By Jonathan Charles | Jun 22, 2012 10:24 AM EDT
On Monday, June 18, Microsoft was frustratingly vague on when and for what price its Surface tablets would launch. Naturally speculation has followed. So what can fans expect to pay for the Windows 8 tablet?
Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft, said Surface would release around the "general availability of Windows 8," which is rumored to be around October. That's because Surface runs Windows 8, and it'll be competitive with Windows ARM and Intel Ultrabook PCs.
In terms of the hardware, both Surface tablets - running Windows RT and Windows Pro - are thin and light. However, they are almost an inch bigger than the iPad (9.7 inches on the new iPad, versus 10.6 on Surface). Windows RT for Surface weighs 676 grams and measure 9.7 mm thick, uses a 31.5Wh battery and a ClearType 10.6-inch HD display. Then there's the 64GB offering, along with 32GB.
Surface for Windows Pro is heavier at 903 grams and 13.5 mm thin - for comparison, the new iPad is 9.4 mm - and uses the same aforementioned ClearType display but with a "Full HD" resolution. The exact resolution for both devices has not been specified. It comes in 64GB and 128GB variants.
Sources speaking to DigiTimes said the estimated consumer price will be "at least above US$799," and Surface for Windows RT will be above $599. Those prices may be seen as a tad high by consumers, especially with the iPad being available from $499. Microsoft is reportedly expected to only receive limited profits from the devices, so pricing them high seems like an odd strategy.
On the other hand, the 32GB iPad - the minimum storage size of Surface for Windows RT - is $599 for the Wi-Fi only model. The 64GB new iPad starts at $699, which would be $100 cheaper than Surface for Windows RT, while the Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad model retails for $829. Depending on the needs of the consumer, Surface could be more or less expensive.
Microsoft's added the device won't be as cheap as the $199 Kindle Fire when talking to TechRadar, which Amazon was rumored to be making a loss on when it was announced mid 2011. Amazon has since said it's the company's most requested device.
Sources speaking to The Next Web claimed Surface RT will retail for $599, while the Pro version will retail for $999.
There's also the question over how much the battery will cost - 31.4Wh for Surface RT, and 42Wh for Surface Pro. Apple iPad uses a 42.5Wh battery that Apple claims lasts for 10 hours, while RT's battery is 25 percent less and therefore puts the usage at around 7.5 hours. However, Apple's new iPad uses the power-hungry Retina display so a lower resolutions from Microsoft could mean longer battery life. iFixit's CEO said as much, claiming "It's a whole system" when talking about saving power. The optimization of the operating system will also have an impact on battery life.
So a price is still unknown, and the "competitive" line Microsoft mentioned certainly seems to put the RT Surface at around $499/$599 and the RT Surface around $300 more. The 11.6-inch MacBook Air, similar in form factor and specs aside from the bigger screen, costs $999.
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