Posted by Renee Schmidt

Microsoft is enjoying the moment. As tablet wars heat up, all attention is on Surface, the latest Windows tablet recently debuted. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admits that the computing titan has been mum about it until the release of the product. He said he knew the tablet would have to be obviously superior to competing products, adding  “we wanted to give Windows 8 its own hardware.”

Surface is thin, light, comfy to the touch, and definitely looking chic with a magnesium body. It has clear RT display and everything about its design is impressive. It’s a tablet but if you want a cover, you can snap one on and it stays in place. In a very real sense, Microsoft has redesigned what a tablet should be. My favorite part though, is that the Windows 8 Surface can be either a tablet or a computer –depending on your mood.  That’s because the snap on cover is also a slender touch keyboard accessory.

The front is chic black glass, which is bonded to the magnesium main chassis. Turn it on and you see the Windows logo. The fact that you won’t see the word Microsoft on the case adds to its mystique. The tablet is is 9.3 mm, mega-thin for the Windows RT version. The Pro version is a bit thicker about 13.5 mm but it’s great for those who have slippery fingers and get uncomfortable holding delicate or fragile gadgets. Both versions have the 10.6-inch widescreen ClearType HD Display. The tablet is extremely thin, but while it looks fragile, it is made of “gorilla glass” according to Microsoft –protecting it from scratches and perhaps a few light drops.

For those who aren’t used to holding a tablet, there is a built in stand that goes along with the Surface tablet. If you’re not particularly fond of tablets, you can use it like a computer by putting the cover on.

What about ports? Microsoft has cut down on them, designing the Surface with as few ports as possible. The Surface has a magnetic keyboard connection at its bottom. The top has the power button, speakers on the sides and dual microphones. There is one USB port called USB 3.0 for the Surface PRO and micro HDMI also on the Surface PRO, with a magnetic power connector.

This is where Microsoft was super thoughtful: there are two different covers for the Surface tablet. While each of them acts as a cover that can protect the front of the tablet, the Type Cover has moving keys while the Touch Cover is capacitive. The Type Cover, with physical keys, is for those who’d prefer a PC-like experience. Both covers are portable, functional, chic and definitely something of a novelty designed by Microsoft.

Back to tablet wars… how will the Surface tablet compete against the Google Nexus 7, released just last week?  That’s something tech fans are all watching. After all, the Nexus 7’s price is a reasonable $200, while rumors have indicated that the pricing for the RT tablet will be around $599 for the 32GB model, with the Pro version at $899. The Surface is much pricier, but if the buzz around the device is accurate, Microsoft’s new design and functionality is worth the it. It will be interesting to see how the tablet wars unfold, and more importantly, and if this device can overtake Apple’s marketshare!