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Crazy Talk: Surface RT Tablet May Cost $199

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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  • back_by_demand
    As long as they can make an XBMC app I will be happy, otherwise Surface Pro all the way baby!
  • internetlad
    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!
  • bllue
    I would buy one at that price without hesitation.
  • tapnick
    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.

  • AznCracker
    ok how about $299?
  • rohitbaran
    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.
  • wemakeourfuture
    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.
  • boogalooelectric
    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.
  • acadia11
    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!!!!
  • wildkitten
    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.