In addition to my obvious passion for the outdoors, travel and adventure, I also happen to be a bit of a technology and gadget nerd. I tend to stay up on all the latest news and information from the tech industry and I incorporate some of that gear into my daily life and travels. Occasionally a new piece of gear is announced that seems like it could have a revolutionary effect on the way we communicate and get work done while in the field. Earlier this week Microsoft announced a new product that could become very popular with travelers and adventurers alike.
The new product is called the Surface Tablet and it comes in two flavors, the Surface RT and the Surface Pro. The RT is clearly an opportunity for Microsoft to try to compete with the iPad. It features an operating system specifically designed for a touch interface and to use apps in a new environment, known as Metro. The Surface RT will likely be a very competent and easy to use tablet that could potentially be the first real competition to the iPad that we’ve seen.
But what should be of real interest to many of us is the Surface Pro. This device will actually run a full blown version of Windows 8, which is set to release later this year, and will essentially give you laptop functionality in a tablet casing. The Pro weighs in at a shade under 2 pounds (903 grams), is about a half inch thick (13.5 mm) and comes with a 10.6″ full HD display.
It also has an Intel Core I5 processor, which is similar to what you’ll find in may laptops available today, a USB 2.0 port, micro-SD card reader, and more. Customers will have the option for 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage and and included cover ingeniously converts into a keyboard and touchpad when needed.
What is most exciting about the Surface Pro is that it will run any piece of software that is available for Windows 8. That means you can get a full version of Office for instance or Photoshop. It can even run games or video editing software, although it remains to be seen how it performs with more intensive programs. The point is that the Pro won’t just run apps, although it can do those too, but full versions of the software that you already use to be productive.
The Surface is built with a unique magnesium casing that should be tough and able to withstand punishment while traveling. That could make it a great companion for those looking for a lightweight, durable and powerful computer to use while they are away for an extended period of time. I could see these being quite popular in base camps around the world for instance, as they are lighter than a laptop but still have plenty of muscle to do most of the things we need to do on the road.
Despite the rosy outlook for the Surface tablet there are still quite a few questions that need to be answered. For instance, at this point we still don’t know anything about the battery life of the device, which is always crucial in any piece of technology that you travel with. Microsoft hasn’t given us a release date or price yet either, although both the RT and Pro are expected to come on staggered dates later this fall. The RT is reportedly going to be priced to compete with the iPad, while the Pro will be more inline with an ultrabook laptop. That means that they are likely to be $500 and $1000 respectively.
Personally I’m looking forward taking one of these Surface tablets for a test run. They have a great design and seem like they’ll be a perfect option for road warriors and adventure travelers. The proof will be in the pudding as they say and we won’t know if the device will live up the hype until they are released to the real world and we can see how they perform. For now though, this looks like a potentially great new product that will help us stay in touch and chronicle our adventures. We’ll know a lot more in the weeks ahead.
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