By TAN KIT HOONGbytz@thestar.com.my
AS MENTIONED in an earlier report, Microsoft has confirmed that it is launching the company's own tablet, the Surface RT, in Malaysia on April 25.
The Surface RT marks Microsoft's entry into the tablet market with its own branded hardware, ostensibly competing against the company's own licensees in the Windows tablet market.
The Surface RT runs on Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 made specifically to run on ARM processors.
Windows RT has seen very slow adoption amongst third party hardware makers, some of which have dropped plans for producing Windows RT-based tablets in favour of the x86-based Windows 8 tablets.
The biggest difference in Windows RT is that it can only run apps made for the Modern UI (and sold in the Windows Store) - applications made only for x86 (such as an app for Windows 7) do not work in the Windows RT environment.
Nevertheless, on the hardware front, the Surface RT compares well with other ARM-based tablets - the screen is a 10.6in 1366 x 768-pixel IPS display and is powered by a quad-core nVidia Tegra 3 with 2GB of RAM.
The frame of the Surface RT is made of a hardy magnesium alloy which Microsoft calls VaporMG, and even comes with its own kickstand built into the back of the device.
There's also a USB 2.0 port, microSDXC slot, front- and back-facing 720p webcams, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n, micro HDMI port, two microphones and stereo speakers.
What's particularly interesting about the design of the Surface RT is that it can be paired with either one of two optional flipcovers with integrated keyboards.
The Touch Cover is a slim magnetic cover similar to the one on the iPad, except that it integrates a full QWERTY keyboard on the inside. However, Microsoft has sacrificed tactile feedback in favour of keeping the cover thin, so extended typing on the Touch Cover is not as comfortable as it could be.
Users who require a better typing experience can instead opt for the Type Cover, which is slightly thicker and heavier, but integrates real notebook-style keys.
The price of the Surface RT starts at RM1,549.
You can buy it online at Microsoft Malaysia site (http://bit.ly/11SykLc) or in stores in Harvey Norman, Thunder Match Technology, or Challenger.