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New 'Microsoft Surface' tablet revealed

WIndows 8 tablet announced at today's hastily-called press conference

Microsoft has revealed a new tablet device - the new 'Microsoft Surface'.

MS CEO Steve Ballmer took to the stage of a hastily called press conference today to reveal the device - which comes in two SKUs; 'Surface for Windows RT' and a more powerful 'Surface for Windows Pro'.

The RT SKU is 9.3mm thin, weighs 1.5lbs, has a 10.6 inch screen, supports full size USB, is powered by an nVidia ARM mobile processor and is wrapped in a "first of its kind" liquid metal-formed magnesium case.

It's also got a rear-facing camera and the rear of the unit has a built-in kickstand that flicks out. MS got the audience whooping with a special screen cover that clips onto the unit via magnets and, to everyone's surprise, has a full multitouch keyboard on its reverse (see the pics). It's essentially an optional, 3mm thick keyboard.

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Its tablet has access to "all Windows apps", and can access games via the Windows Store.

MS briefly showed off the Netflix App for Windows 8 running on the device. MS claimed the device has the best Wi-Fi of any tablet today, making streaming content like HD video on it much faster and easier.

It went on to confirm it'll have a "full Windows desktop" and Office.

Switching over to the beefier 'Surface for Windows Pro' model, MS revealed it runs Windows 8 and is powered by a "third generation" Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5, which apparently uses less power than today's Core i5s. It'll be slightly thicker, at 13.5mm, will weigh 1.9lb, and contains USB 3.0 support.

This throws images as a different, higher-resolution 1080p display it calls the 'ClearType Display', which also has power-saving properties, apparently.

MS showed the higher-end device working with an included pen, and being plugged into a larger screen to be used like a regular PC, with a tactile keyboard attachment.

MS held off revealing exact release and pricing details, but did confirm that the Surface for Windows RT will be available in 32GB and 64GB options and 'priced to competitive rates with ARM tablets'.

The Intel-powered 'Surface for Windows Pro' SKU will have higher storage capacities at 64GB or 128GB, and will also be 'priced to compete'.

It made no mention of Xbox SmartGlass, which we find a bit baffling, to be honest.

Here's a trailer:

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Update: Here are the known specs for the two SKU's, courtesy of Engadget:

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Surface for Windows RT tablet
Processor: NVIDIA-made ARM chip
Weight: 676 grams
Thickness: 9.3 millimeters
Display: 10.6-inch ClearType HD capactive touchapenl
Battery: 31.5Wh
I/O: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
Software: Windows RT + Office Home & Student 2013 RT
Accessories: Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand
Capacity: 32GB / 64GB
Availability: "Around" the Windows 8 launch (fall 2012)
Pricing: To be determined

Surface for Windows 8 Pro tablet
Processor: Intel Core i5 (Ivy Bridge)
Weight: 903 grams
Thickness: 13.5 millimeters
Display: 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD (1080p) capactive touchapenl
Battery: 42Wh
I/O: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, 2x2 MIMO antennae
Software: Windows 8 Pro
Accessories: Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand, Pen with Palm Block
Capacity: 64GB / 128GB
Availability: "Three months after" the Windows 8 launch this fall
Pricing: To be determined

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