The last time I was this excited about a product release was probably for an Apple device - the original iPhone, which I imported into Australia as it wasn't available here at the time, or the iPad. Consoles usually get me quite excited, too. This time, I'm really excited, and intrigued, by Microsoft's upcoming Surface Pro.
Microsoft announced the Surface line of tablets in June last year, which included two models, Surface RT and Surface Pro. With the Surface RT, we have Windows RT running underneath - but the more exciting of the two was Surface Pro - which runs a full-fledged version of Windows 8 Pro underneath.
The Surface RT runs an NVIDIA Tegra 3 system-on-chip (SoC) underneath, which is a quad-core CPU running at 1.3GHz. It includes 2GB of RAM and a 10.6-inch display with a resolution of 1366x768 - providing 148 pixels per inch (PPI) image. All of this on a "ClearType HD" screen with a 16:9 ratio. The Surface Pro on the other hand, gives us a proper Intel Core i5 processor and a Full HD 1920x1080 resolution on the same 10.6-inch screen size.
Microsoft want to directly compete against the iPad, but with a full x86-based processor, and x86-capable full-fledged version of Windows running on the Surface Pro, they'll be introducing an entire new class of device. The iPad, while great, is merely a tablet - iOS is very simple compared to a proper OS like Windows or OS X.
What we should expect from the Surface Pro?
The Surface Pro will change things, considerably. It'll do this in many ways - first, it'll change Microsoft's way of dealing with things in the market. Normally they release an OS and wait for other manufacturers and partners to release products with their OS on it. This gives Acer, Samsung, ASUS, HP, Dell and many, many others the power to release a cool new product, but Microsoft never really get any recognition from it.
We all know brand name machines come with 'bloat' on them, in the form of software - I have always hated this. I hated firing up a brand new $3000 Dell notebook to have a million and one programs load up with Windows and slow it down. The first thing I would do is format the HDD and install a fresh copy of Windows onto it. I would buy an OEM copy of Windows just to for this task, and never use the backup images provided by the company.
This is where Surface Pro will give Microsoft an edge against their competitors, who are also their partners. They will make the Surface Pro the absolute best they can, and it'll be a 'pure Microsoft/Windows experience'. No bloat included. A fresh install of Windows - a breath of fresh air.
The Surface Pro features a proper Intel Core i5 dual-core processor, which will give it desktop class performance. A proper SSD instead of an eMMC-based drive, will again, give us desktop class performance. 4GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics HD 4000, which will give it - you guessed it - desktop class performance.
The hardware mixed with the design of the Surface Pro itself will give us a completely new device. Yes, we have Ultrabooks on the market with touchscreen-capable displays, but they're not the same as a built form the ground up device from Microsoft.
We will also see USB 3.0 and miniDisplayPort featured on the Surface Pro, which will put it in a class of its own when compared to the current reigning champion, Apple's iPad.
Up until now, tablets have been casual devices, something bigger than your smartphone to just view content on. Creating content on a tablet hasn't been very successful so far, with on-screen keyboards only capable of so much, and third-party, or even first-party accessories not up to scratch. Surface changes this - big time.
Microsoft offer the Touch Cover and Type Cover for Surface, both connecting to the slate through a magnetic strip. Both covers also protect the Surface when folded against the device, and when opened, function as physical keyboards. Both keyboards feature gyroscope and accelerometer sensors to work out, based on position, whether or not to detect and accept input.