On Thursday Microsoft finally announced the launch date and pricing of the upcoming Surface Pro tablets. Unlike the Surface RT versions which range from $499 to $699, these Intel-based models will be more expensive and PC-like, costing consumers a meaty $899 for the standalone 64 GB version and $999 for the standalone 128 GB version. Both are scheduled to arrive on store shelves in January 2013.
Panos Panay, General Manager of Microsoft Surface, said that both models will come packed with Windows 8 Pro, and a Surface pen with Palm Block technology. They'll also be compatible with the Touch Cover and Type Cover (sold separately), and share some of the same features seen with the current Windows RT tablets including the Dark Titanium VaporMg casing, dual 2x2 MIMO antennas, and the kickstand.
Naturally the big difference with the Surface Pro tablets will be in the core components and the OS itself: Intel's next-generation Core i5 processor running Windows 8 Pro rather than the ARM-based Tegra SoC from Nvidia running Windows RT. Panay said the Intel-based CPU will allow the tablet's 10.6-inch 16:9 ClearType display to sport a 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution. There's also a full-size USB 3.0 port, and a Mini DisplayPort that can drive an external display up to 2560 x 1440.
"Surface with Windows 8 Pro will support Pen input," Panay said. "This is an amazing feature for all you note-takers or document editors out there, especially since it has expanded capacitive and digitizing technology we’re calling Palm Block that will prevent your handwriting from getting interrupted if you accidently place your palm on the screen as you write. This feature is pretty cool, and allows for a great inking experience alongside a great touch experience when needed."
The Surface Pro tablet will also allow users to install their favorite Windows 7 programs, thus consumers will seemingly shell out $899 or more for a portable laptop PC without the built-in keyboard and clamshell form-factor. Yet unlike a full-blown notebook with similar hardware, the two Surface Pro tablets will weigh less than two pounds and measure less than 14-mm thick, he said.
For the actual list of specs, check out what the new Surface Pro tablets have to offer below:
Windows 8 Pro – Runs current Windows 7 desktop applications and integrates with your existing enterprise management infrastructure. Use the programs and the apps available in the Windows Store.
10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53-inches
Dark Titanium color
Volume and Power buttons
*System software uses significant storage space. Available storage is subject to change based on system software updates and apps usage. 1 GB = 1 billion bytes. See Surface.com/storage for more details.
10.6-inch ClearType Full HD Display
1920 x 1080 pixels
Pen input and pen (included with purchase)
3rd Gen Intel Core i5 Processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000
4 GB RAM – Dual Channel Memory
Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology
Cameras and A/V
Two 720p HD LifeCams, front- and rear-facing with TruColor
Full-size USB 3.0
microSDXC card slot
Ambient light sensor
48W power supply (including 5W USB for accessory charging)
1-year limited hardware warranty
Windows Mail and Messaging
Internet Explorer 10
Xbox Music, Video, and Games