combined with a high-performance Intel-based Windows 8 Pro tablet.

Other attributes like VaporMG casing -- which is very thin yet strong -- could also give Apple something to chew on.

Surface for Windows RT:

  • OS: Windows RT (aka, Windows on ARM)
  • Display: 10.6-inch HD Display.
  • Chip: Nvidia Tegra.
  • Weight: 676 g (iPad 652 g)
  • Thickness: 9.3mm (iPad 9.4mm)
  • Ports: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video
  • Software: Office 15, among other apps
  • Battery: 31.5 watt-hour (iPad: 42.5 W-h)
  • Configs: 32GB, 64GB

Third-generation iPad:

  • OS: iOS 5.1.1
  • Display: 9.7-inch 2048-by-1536 pixel density.
  • Chip: Apple dual-core A5 (ARM) with quad-core graphics.
  • Weight: 652 g
  • Thickness: 9.4mm
  • Ports: Micro-SIM card tray
  • Software: Lots of apps, Photos, Video, Maps etc.
  • Battery: 42.5 watt-hour
  • Configs: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB

Surface for for Windows 8 Pro:

  • OS: Windows 8 Pro (aka, Windows on Intel)
  • Display: 10.6-inch HD Display: 16:9, 1920x1080.
  • Chip: Intel Core i5 "Ivy Bridge."
  • Weight: 903 g
  • Thickness: 13.5mm
  • Ports: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video
  • Battery: 42 watt-hour
  • Configs: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB

Windows RT Surface tablet on stand with Touch Cover keyboard.
Windows RT Surface tablet on stand with Touch Cover keyboard. CNET
Windows RT Surface tablet.
Windows RT Surface tablet. CNET
Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro.
Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro. CNET

Updated at 9:45 p.m. PDT: Corrects text.

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