New Microsoft tablet takes aim at the iPad

5:53 PM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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(NBC) - Microsoft is taking aim at the iPad with a tablet computer it's calling "Surface".

It's about the same weight and thickness as the iPad, but with a larger, 10.6 inch HD screen.

Among the unit's distinguishing features are a built in kick stand to prop the unit up, as well as a detachable cover that doubles as a keyboard.

Front and rear facing cameras are also part of the mix, with storage options ranging from 32 to 128 gigabytes.

"I think, to some extent, this could be a reference design, where you inspire other manufacturers to make products to compete," says CNET.com senior editor Scott Stein.

The new tablet will hit stores in the fall to coincide with Microsoft's release of its new Windows 8 operating system.

Financial Times writer Richard Waters says the Surface tablet puts the company in competition against computer makers they're normally partnered with, not to mention the company everyone's chasing, Apple, with its dominant iPad.

"What they're showing the entire pc world, all those other PC makers is, this is what you're got to do. And if you're not going to do it, we're going to do it," Waters says.

One crucial element the company did not reveal is price.

Another is battery life.

"One of the chief reasons the iPad was a huge success in the first place was because that battery life was unprecedented. It lasted so long, it became a truly useful mobile device," Stein notes.

"Surface" marks a concerted effort by the software giant to make inroads in a hardware realm where its had mixed success.

The arrival of Surface comes as Apple's iPad continues to dominate the tablet market, accounting for six of every ten tablets sold, according to research firm IHS iSuppli.

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