Surface computing - how will this help?

Microsoft has just made a major announcement that they are re-inventing the tabletop computer.

Is this a big thing? Is it new? Is it going to change the world?

First of all, what is it?
Basically Surface is a hardware product which allows the user to directly interact with a smart application system on a tabletop directly, without the need to use a keyboard, mouse or other device. The surface also is able to read, sense and interact with devices, cards, and documents placed upon it to perform various tasks.

The first applications of this are going to be in major hotels as a functional kiosk type device, to assist people finding out information. It could do things like plan your day's trip, outings, restaurants and so on, and then send them to your phone's calendar and mapping programs to help you get there.

T-mobile seem to be using it to help sell new phones. In fact the demo seems to imply that you walk into a shop, put a few phones on the surface, and it will compare their features on the screen, and help you decide. Once you decide, put your current phone on the table, and transfer all your details. Then, just put down your credit card and buy the phone.

I guess the other uses are perhaps endless, and perhaps this device can do a lot of things quite smoothly and easily.

What is the Reaction to Surface?
Reading around a bit, I have come across a few ideas from different people.

First of all, it will be aimed at first at enterprise purely from a unit cost point of view. These things will cost around $5-10K, so its obviously not a home use thing. Also you will need to start writing applications to fit your use of the device, since it is such a new thing.

Deal Architect notes that this product is already getting adopted by Harrah's, Starwood Hotels, T-Mobile, and probably others to follow.

However it will take time to see when you are likely to see this product surface in your area...