Microsoft is now taking pre-orders for the Surface RT tablet. Prices start at $499 for a model with 32GB of storage. You can pay extra for a keyboard cover or extra storage space.
The tablets will officially hit the streets on October 26th.
The Microsoft Surface RT features a 10.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display, a 1.4 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and up to 64GB of storage.
Tablets include front and rear cameras which can shoot 720p HD video, 2 mics, a mini HDMI port, microSDXC card slot, and a USB 2.0 port. You also get 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and a range of sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and ambient light sensor.
The tablet measures 0.37 inches thick and weighs 1.5 pounds. It has a 31.5 Whr battery.
One of the key things setting Microsoft’s Surface tablets apart from the competition is the cover which not only protects the screen, but which also functions as a keyboard. But that cover will cost you — it’s not included in the $499 starting price.
The tablet also has a kickstand in the back so you can prop it up on a table or desk while using the keyboard.
Here’s a break-down of the Surface RT prices:
- Surface RT with 32GB – $499
- Surface RT with 32GB and black Touch Cover – $599
- Surface RT with 64GB and black Touch Cover – $699
- Touch Cover (in black, white, ping, red, or blue) – $120
- Type Cover (black) – $130
The tablet runs Windows RT, which looks virtually identical to Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. The difference is that Windows RT is designed to run on devices with low power ARM-based processors (and it also comes with a pre-release version of Office 2013).
As a Windows RT tablet, the Surface RT will be able to run apps from the Windows Store — but it won’t be able to run older apps designed for computers with x86 chips. So if you have favorite Windows 7 or Windows XP apps that you want to run, you’d better hope the developers have updated them to work with Windows RT.
The $499 starting price puts the Surface in direct competition with Apple’s iPad, which also starts at $499.
For the same price, Microsoft’s tablet has 32GB of storage (rather than 16G), 2GB of RAM (rather than 1GB), USB and HDMI ports, and a memory card slot.
But Apple’s tablet has a higher resolution display and a heck of a lot more momentum. While you arguably get more tablet for the money with the Surface RT, I think a lot of people were hoping Microsoft would take a cure from the Amazon Kindle Fire or Google Nexus 7 and offer a tablet that costs significantly less than an entry-level iPad.
Microsoft also plans to launch a Surface Pro tablet soon, featuring an Intel Core i5 processor and full Windows 8 operating system. The company hasn’t yet said how much that model will cost.