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11/29/2012
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Microsoft Reveals Details of Intel-Based Surface

The Surface tablet with Windows 8 Pro from Microsoft will look like the ARM-based Surface RT, only slightly thicker and heavier. On the other hand, unlike the RT, it will be able to run existing Windows apps. It will start at $899 and be available in January. These tablets are based on Intel Ivy Bridge chips, and so do not have the superior battery life of ARM or Intel Clover Trail systems.

Microsoft Thursday revealed the Intel architecture-based Surface with Windows 8 Pro. It will be available in January.

The Surface Pro looks like the already-shipping Surface running Windows RT, but will be slightly thicker and heavier. It will be available with 64 GB and 128 GB of flash storage for $899 and $999, respectively. Microsoft's Touch Cover or Type Cover keyboards are add-ons costing $120 and $130, respectively.

The major difference in the Surface Pro compared to the Surface RT, and what might justify the $400 price premium over the RT version, is that this version runs existing Windows software written for earlier versions of the OS, and not just apps in the Windows Store.

The Surface Pro screen is 10.6" ClearType with full HD and 1920 by 1080 resolution. In addition to 10-point multi-touch support, the Surface Pro also comes with a digitizing pen with ink support, so users can take handwritten notes. Other key specs include a full-size USB 3.0 port, and a Mini DisplayPort, which can drive an external display with up to 2560 x 1440 resolution.

A major downside with the Surface Pro is that the processor/graphics chip set is a third-generation Ivy Bridge, an Intel Core i5 processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000. Battery life should be on the order of Windows notebooks, not mobile devices based on ARM processors. The next generation of Intel chip sets, Clover Trail, will have ARM-level performance.

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