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Microsoft Unveils New Surface Tablet

Microsoft (LOS ANGELES) -- After a long build up about Microsoft's mystery announcement, CEO Steve Ballmer showed off the company's new Windows 8 tablet, called "Microsoft Surface," Monday night in Los Angeles.

The Surface is just 9.3mm thick, has a scratch-resistant magnesium exterior, weighs less than 1.5 pounds and has a 10.6 inch screen, which is slightly larger than that of the iPad. With a built-in USB port, a kickstand and cover that doubles as a physical keyboard, the Surface is more than just a tablet -- it's a PC, the tech giant says. Microsoft says the device is "designed to seamlessly transition between consumption and creation" and will function as a full PC that will run programs like Photoshop and Office.

The Surface is clearly meant to compete with Apple's iPad and other tablets already on the market, and Microsoft demonstrated several features existing tablets only have as accessories, if at all.  Engadget's Tim Stevens says other developers working on their own Windows 8 tablets should be worried.

"Microsoft has set the bar very high for Windows 8 tablets with these Surface devices.  They look great, they're very thin, they look to be very well-engineered," Stevens says. "And for companies like Aesus and Lenovo, people who are working on their own Windows 8 tablets … they've just had to rethink some things, I imagine."

Some critical specifications were not mentioned at Monday's unveiling such as price, screen resolution, battery life or the specific release date.

There are currently two models -- a basic Surface and a higher-end "Surface Pro."  The basic version will be available with 32 or 64 GB of memory. The more powerful Pro will be configured with 64 or 128 GB. Stevens says the Pro version could be priced similar to their UltraBook range of laptops, which cost anywhere from $700 all the way up to $1,400 or $1,500.  The basic Surface will likely be cost comparable to other Android tablet in the $400 to $600 range, he says.

So when will gadget lovers be able to purchase Microsoft's new tablets? Stevens says the lower-end Surface will be available around October and will launch at the same time as Windows 8.  The Pro version, he adds, won't be released for another three months after the initial Surface release -- which could be in early 2013.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio