In a surprise move yesterday, Microsoft announced their forthcoming Surface tablet, intended to compete with the iPad. Microsoft has a mixed record with their physical products—the Kin cell phones were an abject failure, the Courier dual-screen tablets were shelved, and the Xbox was eventually a tremendous success—but there are some points of interest, from an industrial design standpoint, on the Surface.
First off, there's a kickstand incorporated into the body of the tablet itself, an interesting idea if it allows freedom of angle placement (no word on whether it does). Secondly, it will sport both a Micro SD slot and a USB port to make file transfers easy. Thirdly, the screen is about an inch larger than the iPad's, at 10.6 inches.
But by far the most interesting feature is the Surface's cover. They've borrowed Apple's magnetic connection, but turned the cover into a keyboard in itself, in two varieties: A superthin "Touch" version, presumably for casual use, and a slightly thicker "Type" version, presumably for heavier use.
The Surface will come in two versions, a thinner base version and a thicker model with heavier processing power. No word yet on when either will be released.