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« iPad mini launch event is confirmed via media invites | Main | Toshiba's U920T Ultrabook leads double-life as a tablet »

Microsoft thinks $499 for a Windows RT Surface tablet is a good deal


By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

You can now pre-order a Microsoft Surface tablet with Windows RT for US $499 ( CAN $519). If you want to get the cool magnetic cover with a built-in keyboard, it will cost you US $ 119 extra (CAN $129). “We’re pretty darn excited about the price, the value,” Microsoft's Windows head Steven Sinofsky explained to select reporters on Monday during an exclusive preview. “When you think about everything you are getting, this is a terrific deal.” 

The windows RT Surface is priced the same as the new iPad with Retina Display which also sells for $519 although Apple's entry-level Retina iPad only ships with 16GB or storage.

According to All things D, Surface will be sold only via Microsoft’s Web site and its chain of about 65 temporary and permanent retail stores. Surface will hit store shelves Oct. 26, the same day that Windows 8 goes on sale. Canadians who purchase the device online are being told that "Your order will ship by October 26 and arrive by October 30."

The Surface tablet is a  Microsoft designed and developed product and is expected to compete with a slew of tablets and tablet-ultrabook hybrids from various manufacturers creating Windows 8 devices. Some of who have already stated they are staying away from Windows RT.

The Windows RT version of Surface up for pre-order can't run regular Windows 7 apps. It will only run RT specific Metro-style apps. Using low-powered ARM chips designed for all-day use,  it will ship with an RT version of Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer plus whatever apps are available via the built-in Windows App Store.

Many analysts see the Windows RT Surface as Microsoft's competitor to Apple's iPad in terms of functionality and pricing. Some months ago, I wrote about the Surface and looked at the reasons and motivations why Microsoft has entered into the devices game. The consensus is that Microsoft felt they had one shot at creating its tablet solution and it wanted to make sure to lead the way to make sure it got done right. 

Past tablet-based initiatives by Microsoft such as TabletPC, WindowsCE, PocketPC and UMPC failed to gain market share because hardware partners priced devices too high and failed to realize the potential put forth by Microsoft'. The Surface is Microsoft simply avoiding a repeat of those costly failures by setting the standard as well as creating a new hardware niche for itself.

Another version of the Surface, one that runs Windows 8 Professional, is slated for release in 2013 and that's the version that will be able to run most of the existing Windows 7 apps. It will likely cost significantly more. 

To get a more comprehensive idea of the difference between the two devices, check out this comparison from Microsoft.

A Surface advertisement, part of the $1 billion promotional extravaganza Microsoft is spending to promote Windows 8, shows a style-over-substance look at the tablet. Clearly focused on consumers and a youthful market, the advert doesn't really show what one can do with the tablet. Nor does the five minute music video state the difference between Windows RT and Windows Pro, perhaps they're saving that for later. 

So is it more a tablet or a laptop?

According to the All Things D report, Microsoft's Synofsky replied by saying “I’ve used a lot of tablets and this is not a tablet but it is the best tablet I’ve ever used,” It is a new kind of device.” 

The Surface RT tablet is expected to use a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, will have 2GB or RAM, weighs 1.5 lbs, features a 10.6" ClearType HD Display with 1366x768 pixel resolution.

We've ordered a Microsoft Surface RT tablet to test and will have a comprehensive review up once we've put it through its paces.


Source: All Things D

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