FAQ: What we don't know about Microsoft's Surface tablet

If the saying 'What you don't know can kill you' is true, how much danger are Microsoft and its customers in?

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How long will it take to charge a Surface? We know you're shocked, but we don't know. Microsoft hasn't said, and like the battery lifespan, didn't include that information in the too-short spec sheet.

There weren't shots of the case or ports -- by the way, the images on Microsoft's website weren't even photographs, but according to the company were "design renderings," or in other words, Photoshop images -- to show us whether there was a dedicated power port or whether the single USB port would fill in instead via a link to, say, another computer.

What's the screen resolution? We're not sure. Microsoft called the Windows RT tablet's display "ClearType HD," which isn't even as descriptive as Apple's "Retina" marketing label. The Windows 8 tablet, meanwhile, was tagged as sporting "ClearType Full HD" screen. Whatever that is.

The speculation consensus is that the Surface has 720p, or 1280-by-720-pixel resolution, while the Surface Pro boasts 1080p, or 1920-by-1020-pixel resolution.

For comparison, Apple's new iPad has 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution, last year's iPad 2 offers 1024-by-768-pixel resolution and the 11-in. MacBook Air 1366-by-768-pixel resolution. And the new Retina-equipped MacBook Pro, though, sports resolution of an amazing 2880-by-1800-pixels.

Why didn't Microsoft start taking orders? We think we know this one: Because it hasn't yet decided on prices. If it had made up its mind, Microsoft would have been smart to set prices and use Monday's buzz to pre-sell the tablet. People would have likely hammered Microsoft's servers trying to order one (or more).

It was a major missed opportunity, but not unique: Apple has also blown chances for earlier sales. Although then-CEO Steve Jobs held up the first iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007, the smartphone didn't go on sale until June 29, almost seven months later.

The lag was shorter three years later, when Jobs revealed the original iPad on Jan. 27, 2010. Apple started taking pre-orders for its first tablet on March 12, and shipped the device April 3.

How much RAM is in these tablets? Unknown. That's not unusual, as tablet makers often decline to name the number. But it's important to know how much memory is in the Surface Pro because that model is just a PC in a tighter form factor.

We have to know the onboard memory to know how many applications can be run simultaneously, and even which will run well. To complicate matters, it's unlikely that the tablet's RAM will be upgradeable, so what we get is what we'll have.

When the tablet ships, people will spy out the RAM quantity, but until then, it may remain a mystery.

What's the deal with the covers? Does one come with the tablet? Okay, this is getting repetitive ... we don't know. Microsoft's executives spent an inordinate amount of time Monday on the covers and their built-in keyboards, and perhaps for that reason many analysts tagged those covers-cum-keyboards as a top feature of the Surface, and a major differentiator from rivals.

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