Since its launch in 2010 the iPad has been the big hitter on the tablet front. Apple have really established themselves as the market leader in this respect, leaving rival tablets in their wake as they bring out newer and better models. And in just two short years we’ve arrived at the third generation iPad – ok each new model hasn’t exactly seen a drastic change from the last; each one has been more of an update from the last. However as per with Apple products with each tweak and each new model, the iPad has made every tech-geek’s mouth water and become insanely jealous of those that own the latest one, so its clearly working.
You may or may not have heard about a little thing called ‘Surface’. This is Microsoft’s new toy; the full features of which they’ve recently revealed. This is really their way of saying “we’re not giving up without a fight” to Apple, and I’ll let you decide whether it’s a fight they have a chance of winning. Of course if it were any other generic tablet attempting to compete with the iPad you can be sure it’s going to fail. Apple pretty much dominates here, as I’ve already said. However it seems Surface might just be able to cut it.
One Mashable article provides a great insight into the new gadget. Here Microsoft is suggested to state that Surface is not a tablet, nor a laptop. But from what I can see it definitely looks like a tablet, and it seems to work like a tablet, so it probably is a tablet. Microsoft claim to have been working on this since 2009; before the first iPad was released, so perhaps they just don’t want it to seem like turning up late to the party with a substandard gift. But I don’t think they need to worry, because the product they’ve revealed looks pretty sharp.
Like the iPad, Surface has one of those magnetic screen cover thingys, which are pretty cool. But this magnetic screen cover thingy also has a keyboard on it, which when attached to the tablet (which isn’t a tablet, just to clarify) makes it seem like an incredibly thin, chic miniature laptop (and no I definitely don’t mean a netbook). Only problem is you’ll have to pay extra to get this, and Surface isn’t exactly selling cheap in the first place; £399 for the 32GB model.
Surface is also going to be running Windows RT (a tablet-friendly Windows 8, adopting a ‘metro’ interface), and Windows 8 pro on their more ‘souped up’ (and much, much pricier) version of the *ahem* tablet. So I guess that’s another reason to be excited; that is if you like Windows. Frankly if it’s more like Windows 7 and less like Vista I can live with it. Nonetheless this shows Microsoft’s intention to make this device a higher-end product, making it as laptop-like as it can whilst maintaining its sleek figure.
What’s also interesting is that on the same day the features, release date and price of Surface were revealed and the device was made available to preorder, Apple released another one of their mysterious invitations, suggesting they have another new product to reveal soon. This is expected to be the ‘iPad Mini’, which I’m sure will be covered in detail in another post once it has been released. So it seems Apple is fully aware of Surface’s potential and they’re swooping in to try and steal the limelight off Microsoft – very crafty. It’ll be interesting to see how each new product is received by consumers, with Microsoft going bigger and Apple going smaller tablet-wise.
A quick word on Surface/iPad Mini comparison: the iPad Mini is expected to undercut Surface in price, so the £399 you might spend on Surface might not seem like such a bargain. The iPad Mini will also hold the benefit of having a much more established and proven app store than that of the brand new Surface – another issue to consider if making a purchase.
So will Surface flourish and upset the Apple cart (see what I did there?) in the tablet world, or will it follow the Zune and become the latest Microsoft flop? Honestly I’m not first in line to buy this gadget, but then again I haven’t yet convinced myself I need a tablet in my life. I’ll give it a while and see how it fares once launched, and then maybe just buy an older generation iPad.