Microsoft is planning to introduce cheaper versions of its Surface tablets in the second half of 2018. The Redmond-based software major is looking to take a shot at the demand for cheaper devices mainly led by Apple and its low-cost iPad. This is not the first time, Microsoft is trying its hand in the low-cost tablet market.
Back in 2012, Microsoft started its consumer-oriented hardware push with the launch of original Surface RT. The tablet was priced at $499 but it was too early for the market and failed to resonate with both consumers and technology enthusiasts. Now that its premium Surface Pro has found a following with both consumers and professionals, Microsoft is planning to re-enter the low-cost tablet market.
According to Bloomberg, the new tablet with Surface branding will feature 10-inch displays, around the same size as that of regular iPad. The tablet will be smaller than that of the 12-inch screen on the Surface Pro lineup and will be priced at $400. In terms of design, the tablet is said to feature rounded edges like an iPad as opposed to squared off corners of the premium Surface Pro lineup.
These cheaper tablets are also said to support USB Type-C port, which will be a first for Surface device, and use the port for both charging and data transfer with other smart electronic devices. It is also expected to be lighter than the Surface Pro variant and will offer battery life that will be four hours fewer. Microsoft rates the Surface Pro to last 13.5 hours on a single charge.
For the cheaper Surface model, Microsoft will be sticking with Intel for supply of processor and the tablet will use onboard graphics. The report notes that Microsoft has not yet finalized its plans but plans to price the device at $400. Like the Surface Pro, Microsoft does not plan to bundle the keyboard cover with the low-cost tablet. It is also covering less-expensive versions of its keyboard cover, stylus and mouse to go along with the tablet.
In terms of models, Microsoft is said to be planning multiple models with versions supporting 64GB and 128GB of storage. The tablets are also said to support cellular connectivity with faster LTE modem. It will retain the DNA of a Surface product with a kickstand for flexible typing, tablet experience while watching videos and run Windows 10 Pro.
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Apple is the only major name in the low-cost tablet category and it launched a new model of iPad priced at $329 for the education market. With cheaper Surface tablets, Microsoft wants to target the same audience and aims to attract school that buy less-expensive electronic devices. Apple, Microsoft and Google with its Chrome OS devices are all trying to capture the enormous market for budget devices. While Microsoft may have failed with Surface RT in 2012, it seems to have a better prospect of winning this time around since its Surface brand itself has become familiar among consumers.