20 Jun 2012
Surface tablets. Unanswered questions…
But lets talk now about an unanswered questions…
How much will these goodies cost? Microsoft isn’t revealing details. The official line is relatively vague:
Suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC.
If one assumes that “comparable ARM tablet” means an iPad equipped with 32 or 64 GB of memory, then the equivalent Windows RT Surface models should cost $600 and $700, respectively. Of course, that price will presumably include the keyboard cover (available as extra-cost add-ons from Apple and third parties). It will also include Microsoft Office.
As for the Windows 8 Professional Surface, the current crop of Ultrabooks runs $999, plus or minus a couple hundred dollars. That is, not coincidentally, the starting price of a MacBook Air.
Of course, one could make the case that a single Surface device is actually two devices in one—a tablet and a keyboard-equipped notebook. If prospective buyers accept that proposition, then a “competitive” price will seem like a bargain.
What kind of apps will be available for Windows 8 RT when the tablet launches?
Microsoft is going to make sure that their Mail and Office apps will be included and that should take care of the basic productivity needs in a way that will (probably) truly please users accustomed to MS Office on Windows. But soon thereafter, users will want more, and Microsoft will need blockbuster apps and services on its platform. Netflix was demonstrated on-stage during the launch.
The ultimate question is: what is the battery life like?
One of the major appeals for tablets is their long battery life, so Microsoft has to provide something good, or certainly “good enough” at the very least. With a 31.5 Wh battery, the Surface for Windows RT lands somewhere between the iPad 2 (25Wh) and the iPad gen3 (42.5Wh) in terms of capacity. Remember that most of the iPad Gen 3 extra battery capacity is there to cater to the Retina display. Given that the Surface for Windows 8 RT tablet uses a normal display, the battery life of the Surface RT should be very good, if not excellent, but only independent tests will tell.
It’s reasonable to expect that the two devices will be able to match Apple’s specs for the equivalent devices, but we won’t know until we can test shipping hardware.
The same questions are valid for the Microsoft Surface Pro. We already know what apps it runs (everything Windows), so the battery life is also a major question for that one. At 43 Wh, it is outgunned by laptops that can pack up to 77Wh of battery. That said, with a smaller 10.6? display, the power requirements may go down by a notch, but this is not a slam-dunk like the RT tablet seems to be. We can’t wait to put both tablets to the test and report back to you.
When can you buy one?
Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability (GA) of Windows and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later. Both will be sold in the Microsoft Stores in the US and available through select online Microsoft Stores.
The Windows 8 GA expecting in October, which means a four-month wait for ARM-powered Surface tablets. And you’ll have to wait till early 2013 to get your hands on an Intel-powered Surface.
Detailed specs still unclear.
In the private demo area after the event, Joshua Topolsky of The Verge and I peppered Microsoft reps for details on specs like screen resolution, but we got no definitive answers. The press release says the Windows RT model has a “ClearType HD display,” while the Pro model has a “ClearType Full HD display.”
In his onstage introduction of the Pro model, they noted its “1080 resolution,” which would explain the “Full HD” label. Based on my inspection of the Windows RT version, I suspect it’s a 1366×768 device, which can handle 720p HD content.
This announcement was unprecedented both in its form and in its substance, and it will take some time to digest the impact of it all.
Will these new, unquestionably impressive designs put to rest the doubts that some critics have expressed about the Metro user experience?
Will consumers be confused by the differences between two similarly named devices with very different capabilities? Many people already confused with what should be a simple question: Do both these devices run Windows 8?
Interestingly, how will Android device makers react? The current crop of Android-powered tablets is incredibly weak compared to the iPad. The new Surface designs offer another point of comparison where Android falls far short.
Even more interesting, how will Apple respond? We will see anyway.
If you want to read original info from Microsoft, the link is:
Official Windows Surface Page
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