Magnesium chassis, vapour deposition coating, cutaway edges, ClearType HD display; the design credentials and the specs for Microsoft’s new Windows RT tablet are impressive and in the flesh this is a delightful piece of hardware.
It’s thin, it’s light, it’s comfortable to hold, it runs Windows RT as excellently as you’d expect, it makes you want to touch it but it’s also designed so you can snap the magnetically attached cover into place.
The front is sleek black glass, precision bonded to the magnesium alloy chassis with only a Windows logo visible – the word Microsoft doesn’t show up on the case anywhere.
Turn it on and the 10.6″ screen fills most of the Surface’s front display, but the four edges have half an inch of bezel so you can hold it comfortably.
The Windows logo isn’t just for show; it’s a touch button that gives you the Start screen when you tap on it, plus the whole bezel is touch-aware so you can swipe across it to bring up the App bar or the switching pane
The hinge is usually held in place by an array of magnets so it doesn’t fall out if you shake the Surface around; on the left there’s a little cutout in the edge of the hinge to make it easier to flip out.
If you’ve seen Apple’s SmartCover on the new iPad 3, then this method of connection won’t be a surprise – it’s another move that shows Microsoft is intending to go toe-to-toe with the Cupertino brand in the tablet arena.
The Surface tablet also balances well on the hinge, which has two long rubber feet to stabilise it.