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Crazy Talk: Surface RT Tablet May Cost $199

By - Source: Engadget | B 44 comments

There's a rumor that Microsoft may offer its Surface RT tablet starting at $199 USD. That's just crazy... or is it a brilliant move?

An unnamed source is stating that a session held at Microsoft's recent TechReady 15 conference laid out all the launch details for Windows 8, including the company's plans for its Surface tablets. According to the source, Microsoft plans to launch the ARM-based Surface RT tablet on October 26 starting at a meager $199 USD.

Is this price point even possible? The specs indicate otherwise unless Microsoft plans to take a huge hit in the wallet for each unit. The gadget will supposedly come packed with a Tegra-based SoC, a 10.6-inch ClearType HD capacitive touch panel, a microSD card slot, a USB 2.0 port, microHD video, and Office Home & Student 2013 RT not to mention Windows RT itself. Storage capacities will be 32 GB and 64 GB.

On Friday Acer chairman JT Wang, who has been extremely vocal about Microsoft's plans to produce the two Surface tablets, acknowledged that Microsoft is currently evaluating pricing that would minimize the negative impact on Windows 8 partners trying to sell their own tablets. But Wang also warned the Redmond company not to price its gadgets at the $199 level, as it would have a significant, negative impact on partners. Instead, the Surface tablets should retail for $499 to $599.

So far Surface pricing is a big mystery. "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," Microsoft previously stated. That statement doesn't reveal anything other than expect tablets to range in the iPad and Ultrabook region, not the Kindle Fire price range.

Indeed, the Surface RT specs do not indicate a $199 pricepoint. Just look at the just-launched Nexus 7 which sports a 7-inch 1280 x 800 HD IPS display (216 ppi), a quad-core Tegra 3 SoC, no microSD, no USB 2.0, no video output, and no office suite pre-installed. The 8 GB model is $199 whereas the 16 GB model is $249. Microsoft offering a 10.6-inch tablet for $199 seems out of the question.

Of course, Microsoft could take the initial hit in the wallet and make up the difference in sales of the keyboard cover, media and apps. The big deal here is that this media will likely be accessible on multiple devices including desktops, Windows Phone and the Xbox consoles. We may get a better understanding of what's going on when Microsoft introduces the first Windows 8 Product Upgrade right after the launch this October.

However one thing to keep in mind is Microsoft's relentless determination in conquering the tablet market. The company has set its sights on Apple primarily, and offering an ARM-based 10-inch Windows tablet would kick Apple right where it really hurts: in the bushel.

 

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  • 14 Hide
    bllue , August 15, 2012 4:03 PM
    I would buy one at that price without hesitation.
  • 12 Hide
    internetlad , August 15, 2012 4:02 PM
    seems like a tantilizing idea, but it's probably BS.

    I don't even care for tablets and I'd spring for one at that price point just to check it out!
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , August 15, 2012 4:01 PM
    As long as they can make an XBMC app I will be happy, otherwise Surface Pro all the way baby!
  • 12 Hide
    internetlad , August 15, 2012 4:02 PM
    seems like a tantilizing idea, but it's probably BS.

    I don't even care for tablets and I'd spring for one at that price point just to check it out!
  • 14 Hide
    bllue , August 15, 2012 4:03 PM
    I would buy one at that price without hesitation.
  • 7 Hide
    tapnick , August 15, 2012 4:06 PM
    I'm excited to see how this introduction to the market steps up the competition.

    I am currently an Android(tablet & phone) user but I like the idea of a windows based system because so much of my work is run off of windows platform so being able to have that same type of access in a tablet (especially full versions of Office) would make a huge impact on my productivity.

  • 4 Hide
    AznCracker , August 15, 2012 4:07 PM
    ok how about $299?
  • 3 Hide
    rohitbaran , August 15, 2012 4:08 PM
    Well, as Acer boss said, Microsoft shouldn't price it so low that it undercuts its own partners. It will be a boon for the customers in the short run, but if the partners are gone because of undercutting, Microsoft will have a monopoly in Windows 8 tablets.
  • 8 Hide
    wemakeourfuture , August 15, 2012 4:08 PM
    Selling it at $499 or $599 will see it flop.

    Selling it at $199 is a great move since it will push units, get Devs to want to make applications for a device that is being used by millions. Microsoft can afford to take a hit, just like they did with the original XBOX. Even $299 would be great, has to be half the price of a iPad at least.
  • 0 Hide
    boogalooelectric , August 15, 2012 4:10 PM
    If they want to compete with the Nexus 7 tablet then yes they need to price it at $199 or at most $249. Otherwise it is doomed to fail. In my opinion.
  • 8 Hide
    acadia11 , August 15, 2012 4:11 PM
    199 I'm buying that thing like yesterday. $299 is great price too ... I mean considering the IPAD goes for $500-$800, I can't see how this thing shouldn't retail for more than $199 and it can play flash!!!!
  • 2 Hide
    wildkitten , August 15, 2012 4:12 PM
    If they sell this for $199, and if app support seems to be there, I will buy one.

    The one major mistake Google made with the Nexus 7 was not having a microSD slot. It seems every tablet has one major feature missing. If it has a good SoC, RAM, etc, it doesn't have an SD slot, but if it has an SD slot, usually the SoC and/or RAM is lacking.

    Let's just hope MS doesn't release a tablet with very good hardware all around but lacking software support. If this pricing is true, Microsoft could very well make a huge dent in the market by taking a loss on the hardware and making it up with software sales IF they encourage excellent app development.
  • -4 Hide
    acadia11 , August 15, 2012 4:13 PM
    I find even my ipad is too large.
  • 0 Hide
    acadia11 , August 15, 2012 4:14 PM
    rohitbaranWell, as Acer boss said, Microsoft shouldn't price it so low that it undercuts its own partners. It will be a boon for the customers in the short run, but if the partners are gone because of undercutting, Microsoft will have a monopoly in Windows 8 tablets.


    And how many apple partners are there? Personally, MS partners on this front sux, just like the MS Partners sux on phones, the truth be told if MS has the money and research to throw at making a gorgeous and compelling product, i'm more than happy with that. Partners had every right to do right by MS, and keep putting out isht products.
  • 0 Hide
    acadia11 , August 15, 2012 4:15 PM
    Only thing I'd like is a smaller screen, more portable etc ... 10.6" is too large.
  • 1 Hide
    syrious1 , August 15, 2012 4:21 PM
    I'll pick up the pro when they release, $499 would be killer savings compared to any tablet pricing.
  • -2 Hide
    wildkitten , August 15, 2012 4:23 PM
    rohitbaranWell, as Acer boss said, Microsoft shouldn't price it so low that it undercuts its own partners. It will be a boon for the customers in the short run, but if the partners are gone because of undercutting, Microsoft will have a monopoly in Windows 8 tablets.

    How can it undercut partners? I thought MS's hardware partners for PC were upset at MS for making the Surface in house rather than using them?

    Perhaps this is why MS is making the Surface in house rather than making a deal with their usual PC partners to make the tablets, because they want to sell the hardware at a loss.
  • 0 Hide
    house70 , August 15, 2012 4:27 PM
    wildkittenIf they sell this for $199, and if app support seems to be there, I will buy one.The one major mistake Google made with the Nexus 7 was not having a microSD slot. It seems every tablet has one major feature missing. If it has a good SoC, RAM, etc, it doesn't have an SD slot, but if it has an SD slot, usually the SoC and/or RAM is lacking.Let's just hope MS doesn't release a tablet with very good hardware all around but lacking software support. If this pricing is true, Microsoft could very well make a huge dent in the market by taking a loss on the hardware and making it up with software sales IF they encourage excellent app development.


    Even like that, Nexus 7 can not be kept in stock long enough in stores. I agree the lack of SD support is a big problem, but only for some users, while others get it for what is intended: media consumption and past-time.

    Software support is not something MS will get instantly, but if the tablet is spec-ed and priced right, it will come in no time. Besides, it is always easier to fix software shortcomings than lack of hardware. Once this starts to sell, we will have apps coming out in no time, IMO.
  • 2 Hide
    marcolorenzo , August 15, 2012 4:31 PM
    I wouldn't say it's too far fetched. $199 is probably too cheap but still, I can imagine that MS would allow themselves to lose a lot of money on each device and then try and make it back through software and peripherals. Releasing a product like this is a long term investment. It was their strategy for the original Xbox and that surely paid off. Not many companies could've pulled that off but when you have pockets like MS, it isn't impossible,
  • 1 Hide
    phatboe , August 15, 2012 4:34 PM
    wildkittenHow can it undercut partners? I thought MS's hardware partners for PC were upset at MS for making the Surface in house rather than using them?Perhaps this is why MS is making the Surface in house rather than making a deal with their usual PC partners to make the tablets, because they want to sell the hardware at a loss.

    Why would partners ever want to sell hardware at a loss? It's does not make sense for them to do that. MS has good reason to sell at a loss; Push the new Windows 8 RT OS, garner interest in the entire Windows 8 ecosystem, motivate developers to make WinRT apps, boost MS Marketplace. MS will recoup any hardware losses in the long run, hardware partners will not if they sell at a loss.
  • 1 Hide
    edogawa , August 15, 2012 4:47 PM
    199$, hell yeah! I would buy one the second they are available! They would probably make up for their losses with the windows 8 built in store applications on sake and surface accessories.

    An actual Windows OS on the surface(which is the only tablet I've ever been impressed by) for that price? Hell Yeah! Sounds to good to be true though, anything higher than 250-300 and it's a flop.
  • 0 Hide
    chomlee , August 15, 2012 4:47 PM
    I think they need to sell these things at cost in order to get into the marketplace and gain a foothold. $199-$250 seems to be the pricepoint shown by Google Nexus. Look at what happened to the HP touchpad during the firesale. It became the most sold tablet in 2011 next to Ipad thanks to the low price.

    Microsoft initially loses money on consoles, why shouldn't they do the same with tablets, especially when they are competing with a market that is already saturated with Ipads and Anrdoid tablets. They need to figure that they will be making money on the app sales/media sales.
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