Microsoft Unveils iPad-Competitor Tablet Computer Called the Surface

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Microsoft announced its iPad-competitor tablet computer called the Surface at a press event Monday in Los Angeles.

CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the device, which features a 10.6-inch screen, two USB ports, a magnesium case, Corning's flexible break-resistant Gorilla Glass screen and a built-in stand packed into a 1.5-pound half-inch package for the base model.

Users can add a magnetically connecting touch cover that features a multi-touch keyboard or can input data using a digital pen.

The Surface can display content in 1080p HD resolution. 

The base model runs Microsoft's new Windows RT operating system. A pro model will run the forthcoming Windows 8. Both operating systems were designed with touch-based and mobile computing at their core.

Surface, Windows RT and Windows 8 will debut simultaneously in the fall, though Microsoft has not announced an exact release date.

The new tablet will be available in 32GB and 64GB models (similar to the high-end iPad), with the 64GB and 128GB pro models debuting about three months later.

Ballmer declined to specify pricing, only saying it would be comparable with ultrabook PCs. The new entry-level Vizio ultrabook is priced at $900. The entry-level iPad is priced at $399. 

Surface is clearly designed to challenge Apple's dominant iPad by adding options -- USB ports, better Wi-Fi reception, a pen input -- that some users thought lacking in the industry's standard-setting device.

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