Microsoft's near-mythical Surface table just appeared at five AT&T Stores across the country (with seven more locations soon to get one), and we were happy to have a go with it this morning. As you'll see in the video, this one is programmed for mobile phone sales pitches, and doesn't have all of the fun apps we've heard about, but even here, Surface's massive, beautiful potential is obvious.
I panned and zoomed around coverage maps easily, best when I relaxed my touch, as pressing too hard made the table less responsive. Placing a specially-tagged phone on the Surface brought up information about it, including service plans, accessories, and the ability to see it in different colours. When two phones are placed on the table, a side-by-side comparison chart appears. The actions available on the AT&T Store table include flick, zoom in/out, flip, drag and the object-sensing ability.
My favourite part of the Surface is that it has lots of touch points; one person can zoom in on an object while another person flicks a different object. At one point, we had 30 fingers on the table, and they were all registering. The ability to collaborate in a physical way (group painting or photo sharing come to mind) will definitely be a big draw. Inevitable comparisons to the iPhone—curiously unavailable to place on the table—are warranted: It's basically the same feel, but 10x bigger.
Don't expect this to replace AT&T reps just yet, as purchasing still can't be done directly on the Surface. Still, it's definitely one cool tool that we look forward to seeing in other arenas. It's at five AT&T locations starting today (two in NYC, one each in San Fransisco, San Antonio, and Atlanta), and it will be in 12 stores by next month. [Microsoft Surface]