At the Surface launch at the Microsoft Store in Costa Mesa, CA, I stood in line to be among the first to buy the first PC developed by Microsoft.

With bright employee T-shirts that matched the Surface Touch Cover colors and an exceptionally well-mannered staff, each buyer was groomed to try out and experience Surface.

The first experience involved snapping one of five Touch Covers to the device. The employee demonstrated how easy it was snap the polyurethane flap to the tablet. Click. It works as advertised.

The moment of truth came when testing the Touch Cover as a keyboard. The employee opened Word 2013 and off I went typing like a fiend without error as if on standard keyboard. Shockingly it works, and it works REALLY well.

Next came the actual Surface unit. It’s beautiful. Made of Vapor Mg (Magnesium), the tablet is pressed to perfection, angled with grace, and as sturdy as a block of wood. The kickstand flips out with confidence and closes with a elegant clasp.

Ten minutes later I walked out with the Surface 32GB with a Black Touch Cover.

Surface is a custom frame to showcase Windows 8. The 10.6-inch display offers a landscape mode to view a bevy of live tile icons that update information like E-mail, News, and Sports. Windows RT, running on an ARM-based quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3, deftly flips through multiple open apps. However, apps were a bit slower to load then expected. This is likely a software optimization issue, as updates to several key apps provided faster load times.

The Windows desktop offers traditional PC functionality. With the kickstand and Touch Cover setup this tablet turns into a full travel notebook with touch screen. I had no problem typing full articles on the Touch Cover and using touch actions instead of a mouse, though users can plug in any USB peripheral into the side port to create a mobile workstation.

A full review of Microsoft Surface will be published next week.

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