CAD… on a tablet. I’m sitting behind a 30″ display (with another 27″ display to the side) and dreaming about using 3D software on touch-screen tablet. What is wrong with me? Could it be possible? Could it be usable? The iPad had been all the rage, but other tablets like the Samsung Slate, Acer Iconia, Fujitsu Stylistic and others with their native ability to run a full operating system and professional software are making the iOS app device look like a fancy ebook reader. This week Microsoft has unveiled their own tablet, the ‘Surface’ Windows 8 tablet, striking small amounts of fear/hope in other tablet makers and bringing new options to professional CAD slappers on the go. Is the age of CAD on the tablet upon us?

Microsoft Surface

The Windows 8 tablet features an optically bonded 10.6″ multi-touch 1920 x 1080 display, magnesium enclosure, multiple input ports, an integrated kickstand and a cover that doubles as a keyboard. That’s what is on the outside. AppleInsider reports two different devices, with different processors will be released. An ‘Windows 8 Pro’ Intel version will harness an Ivy bridge processor running Windows 8 Pro weighing in at 1.9 lbs at 13.5mm thick. To confuse things slightly, a thinner ‘Windows RT’ (mobile ARM Processor version) at 1.5lb and 9.8mm thick will be available. Although much thinner, the smaller RT version will still have microSD, USB 2.0 and Micro HD Video ports. Why to versions? Professional and consumer. Bad idea? What do you think?

To get an overtly intesnse feeling of what’s to come, here’s the Microsoft Surface highlight video.

The images here are not the actual product however. You can view this hands-on video to see it in real life. These images were created using Pro/ENGINEER and Creo to create the model and KeyShot for the 3D renderings.

Will you use it for product design?

The big question. I don’t like small screens, but I don’t like not being mobile either. Given the choice right now, I’d be inclined to choose the Microsoft Surface with it’s 10.6″ display over a larger laptop. You?

Oh, another thought on this. A lot of companies have been racing to bring out iOS apps, Autodesk having the most CAD/Design related. Could it be that other 3D software companies are holding off, thinking that regular software will be able to run on tablets before the demand for professional level mobile devices picks up? I believe so.

Images: Microsoft


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.