Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet starts at $499

Last month, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the sweet spot for tablets was around $300-700. Looks like the Surface for Windows RT will target the middle of that range. Microsoft’s pre-order page confirms that the entry-level model will start at $499, which closely matches the price of premium tablets like the iPad 3 and the Transformer Pad Infinity. While the Surface RT and Transformer tablets offer 32GB of storage at that price point, the latest iPad serves up only 16GB.

Of course, the Apple tablet has a leg up on the display front. Its 9.7" panel boasts a 2048×1536 display resolution, which works out to a crisp 264 PPI. The 10.6" Surface RT’s has an all-too-familiar 1366×768 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of only 148 PPI. That’s also quite a bit lower than the 224-PPI Transformer Pad Infinity, which squeezes a 1920×1200 resolution out of its 10.1" panel. Microsoft’s product page doesn’t make any mention of IPS technology. However, the "ClearType HD Display" is claimed to have wide viewing angles, which should preclude a crappy TN panel.

Underneath the display, the Surface RT has an Nvidia Tegra T30 processor, 2GB of RAM, and both 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. The tablet measures 9.4 mm thick and weighs less than 1.5 lbs. A USB 2.0 port, Micro HDMI output, and microSD slot can be found on the edges of the chassis, which also has a built-in kickstand. Everything else you’d expect from a contemporary tablet is included.

The Surface RT’s Touch Cover keyboard costs extra, though. The spill-resistant Touch Cover will set you back an additional $120 when bought separately. If you want physical keys, the Type Cover rings in at $130. That keyboard is available only in black, while the Touch Cover also comes in white, red, cyan, and magenta hues. If you order the Surface RT with a black touch cover, you can save $20. There don’t appear to be any pre-order options for different color combinations, though. In fact, the Surface RT tablet seems to be available in black only.

While I never believed the Surface RT would be as inexpensive as some predicted, $499 is a steep asking price given the display resolution. The 720p front and rear cameras feel a little low-rent for this class of device, too, and I can’t point to a single must-have feature that tips the balance back in Microsoft’s favor. Even the projected battery life—8 hours of "mixed activity" and 7-15 days of standby idling—leaves something to be desired. You’ve really got to want Windows RT to order one of these things.

To be fair, Ars Technica points out that the Surface RT should cost about $100 less than Windows RT tablets already announced by Asus and Lenovo. Those devices have more robust keyboard docks that feature additional expansion ports and battery capacity. However, their screens share the same 1366×768 resolution as the Surface RT.

Comments closed
    • aim18
    • 7 years ago
    • oldog
    • 7 years ago

    I bought one last night; 32GB with a black keyboard.

    I’ll give you guys a follow up on the 26th.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      let me know how it is, you beautiful man

    • sschaem
    • 7 years ago

    Take note MS:
    I would pay $499 for a windows8 tablet, if it comes with a Z2580 and the clicky cover.
    $399 with the soft cover with a Z-60

    But even at $299 I have no interest in any ARM models.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      i’m sure balmer will write your point down.

        • Decelerate
        • 7 years ago

        … on a chair. Then do what he does to chairs ノ ゜Д゜)ノ ︵ ┻━━┻

        Note: Original ascii was found here: [url<]https://techreport.com/news/21641/windows-8-to-have-a-kinder-gentler-bsod-screen?post=580719[/url<]

      • Beelzebubba9
      • 7 years ago

      Agreed. If Surface had an Atom, real Windows 8, and came with the smart cover for ~$500 it would be a compelling option. As it stands, I see Windows RT as being DOA since it takes real Windows’ greatest strength – its software library – and shoots it in the head. Surface looks cool, but considering the massive software and ecosystem deficit relative to iOS and the fact that the hardware doesn’t seem particularly compelling against a 8+ month old iPad, I’m having a hard time seeing the point.

      Any idea why Windows 8 tablets all seem so costly? If Google and Asus can make compelling hardware for $199, why can’t MS or their partners get a well made x86 for less than three times that?

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    seems to have sold out. Now it’s shipping in 3 weeks…

    • trackerben
    • 7 years ago

    The launch ad focuses on the quality of tablet/keyboard mating and this ubiquitous theme indicates that much of Surface’s value is found in the combination. After all the keyboard is a surface too, and a traditionally efficient control input at that. Having one always available to work with Office may be its biggest advantage and may well justify Microsoft’s high prices. But the goodness of Surface won’t be determined until the keyboards have been reviewed in hands-on daily use.

    • sschaem
    • 7 years ago

    “8 hours of “mixed activity” and 7-15 days of standby idling”

    Sound like the AMD Z-60 spec….

    Weird that MS spend all that effort to build a new platform (Windows8 RT) thats not really that different from what would have gotten with an x86 SoC…

    What is MS gaining by fragmenting their platform this way?

    And its not like they went with a small battery. The Surface Is heavier than the ipad

    • Metonymy
    • 7 years ago

    Is it just me, or does that keyboard scream quality.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Is it just me, or does that keyboard scream quality.[/quote<] If it does that I'm not buying one, I like it when my keyboard makes nice clicky sounds instead of screaming.

      • Rand
      • 7 years ago

      Not me, a perfectly flat keyboard with no physical keys is the antitheses of comfort and quality.
      No doubt it looks impressive, and is easy to carry and saves space… but I’ll sacrifice a bit of both for something that’s very comfortable for long periods of typing and isn’t going to slow my typing down.

    • Xenolith
    • 7 years ago

    So why did we report on those earlier price rumors…especially when we knew they were wrong?

    • RhysAndrews
    • 7 years ago

    I’m interested in the build quality and overall feel of this tablet. So will reserve my opinion on the pricing until then.

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    [url<]http://www.neowin.net/news/microsoft-explains-why-they-chose-1366768-resolution-for-the-surface-rt[/url<] i don't know much about this stuff. is this realistic, or BS? this surprises me: [url<]http://www.zdnet.com/how-are-techies-reacting-to-a-499-microsoft-surface-7000005876/[/url<]

      • yogibbear
      • 7 years ago

      Anyone that does a search on key words in twitter feeds and considers that getting people’s opinion and lumping them into stats and calling that an article is a TWIT. Especially when they ignore the significant neutral band of ‘don’t care’ crowd.

      The “negative” responses sounds more positive than the positive ones when you actually read them:

      Negative: “it’s a badass device” – (Negative because they found the word ‘bad’)

      Positive: “it broke during the demo lol #microsoftfail” – No idea why this was considered ‘positive’

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        Please don’t ALLCAPS twit. TWIT is a pretty good podcast.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      Nobody here knows about screen readability?

        • Beelzebubba9
        • 7 years ago

        MS’s justification for the 1366×768 resolution was just a long series of excuses for Windows 8’s abysmal resolution scaling.

        I don’t see it as a dealbreaker for a 10.6″ tablet, but I also don’t see a single reason to get the Surface RT over an iPad 3 or Google Nexus 7 either.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          that’s cool that you think that, but do you know anything about their justifications? is there science behind it?

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 7 years ago

            You can spin ‘science’ to support almost any reasonable design decision (remember how Apple justified the one button mouse for decades because their usability studies PROVED it was the RIGHT WAY to do input? Yeah, that.), but there’s nothing saying you can’t have a very high contrast, low reflectivity, very high DPI display. Like the iPhone 5:

            [url<]http://www.displaymate.com/Smartphone_ShootOut_2.htm[/url<] Displaymate measured the iPhone 5's reflectivity to be the same as what MS is claiming for Surface, but at a vastly higher pixel density. From what little I understand about display tech and readability, Microsoft isn't wrong as much as missing the point - there's no technical reason why you can't have a display that does everything well and do so within the hardware budget of a premium device. Apple was the first to ship a very high resolution display in a mass market tablet, so they had to make some compromises to hit those targets and volumes. Microsoft is coming in 9 months later and will be lucky to sell 1/10 the devices Apple will, so I don't see their compromises as anything other than an excuse for Windows 8's inability to scale to high-dpi displays, unlike OS X, iOS and (I assume) Android.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            i’m sure you can spin science. i’m asking if what they’re saying is realistic or not. the displaymate link is helpful.

    • spigzone
    • 7 years ago

    I just don’t get the logic here.

    • blastdoor
    • 7 years ago

    I think this proves that Wang was getting upset over nothing. I see no evidence here that MS intends to seriously compete with its OEMs or to really become a vertically integrated company. Surface feels more and more like a glorified reference design and/or marketing ploy to gain attention for Win8 tablets in general.

    If I were a Windows OEM, I would feel confident that I have a very good chance of capturing just as big a chunk of the minuscule market for WindowsRT tablets as anybody.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      ‘Wang gets upset over something small’ – happens every day.

        • bthylafh
        • 7 years ago

        Jealousy is such an ugly thing.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 7 years ago

      That depends on whether the competition will be in the Microsoft stores as well. Maybe someone that’s been to one can chime in.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    I will be interested to see street prices, if MS is unable to enforce MAP like Apple can (even Apple products go on sale though.) That’s the wildcard which is missing from this announcement.

      • glynor
      • 7 years ago

      They’re only selling them directly through the Microsoft Stores and online.

        • sschaem
        • 7 years ago

        Nice margin.

        Also, all software is sold from their store… they collect 30% from all transactions.

        Apple was always like that… so no one was to upset.

        But MS is pissing in the wind with this release.

          • glynor
          • 7 years ago

          I think it is more about two things. Controlling how they’re positioned in-store, and controlling the news stories. If they sell well, then great, more money, less problems.

          If they don’t sell well….

          * No stories with sales specifics (if it is really bad, they can just announce “we sold X-million ‘touch-equipped’ Windows machines.”)
          * No stories about people returning them in droves because they couldn’t load Quicken leaked from Best Buy.
          * No retailers complaining about unsold inventory.
          * No retailers deeply discounting them to get them to move (even at a loss because some money is better than none).

          It gives them a lot more power to control the post-launch sales story. They can leak things like “it is exceeding our wildest dreams” without real numbers (a trick they learned from a fruit-flavored company, to be sure). And, the relatively miniscule retail footprint gives them a built-in “excuse” when the analysts do finally dredge up semi-real numbers (though don’t believe them either, they mostly make the stuff up).

          And, equally important is controlling the customer first impression and the “pitch” given at retail. They [b<]do not[/b<] want people walking into Best Buy and having some 17-year-old explaining that they don't want that thing, because it isn't even "real Windows". Again, showing them only in the best light is a page directly from Apple's playbook. Microsoft is trying to do what they've always done. See competitors. Let competitors battle for a bit. See what tactics are working. Copy the winners and use the Windows platform as a giant club. I suspect they've never played this exact game before, though. We'll see. EDIT: Fixed some typos. A preview button would be good.

            • pedro
            • 7 years ago

            +1 – Great insight.

    • link626
    • 7 years ago

    this is DOA.

    it has 16gb more memory, but that screen is only a quarter of the ipad.

    plus, for most people, windows generates as much excitement as watching cows chew grass.

      • Ricardo Dawkins
      • 7 years ago

      Surface 32GB – 499 USD
      Full Microsoft Office, USB ports, microsd card support, uHDMI for video out, file browser, flash support, mouse support, double the capacity of the same price iPad. Heck adding a 32GB microsd card for less than 30 USD and you get a 64GB Surface device for less than 600 USD.

      oh..and there are way cheaper Windows 8 options than Surface. The Iconia W510 with ATOM is the same price with the same feature set.

        • WillBach
        • 7 years ago

        It has MS Office, that’s true. But has no Domains, so it’s difficult for Enterprise IT to use, for now, so they could have called it MS Home 🙂

        Anyway, I can’t believe you list Flash support as a positive. That has negative value because 99% of Flash content is advertising. Flash is EOL by Adobe, and it wastes power. I’d rather have a corkscrew on my tablet than Flash support.

        • glynor
        • 7 years ago

        It doesn’t have HDMI out, that’s only the Surface Pro.

        The Surface RT has a proprietary “HD Video Out Port”. From [url=http://www.microsoft.com/Surface/en-US/accessories/more-accessories<]their website[/url<]: [quote<]Show off everything you’ve got on Surface on an HD-quality screen. Designed for Surface with Windows RT, proprietary HD Digital AV Adapter connects Surface to any HDMI-compatible display. Stream movies, play video games, and watch slideshows in high definition. - [1] HD Video Out also requires the HD Digital AV Adapter or VGA Adapter (each sold separately).[/quote<] It is NOT a Micro-HDMI. The [url=http://www.microsoft.com/Surface/en-US/accessories/more-accessories<]proprietary HD Digital AV Adapter is $39.99[/url<], or $0.99 more than Apple's proprietary adapter.

          • Beelzebubba9
          • 7 years ago

          Why does MS insist on copying all of Apple’s bad habits as well. 🙂

          • BabelHuber
          • 7 years ago

          LOL!

          MS is full of it. What is the advantage to a standard Micro HDMI port?

          On top of it, its only strong point is Office. Apart from this, the App Store is miniscule, the OS is totally locked down in its Wallet Garden and it is expensive.

          I’d buy an AsusTF700 instead. If you want something locked down, but with a load of Apps, buy an iPad.

          Steve Ballmer is nuts.

      • albundy
      • 7 years ago

      “plus, for most people, windows generates as much excitement as watching cows chew grass.”

      in Bill’s defense, you have to be alive to generate excitement…as did watching jobs croak in disappointment.

      • cegras
      • 7 years ago

      It’s not a ‘quarter’ of the ipad. The ipad has 4x pixel density, but it uses it to make images sharper, not display more.

        • Arag0n
        • 7 years ago

        Its not a quarter, it has a 36% higher horizontal resolution, so it’s a bit more than a third.

        • holophrastic
        • 7 years ago

        and as the tech report article from the other week purports, most of the time graphics are simply quad’ed up, so there’s absolutely zero difference in the sharpnes in those scenarios.

          • Beelzebubba9
          • 7 years ago

          As the owner if an iPad 3, I can say there is absolutely a massive difference between how text and other vector base UI elements are displayed on the retina display vs. the iPad 2s.

      • oldog
      • 7 years ago

      Um, it’s already sold out on-line. You’ll have to wait three weeks to get yours.

    • burntham77
    • 7 years ago

    My concern is that we just don’t know enough about RT. It’s an ARM version of Windows 8, without the desktop or x86 software. Ok, fine. But what does it bring? Can I use the Windows Phone 7 app library on it? I can use phone apps on my Android tablet (albeit scaled up.)

    I like the hardware, but the software isn’t give me enough reason to abandon Android. Not yet anyway.

    • leor
    • 7 years ago

    These are definitely not priced to sell.The price should be $499 WITH the keyboard cover and with that display res even that’s a stretch. MSFT doesn’t have the momentum Apple and Android do, they really needed to hit a price point where people buying a new Windows 8 computer would consider this an additional, supplemental purchase.

    The experience of using one of Apple’s devices on a Mac versus a PC is night and day in terms of integration. Even though Windows 8 is kind of lame, MSFT really has a shot to leverage the Windows brand and create some kind of unified ecosystem people will buy into, but they have to make it affordable.

    They need to take some cues from their Xbox division, market share first, hardware profits later.

      • Geistbar
      • 7 years ago

      I expect the price is more a factor of not angering OEMs than seeking profit per unit. They needed to price it mostly low enough that it wasn’t an unattainable goal for the OEMs to outdo them with either a cheaper device or a better device at the same price point, but still be able to force them to not make garbage.

      That’s just my guess though, and I don’t know that I’d called it a sound approach.

        • leor
        • 7 years ago

        That’s a good point, MSFT is copying Apple so hard I keep forgetting they’re letting other companies build Windows 8 tablets 😉

      • spigzone
      • 7 years ago

      Windows 8 isn’t lame on a tablet, that’s what it was deisgned for and those prices for a Windows 8 Surface would be awesome,. gut this isn’t Windows 8, it’s Windows RT and at those prices WIndows RT is going to be a clusterf*ck.

      • StashTheVampede
      • 7 years ago

      It’s a double edged sword.

      Price it *lower* than the iPad and you’re basically admitting defeat to what your product can’t possibly compare to. From several points, the Surface really isn’t anything close to an iPad competitor, but you don’t want to do that with a launch product when you’re trying to create a brand and brand awareness. Microsoft is a huge company and they could easily bring the price down on these, but that’ll piss off enough OEMs to the point where Microsoft is the only game in town making Windows 8 tablets. If Microsoft’s strategy is to be the sole Windows 8 tablet provider, then squeezing out everyone would be the way to go.

      Price it the *same* or *higher* (Xoom, lol) than the iPad and now you’re going toe to toe with the king of the market. This also bites you in the ass because now your product will quickly be picked apart on features, spec, apps and all ancillary items that you do or don’t have.

      Microsoft wants the the latest tables to compete against Apple — they must price them in a similar manner or people will continue to think Microsoft is pushing out cheap knock offs.

        • Voldenuit
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Microsoft wants the the latest tables to compete against Apple -- they must price them in a similar manner or people will continue to think Microsoft is pushing out cheap knock offs.[/quote<] I call BS. Pure, unadulterated BS. If MS doesn't want to produce a cheap knockoff product, they shouldn't have stuck netbook-grade displays on them. Especially not when there are 1080p Android tablets at $200-300.

          • StashTheVampede
          • 7 years ago

          I wasn’t talking about the actual hardware in the tablets (clearly inferior to many others on the market). I was referring to their pricing strategy of making as close to the iPad.

          100% agreed on the hardware front about Microsoft making a terrible product. Horrid screens that should be lambasted by reviewers, poor quality cameras, etc. They’re shipping a tablet with inferior internals, but are making users buy the *awesome* cover for stiff price. The pricing they listed should have come with that sweet cover/keyboard combo vs. making it additional!

          Surface won’t be DOA, but it will leave them firmly in third place — well behind whomever is #2 with Android based tablets.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 7 years ago

      “They need to take some cues from their Xbox division, market share first, hardware profits later.”

      I’m not sure they can afford to alienate their other partners especially when the OS tax, particularly on RT, is so high. It really places this product in a precarious position as a result.

      Looks like I shoulda read Geistbar’s post first.

    • superjawes
    • 7 years ago

    Coming soon: lawsuit from Apple alleging infringement of pricing patents.

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    Annnndddddd….nope.

    At $300-$400 I would have bought one just for Office and proper Exchange email integration, given how fragmented both of those app options are in the Android and other non-Windows space, and given my TouchPad to my dad.

    At $500 + $120 for the keyboard accessory, my wallet activates various defense mechanisms.

      • dashbarron
      • 7 years ago

      Indeed. A mandatory $500 cost for both the tablet and keyboard in any color would at least be justifiable, if not a $400 tag for the tablet only (at maximum).

      Not the way to siphon money M$. Get them in cheap now and gouge them three years later.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        Oh, you mean you want Windows 9 that fixes the stuff you didn’t like in 8? $$$ please.

    • drfish
    • 7 years ago

    Meh. Surface is all about the Pro version for me anyway. Wonder what it will cost…

      • PixelArmy
      • 7 years ago

      Was about to ask the same thing…

      I’m guessing $900 for a 64 GB model w/ keyboard, hopefully the “type” version (and throw in a stylus, why not?)

        • tootercomputer
        • 7 years ago

        I agree, at least that much. That is the one I’m waiting for as well, with the i5 processor and USB 3.0.

      • StuG
      • 7 years ago

      This this this!!!

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    you guys should try to post this kind of big news quicker. we’ve been talking about it for hours already! <3

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 7 years ago

      With your wife’s horses?

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        I AM THE HORSELESS MAN! WIFE SOLD THEM!!!!

          • WillBach
          • 7 years ago

          Oh seriously? That’s rough.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          Too bad for her, now she has nothing fun to ride.

            • 5150
            • 7 years ago

            For SSK: [url<]http://www.ameriburn.org/verification_verifiedcenters.php[/url<]

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            well played, sir, well played.

      • PixelArmy
      • 7 years ago

      TR’s always late on news… probably so they can editorialize a bit before posting.

        • WillBach
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah. Having read the TR for so long, I also suspect they fact check and proofread, too. Scott was tweeting about it, you can see what he said in the “Staff Tweets section”.

      • Ricardo Dawkins
      • 7 years ago

      Come on….I already don’t know why they are late on the Apple invitations for the event on the 23rd.

    • Geistbar
    • 7 years ago

    That cover has a rather high price. It must be made out of one of Microsoft’s favorite materials: high margin accessories.

    • pedro
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the sweet spot for tablets was around $300-700.[/quote<] Any word on the $300 ones?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Wait for street pricing on tablets from other vendors.

      • Anarchist
      • 7 years ago

      actually, these are the $300 ones. The $499 is to rip off the most gullible and as sales falter exponentially the price will adjust accordingly.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        Maybe there will be a $99 blowout sale, then a year or so later MS comes back to supporting their touch devices? 🙂

      • ew
      • 7 years ago

      It’s being air lifted in by a fleet of trained pigs at this very moment!

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