Microsoft Surface device could cost as little as US$199?

15 Aug 2012

It would be a huge boon for consumers if it was true, but we’re prepared to adopt a wait-and-see posture on this one – rumours have it that the new Surface computer by Microsoft will have a retail price tag of just US$199. Yes, 199 bucks.

While this would certainly ruffle the feathers of rivals like Google, whose Nexus 7 comes in at that price point, it would also be a bit of a kick in the teeth for Microsoft’s loyal coterie of PC manufacturers whom the software giant paraded yesterday in a blog post for the sweeping variety of form factors related to Windows 8 and Windows RT they have prepared.

According to Engadget, an “inside source” who has seen all the release data claims that the Surface will debut on 26 October at the super-low price tag.

This is at odds with earlier reports that a Swedish retailer priced Surface devices at around €825.

Most commentators have so far taken the US$199 report with a pinch of salt, or while expressing their surprise and delight at the notion of such a price point, have voiced their scepticism.

Such a price would bring computing into the hands of millions, but can’t be good news for manufacturers of various flavours of PCs who would struggle to get any kind of margin on such a price.

But what seems to have eluded commentators as far as I can see in their reactions so far is there won’t be just one flavour of Surface.

Aim for somewhere in the middle

There will principally be two flavours – an ARM-based Windows RT-based device that could conceivably be close to the lower price, and a device powered by a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro, which would probably cost in excess of €800 to buy.

I’m still tickled at the notion of a Windows 8 Pro experience on a tablet device.

Of course, the exciting developments here are the new operating system and the innovative Touch Cover. The device also boasts an aspect ratio of 16:9, the industry standard for high definition.

The one thing that sways me from the likelihood of a near-US$200 price point is the fact that the screen size of the Windows RT-based device is 10.6 inches, significantly bigger than the iPad’s screen size and monstrously larger than the 7-inch Nexus 7 from Google or the Kindle Fire.

It’s simply hard to imagine Microsoft bringing out a device with that size of a screen for a price point that rivals the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire.

Either way, we’ll have to wait and see. Below are the specs Microsoft released when it unveiled the Surface in June for the first time.

Surface for Windows RT

·        OS: Windows RT

·        Light (1): 676g

·        Thin (2): 9.3mm

·        Clear: 10.6” ClearType HD Display

·        Energised: 31.5 W-h

·        Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2 x 2 MIMO antennae

·        Productive: Office ‘15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover

·        Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand

·        Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB

Surface for Windows 8 Pro

·        OS: Windows 8 Pro

·        Light (1): 903g

·        Thin (2): 13.5mm

·        Clear: 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display

·        Energised: 42 W-h

·        Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2 x 2 MIMO antennae

·        Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block

·        Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand

·        Configurable: 64GB, 128GB

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years