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Microsoft gunning for Apple’s iPad with cheap Surface tablet

by Justin Herrick | May 16, 2018May 16, 2018 7:00 am PST

Microsoft is taking aim at Apple and the iPad with a new tablet set to be released later this year, according to Bloomberg.

The report suggests there are “lower-cost Surface tablets” in development. While there will be several variants of the same tablet, Microsoft will promote just one model that’s less expensive than its flagship hybrid. The Redmond-based company wants to cut into Apple’s sales that have been booming for years. Starting at around $400, the new Surface tablet could do just that.

In order to bring its price down, the new Surface tablet will reportedly ship with tweaks. It’ll have a 10-inch display, which is smaller than the 12-inch display found on the Surface Pro (2017). Microsoft is also set to round the edges. Overall, the tablet should be 20% lighter than its bigger sibling.

Both charging and data transfers will be merged into a USB-C port. As of now, there isn’t a single Surface device featuring that form of connectivity. So this would be a first for Microsoft.

However, battery life should be reduced. The report says this tablet will run four hours fewer on a single charge. Microsoft is forced to make such a concession to get the Surface smaller and cheaper. It’ll still call on Intel to supply the processor and graphics unit, likely integrating the latter into a power-efficient chip.

Microsoft won’t bundle a keyboard with the tablet, and that’s standard. The company’s always resisted including a much-needed accessory with its hybrids. The base model should have 64GB of storage, but you can pay extra for 128GB. An LTE-ready model, too, will be available.

No matter the model you choose, you’ll get a Surface-style kickstand in addition to Windows 10 Pro.

It wouldn’t be the first time Microsoft introduced small, low-cost hardware. When the Surface brand was created alongside Windows 8, the Surface RT emerged as the iPad’s first real competitor. But the hardware and software didn’t quite compare. Microsoft then raised the price of the Surface Pro to be more premium, and the company found itself capable of selling a hybrid with decent success.

Over the years, the Surface Book and the Surface Laptop, as well as a desktop, joined the family.

The company did try releasing an affordable hybrid after its initial failure, though. Microsoft’s Surface 3, which was released in 2015, hit the market at $500. Production ended a year later as consumers didn’t have much interest.

Microsoft could make an announcement this summer, just before students head back to school. Laptop and tablet sales spike in the second half of the year since college and high school students are picking up new devices. The company also hinted at the possibility of new Surface devices arriving sooner rather than later a few weeks ago.

Don’t rule out Microsoft revamping its lineup as early as June, but it’s more likely the company makes a grand reveal around August or September.

Microsoft

Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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