The Surface is a hybrid device that combines the features of a tablet and a laptop. It does not require any external input devices and can be used as a standalone touchscreen tablet. However, the Surface easily connects to Microsoft's custom keyboard, which includes a trackpad that can be used to control a cursor on the screen. The built-in "kickstand" allows the tablet to stand upright, and when combined with the keyboard, makes the Surface look and feel like a laptop.
The Surface runs both Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro, though the device initially shipped exclusively with Windows RT. Both operating systems support touchscreen and keyboard/mouse input, which means you can use the Surface however you prefer. For example, if you are on-the-go, you can use the on-screen keyboard to enter text input. If you are at a desk, you can flip out the kickstand and use the physical keyboard. You can also use the keyboard's built-in trackpad or a connected mouse to click on items rather than tapping the screen.
The Surface is designed to be a highly portable device and therefore includes built-in wireless communication, such as Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0. It also has a USB port for wired peripherals, a micro SDXC card slot for extra storage, an audio input/output jack, and a micro HDMI video out port. The Surface's magnesium case includes built-in front and rear-facing 720p HD cameras and a 16x9 screen with a resolution of 1366x768 pixels.
NOTE: The Surface can be purchased with or without a keyboard. You can choose between either the "touch keyboard," which has a flat, spill-proof surface, or the "type keyboard," which has raised keys and feels more like a traditional keyboard. Both keyboards double as protective covers for the Surface and can be folded to the back of the tablet when not in use.
Updated: November 1, 2012