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In Pictures: 12 things we know about Microsoft's new Surface Tablet (and one thing we don't)

For the first time ever, Microsoft is designing, manufacturing and selling a computer - the ARM-based tabled called Surface. Here's what we know about the Surface tablet.

  • For the first time ever, Microsoft is designing, manufacturing and selling a computer – the ARM-based tabled called Surface. The new product is slated to be available for purchase on Oct. 26. Here’s what we know about the Surface tablet:

  • It sports an ARM chip Surface differs from Microsoft’s traditional lineup of Windows PCs and laptops in that it runs an ARM architecture CPU -- the processor that has become common over the last several years in many tablets, smartphones, and other small-computing devices. Specifically, Surface will run the NVIDIA Tegra 3.

  • Windows RT The OS is Windows RT, which is essentially Windows 8 written to run on ARM processors. The Surface will come in your choice of 32GB or 64GB flash memory storage configurations. It will also have a microSD slot so you can add more storage to it. (There will be another version of the tablet that runs an Intel processor, called the Surface Pro. Microsoft says it will be released three months after the Surface makes its sales debut.)

  • Two cameras The Surface will have two cameras (front and rear), which Microsoft described during a press event as both recording in “HD” resolution. There’s also a USB 2.0 port.

  • Longer battery life Microsoft claims this tablet’s battery life will range from 8 to 13 hours.

  • Touchscreen tops iPad, Android tablets The diagonal measurement of its capacitive touchscreen will be 10.6 inches in a 16-by-9 aspect ratio. This makes the Surface’s screen larger than the iPad’s (9.7 inches) and most Android tablets with large screens (usually 10.1 inches). Microsoft said the resolution will be “HD” while the Surface Pro’s will be “full HD.” Based on official specifications as to what defines HDTV resolutions, this may suggest at least 1280-by-720 (and 1920-by-1080 for the Pro). A resolution of 1366-by-768, the standard minimum nowadays for most brand-new Windows 7 notebooks, would fall into this range.

  • Wi-Fi only What’s notable is what the Surface will not include: there won’t be a version with 3G or 4G/LTE connectivity. The Surface will be Wi-Fi only.

  • Thinner, lighter than iPad The Surface will be 9.3 mm thick, and weigh 1.4 pounds. (The Wi-Fi-only version of the current-generation iPad is 9.4 mm thick and 1.44 pounds.) There’s a fold-out stand built into the back of the tablet to prop it up in a landscape orientation. Its casing is made with magnesium through a process called by a catchy marketing term: VaporMg.

  • Cover versions Two different kinds of protective covers will be available for the Surface: Touch and Type. Both magnetically attach along one side of the length of the tablet, and, when not used to protect the tablet’s screen, both have a keyboard on the inside of the cover. The keyboard of the Touch version is made of a flat, rubbery material, and it comes included with the Surface. Microsoft said the Surface will emit key-click sounds to aid the user in touch-typing in lieu of tactile feedback.

  • Type version The Type cover has an actual keyboard with extremely low-profile keys. This is an optional purchase.

  • No traditional Windows apps Because the Surface will be running Windows RT (which works only ARM processors), you won’t be able to install and run traditional Windows applications. However, apps written for the UI formerly known as Metro should work on computers or devices running either Windows RT or Windows 8. This would encourage third-party Windows developers to write apps specifically for Windows 8/RT instead of traditional Windows desktop applications, which users would buy at the Microsoft app store.

  • Microsoft Office included A version of Office written for Windows RT will be included with Surface. Dubbed Office Home & Student 2013 RT Preview, it will include Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Word. Office 2013 for x86 computers will have a simplified and cleaner looking theme, but while Microsoft has said it will have some touchscreen features, the overall UI will still be more oriented toward keyboard and mouse interaction. So, presumably Office for Windows RT will also be optimized for traditional input devices. And we don’t know what the "preview" means.

  • Who’s selling it The Surface will be sold by Microsoft. Like the company’s Xbox 360 game console and Zune media players, this tablet will be a Microsoft-branded product. According to Digitimes, Pegatron Technology, based in Taiwan, has been hired to crank out these tablets for Microsoft.

  • When and where can I buy it? The Surface will supposedly be ready for sale in the U.S. on the same day that Microsoft releases Windows 8: Oct. 26. Microsoft intends to sell their first tablet through its own online store, as well as through their Microsoft-themed retail shops. It has yet to announce when and in which traditional store retailers you’ll be able to buy one.

  • What will it cost? When Microsoft announced the Surface, it revealed a lot of technical things about it -- but was cagey about its price. Just days after Microsoft officially unveiled the Surface to the press, Digitimes reported that the tablet would cost “above $599.’’ Then Engadget reported that an anonymous source put the price at just $199. Others have speculated that Surface would be priced comparably with the iPad. As of today, Steve Ballmer is being tightlipped.

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