Well, for once the internet rumor mongers were right, Microsoft had an impromptu press conference yesterday in L.A. to introduce their new Microsoft branded “Surface” tablet. The “Surface” is Microsofts furst foray back into hardware development and sales since the Xbox (and peripherals).

The Surface tablet is not just an e-reader type device or even a plain media consumption device as some had speculated. It is a fully functional high-powered tablet that looks to really shake up both the consumer and business markets.

From a software side, the Surface is running full fledge Windows 8 (or Windows RT depending on the chipset). Which means it is a full powered fully functional tool that has a high-powered OS that can run any program that your PC / Laptop can. It also is one step closer to complete integration between phone, tablet, pc, and gaming system that Microsoft has been pushing towards for a while.

For hardware this tablet is no slouch,  its sporting a 10.6″ 16:9 widescreen HD Display. Microsoft has introduced a new ClearType HD Display for the Surface that delivers ultra-wide viewing angles, auto-adjusting screen intensity and great picture for movies and photos. Both versions of the Surface feature 2×2 MIMI antennae, but depending on the version you choose you get a different assortment of connection options. The RT version (running on ARM/NVidia chipset) features microSD, USB 2.0, and Micro HD Video. The Pro version (running on Intel chipset) features microSDXC, USB 3.0, and Mini DisplayPort Video.

The Surface also comes with two innovative features standard. First is the integrated Kickstand, which is 3mm thin. The second and more interesting is the pressure sensitive cover that doubles as a fully functioning keyboard and trackpad. The Touch Cover connects to the Surface with a single magnet set and allows you full laptop style functionality without adding any size to the tablet. There are a myriad of Touch Cover color options at launch that allow you to customize the Surface but regardless of which you choose they all carry the same level of functionality.

This is really a big step in tablets and it’s an amazing introduction for Microsoft who may be jeopardizing some solid hardware partnerships by introducing such a cutting edge piece of equipment. But as Apple has shown if you want to deliver high quality and high control over your eco-system you must have your own hardware. Google has done this with the Nexus program, and now Microsoft is doing it with the Surface.

Microsoft did not announce pricing for either version but said that the RT version would be priced along with similar level tablets that are currently on the market and that the Pro version would be priced along the lines of ultrabooks. The RT version will be available when Windows 8 launches, with the Pro version following three months later.

Full Specs: