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Microsoft tablet is here: Firm unveils its iPad rival 'Surface'

The tech giant’s new device has a few innovations. See it in action here…

Image: Microsoft

MICROSOFT HAS UNVEILED its much-anticipated tablet computer, in a high-stakes attempt to compete with Apple’s iPad.

The company’s new product, called the Surface, was announced by CEO Steve Ballmer at an event in California yesterday. He said the tablet was part of a “whole new family of devices” being developed by Microsoft, the Guardian reports.

The device is a similar size and thickness to the iPad, but its screen is slightly larger at 10.6 inches. It will run the new Windows 8 operating system.

However, the most obvious innovation is a fold-out ‘Touch Cover’ – a 3mm-thick cover for the screen which folds down to be used as a portable keyboard.

This will allow users to type “significantly faster” than a touch screen, the company said in a statement.

Microsoft has not said how much the new tablet will cost. However, it said it will be “competitive” with “comparable” tablet devices from other manufacturers.

There was much speculation in advance of the launch, which sees Microsoft make an unusual move into hardware. It has traditionally focused on software and left the hardware field to other manufacturers.

This is Microsoft’s publicity video for the device…


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…while this clip from ABC News shows the Surface tablets on show in the real world:


So how does the Surface rate? PC Advisor‘s reviewer was “very impressed” by what she saw, and said the device does live up to the hype. She called the touch cover “versatile, lightweight, functional and a true aid to your productivity.”

Tech site CNET was also broadly positive – but noted that no reviewers have really got to put the Surface through its paces as yet. “I like what I’ve seen so far – I just felt I was left hanging, information-wise,” wrote reviewer Eric Franklin.

Read: Computing giant Microsoft ‘to announce iPad rival’>

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Michael Freeman

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