When Microsoft unveiled the Surface tablet Monday, the software company clearly had one ultimate goal: to make a tablet that’s better than the iPad. Unlike some hasty competitors, Microsoft took its time getting into the tablet game. And there are at least five features CEO Steve Ballmer and friends showed off Monday that might make the Surface better than the iPad.
While it’s possible to get somewhat proficient at tapping spots on a flat screen, most acknowledge it’s impossible to get e-mail and other documents written as quickly as with physical keys. The Surface keyboard will be part of its Touch Cover, which is connected with magnets and flips open. It’s both sleeker and thinner than many of the third-party offerings for the iPad. And for the style-sensitive among us, they’ll come in a variety of colors, including black, pink, red and blue.
First, its display screen is 10.6 inches, almost a full inch bigger than the iPad’s. And the company says it’s optimized to have essentially the same dimensions as a movie screen: So, farewell black bars when watching video. The Surface’s Touch Cover, with the keyboard, is 3 millimeters thick.
Tablets have always been a hybrid hovering somewhere between a smartphone and a laptop, best used for game playing, Web surfing and media consumption. Microsoft wants the Surface to be something you can actually do some work on. The Windows Pro model will run on an i5 Intel processor and come with up to 128 gigabytes of internal memory (the iPad currently goes up to 64).
Both versions of the Surface come with two USB ports. These ports open up the possibility of extra storage, printing and other external capabilities that should be easier and quicker than the workarounds iPad users need involving cloud storage, Wi-Fi connections and the like.
The Xbox SmartGlass feature, which Microsoft rolled out at this month’s E3 video gaming expo, will work with the iPad and Android tablets. It will connect a smartphone or tablet with the Xbox, which in turn will be connected with the television. By connecting the devices, users can watch a movie on their television while getting bonus material on their tablet.
So, we gotta ask the techies out there — which gadget is better — the iPad or the new Surface?