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Microsoft stays mum on Surface tablet’s living room role

Microsoft's new Surface tablet

Microsoft's new Surface tablet with smart cover

After exciting the tech community at the end of last week by announcing a “major” media event to take place in Los Angeles, Microsoft unveiled its answer to the iPad yesterday.

The new Surface tablet marks Microsoft’s latest foray into manufacturing its own devices in the name of better integration between hardware and software, and will run on the Windows 8 OS due to launch late next month.

In presenting the new device however, CEO Steve Ballmer failed to give any clear indication on how the Surface tablet will fit into the company’s increasingly successful assault on the living room.

For example, no mention was made of whether the SmartGlass app unveiled at E3 will work on it (though it’s a pretty safe bet to say it will), and no indication was given of how it will fit into the Xbox experience.

Also omitted were pricing details, with Ballmer stating only that it will be priced “to competitive rates with ARM tablets” – ARM being the licensor of chip designs to Microsoft’s bête noir, Apple.

The Surface tablet will come in two versions, powered by different chipsets (the Intel version offering more grunt and a higher resolution screen than the Windows RT model), and offer more connectivity options than the iPad, including USB 2.0 and a DisplayPort connection, but no camera.

Innovative smart covers were also unveiled for the devices, offering a built-in keyboard and multitouch trackpad (with one version being capacitative and the other having conventional moving keys).

No word was given on the Surface tablet’s release window.

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