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The SUR40, as a wall hanging device  (Source: Samsung)
Surface is primarily targeted at education, business users for table, hanging, and kiosk installations

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Surface multi-touch computer was first presented to the public in May 2007, more than a year before Apple, Inc. (AAPL) was rewarded a patent for multi-touch gestures. It launched in prototype form in April 2008, a full two years before the market launch of the iPad.

But the device is finally here (dubbed the "SUR40"), and you can buy one for the lowly price of $8,400 USD (roughly 17 10-inch iPads).  

I. SUR40 Hardware and Software

That's actually about what you'd expect if you considered the LCD the driving factor on price and assumed linear scaling in cost per square inch. You get roughly 685 in2 out of the 40-inch (diagonal) 1,920x1,080 (16:9) display, compared to 45 in2 for the iPad's 1024x768 (4:3) 9.7-inch display.  The display features an 8 ms response time and 300 cd/m2 brightness.

The packaging and device display are manufactured by South Korea's Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930).  The device without a stand measures 109.5x10.25x70.74 cm (43.11x4.04x27.85 in.) and weighs 39.5 kg (87.1 lb).

Surface, standing

Inside, it packs an AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core 245e (2.9GHz), a 45 watt (low power) Phenom II processor which debuted in May 2010.   The GPU is also provided by AMD and is an AMD HD6750M, a low-power mobile GPU that in benchmarks performs roughly between an NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) GeForce GT 540M and GT 550M.

The system draws 230 W (by Microsoft's estimate) when fully loaded and 2 watts when in standby.  There's 4 GB of DDR3 onboard; 320 GB of SATA2-connected storage; 1 HDMI port; 4 USB 2.0 ports (what no USB 3.0 love?); and the standard 100/1000 ethernet jack.

The operating system du jour is Windows 7, with the Surface 2.0 software built on top of it (Surface 1.0: Vista; Surface 2.0: Windows 7).  This is an identical configuration to the model showed off at CES 2011.  Microsoft offers a Surface SDK, allowing third party app makers to develop commercial solutions and businesses to develop internal touch-software.

II. Target Audience

Prices vary slightly outside the U.S.  A Microsoft spokeswoman explains, "The Samsung SUR40 will be distributed via the Samsung distribution channel and the estimated street price will be $8,400 in the U.S. for the base unit. Outside of the U.S., pricing will vary based on country-specific duties, taxes and fees."

At the price point Microsoft is clearly targeting the device primarily at business and educational users, though a few cash-endowed enthusiasts may jump at the novelty of owning the world's biggest multi-touch device.  Microsoft's press release suggest the device can be displayed as a table (perhaps in a lobby or meeting room); as a wall-hanging device; or even in an angle kiosk enclosure.

Surface Garage
Microsoft sees the Surface as the ideal collaborative business device. [Source: Microsoft]

The device is available for preorder in:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States

Microsoft suggests it already has received deployment promises from multiple interested business, writing:

Automotive, education, finance, healthcare, hospitality, and retail are just some of the industries that will soon be able to take advantage of Samsung SUR40’s PixelSense technology, new, sleeker form factor and horizontal and vertical orientation options. Many new and existing customers, such as Aéroports de Paris, Dassault Aviation, Fujifilm Corp. and Royal Bank of Canada, have big plans for the Samsung SUR40 and are preparing to deploy units in locations early next year.

The ship date was not announced by Microsoft.

Microsoft small-screen tablets will debut in earnest with Windows 8, which launches late next year.  They will pack the Metro UI, Microsoft's GUI of choice for small mobile devices.

Sources: Microsoft [blog], Samsung [specs]

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who else immediately thought....
By xti on 11/17/2011 11:52:55 AM , Rating: 3

RE: who else immediately thought....
By mkrech on 11/17/2011 12:00:55 PM , Rating: 5

RE: who else immediately thought....
By Brandon Hill on 11/17/2011 12:05:28 PM , Rating: 5
I guess that gives new meaning to the term multi-touch...

By yomamafor1 on 11/17/2011 12:46:32 PM , Rating: 2

RE: who else immediately thought....
By AnnihilatorX on 11/17/2011 2:05:48 PM , Rating: 2
The multitouch gestures I know are the pinch zoom and twist rotate

By Mitch101 on 11/18/2011 5:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
Enhance, Zoom in on sector 7, Enhance, Enhance, ENHANCE!

RE: who else immediately thought....
By AssBall on 11/17/2011 12:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
^^ this

By borismkv on 11/17/2011 12:44:04 PM , Rating: 1
There's an app for that. If not, there will be.

RE: who else immediately thought....
By kleinma on 11/17/2011 3:01:29 PM , Rating: 2
One of the really cool surface demos I have seen was one that controlled an RC helicopter... The entire surface screen was transmitting live camera footage from the copter, and the bottom had the touch controls needed to operate it.. Was very impressive, and it wasn't even a beta, it was really just a demo.

By Labotomizer on 11/17/2011 5:10:09 PM , Rating: 2
What is left out is how advanced the multi-touch is over current devices. We played with the V1 system at the Microsoft store when they opened it at the Houston Galleria. Talk about a cool device. We had 5 people playing a tetris style game where all 5 were able to use 3-4 touches all at once and it could tell who was who. You could also set your credit card on there and have it read the card and pay a bill, as a demo of course since we weren't at a restaraunt. There are countless uses for this thing. It has very few limitations to the number of inputs it will pick up at once.

Currently it's pointless for home but in 5 years? I could easily see myself buying a coffee table with this built into a glass surface. With new display tech it could look like plan glass until you need to interact with it and the display would light up. Well, perhaps 5 years is a little hopeful, but these kind of interfaces will be all over our home in the next 10-15 years. The glass on your fridge, the walls of your room, the desk you're sitting at. There really is no limitation. If you've seen the Microsoft Office of the Future video you can see just how important Surface is to their long term plans.

RE: who else immediately thought....
By ClownPuncher on 11/17/2011 3:28:28 PM , Rating: 2
I would actually like to use one of these for graphical representation of nerdy tabletop RPG grid systems, with UI's for character sheets and DM info etc..

RE: who else immediately thought....
By Labotomizer on 11/17/2011 5:11:58 PM , Rating: 2
Surface Neverwinter Nights please! That would be pretty epic if you could lay out your dungeon and have the players interact with the Surface table top while you control the behind the scenes action with another tablet. Man, you got me wanting to play table top DnD for the first time in 10 years with an idea like that.

RE: who else immediately thought....
By ClownPuncher on 11/17/2011 5:17:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, it would really bring life back into that type of gaming.

By GuinnessKMF on 11/18/2011 11:45:05 AM , Rating: 2
It's already being done, Surface D&D:

By StevoLincolnite on 11/17/2011 6:57:36 PM , Rating: 2
Surface Neverwinter Nights please!

It should be possible if someone mods Neverwinter nights for touch support.

You *could* run games like Master of Orion 2 on it, which works great on my Windows 7 convertible netbook/tablet's touch.

"Surface" is just a software layer like the up-coming Metro GUI, at the heart of this machine is Windows 7 so you can use it like a proper desktop. (I have surface on my convertible netbook/tablet)

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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