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.

There will actually be two different types of covers. The Touch Cover has a touch-sensitive keyboard, while the Type Cover has physical keys that you actually press down on.

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.

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37 replies on “Microsoft Surface RT tablet up for pre-order for $499 and up”

  1. I can only imagine what the Xbox Live Arcade games would look like on this thing, especially since it has Nvidia Tegra 3. Maybe even a portable Forza, Fable, or Gears. I like this tablet and WindowsRT/8. I need to save up to buy the most high end version. Then cue the massive amounts of games I know are going to be developed for this.

  2. Damn, I want Surface with Clover Trail, not some toy platform or hot & heavy & short battery & noisy iCore…. Looking forward to Acer Iconia W510

  3. I pre-ordered it. This is the first time that I pre-ordered any hardware without seeing it. I’m wary about the RT only apps and $599 isn’t pocket change, but I really want someone to give the iPad some competition so that there is more competition in the tablet space. I was also an early adopter of Android tablets (Xoom).

    I think the real power of Windows 8 will come with the full Windows 8 tablets like the Surface Pro. Unless more RT apps come out I don’t see the Surface RT as a productivity tablet. It’s exactly like the iPad and Android tablets… a toy. In fact I think iPad and Android tablets have much more productivity potential than the Surface RT at this point.

    1. Depends, with RT you can just print to any printer like you would on most PC’s. Many times the system will auto install the printer if it detects it on your network when you first set up the system.

      For Android or iOS you need special apps to print and they are usually brand specific.

      The version of Office may be more basic but it’s still something the desktop users would be familiar with and regular people like Students use office and would find that a good inclusion.

      Multi-tasking is also more limited on iOS and Android. So while the RT multi-tasking may seem limited in comparison to the traditional desktop but being able to snap and use two apps side by side still gives it a good edge over the mobile competition and the desktop mode is still useful for Office, MS Paint, and the other things MS included.

      The apps are also likely to rapidly grow, mind that the ecosystem will include apps made for Windows 8. Only x86 specific apps won’t be usable on RT.

      Right now, as of last week, there are over 4000 apps developed so far and the product isn’t even launched yet. Many developers haven’t even started because they’re waiting on getting their own RT device to develop with!

      The hardware support for peripherals will clearly be better than what either iOS or Android offer. You can already be sure that a USB XBox 360 controller will work. Pretty much anything USB you can be pretty sure would just work, RT is just limited to USB 2.0 and some things may require updated drivers but that should be handled pretty quick.

      So I disagree that the iPad and Android tablets have more productivity potential than the Surface at this point…

  4. attention appleheads,,there is NO ipad 3,,you are confusing people out there…its the “new’ ipad….we can only wonder what the next one will be nemed..im thinking the new ipad sv4

  5. 32GB is misleading. The OS takes up 12GB already according to Microsoft. You only have 20 free. That is only 4GB more than a 16GB iPad.

    1. 16GB iPad doesn’t give you 16GB of free space either, even iOS takes up some space and you’ll usually start with only about 13.5GB out of 16GB for free space.

      Mind also, part of the MS install includes MS Office Home and Student 2013 RT. So you’d have to factor adding a similar Office app to iOS to more properly compare free space.

      While the microSD and USB options mean you can expand storage but you can’t do that on the iPad aside from external peripherals.

      1. Space is relative as it really depends on how big the apps are going to be. If Surface apps are as big as normal Windows apps then there’s going to be a problem.

        1. No worries there, Surface apps will be pretty small. Maybe not as small as mobile Apps but still pretty small.

  6. For most consumers, their PC productivity comes primarily from the use of Microsoft Office Suite. If the build quality is there, consumers will see the value in Surface Tablets. Now that many tech bloggers and gadget reviewers are brave enough to acknowledge the lack of productivity offered by the use of iPads, these RT tablets might have room to stand out.

    1. Why would anyone buy a RT tablet when, for the same price or a $100 more, you can buy a CloverTrail one which can run ANY Legacy app??
      Seriously, can’t undrstand why.

      1. I’d usually argue the opposite point but $100 more is still $100 more, even differences as small as $50 can justify getting one device over another if there aren’t really that significant differences for a given desired usage.

        The problem with Clover Trail is it’s still based on the same ATOM architecture as Intel has been offering since they first introduced the ATOM about 5 years ago.

        Performance has improved a bit, going dual core and higher clock speed, along with a GMA over 2x better than previous ATOM GMAs, but we’re still talking about netbook range performance in a device priced near Ultrabook pricing.

        Part of that is justified as tablets will cost more than equivalent laptop, even premium Ultrabooks, but the comparison is to ARM based tablets which are now starting to offer similar performance range as what the ATOM offers.

        So even though Clover Trail adds legacy support, it’s not that big of a difference as the higher end Pro tablets will be offering.

        Mind that ARM tablet makers have to possibly deal with the same or slightly higher cost for the RT version because it includes Office.

        The MS Office Home and Student edition can easily add $99 by itself. So even if there was a saving for a more basic version of Windows with RT vs 8, it’s countered by including Office and MS is likely charing them either the same or slightly more for the RT version.

        So it’s little wonder that the RT and W8 tablets may be coming to similar pricing, but the differences are both for and against each version. Since those who put a value to having Office will have to purchase it separately with the Windows 8 tablets but have it included with RT.

        While the features it’s missing in RT mainly only effect pro users and those are more likely to go for the Pro models anyway instead of the low end.

        So those looking for more basic usage and primarily consumption and lowest pricing may still consider the ARM version.

        Especially if they offer dual boot, which at least one firmware making company is suggesting they can offer if any system makers want them to and suggest RT devices may not be as limited as they may first seem.

        While Clover Trail devices have the added issue that the PowerVR based GMA are harder to support and one of the reasons why you won’t see them running anything but Windows 8.

        It won’t be till next year when the 22nm update comes to the ATOM that we’ll see full linux support and better performance needed to leverage the legacy support to its advantage.

        Hopefully, by then, the pricing should be better for all devices…

      2. It is beyond me too. Come on, mobile operating systems are toys and RT is no different. Huh, just try to, for example, open a pdf or doc from Evernote, edit it, save it and check it the changes get synced.

  7. “The $499 starting price puts the Surface in direct competition with Apple’s iPad, which also starts at $499.”

    Apple’s iPad line starts at $399.

    1. Not for the iPad 3!

      The iPad 2 is the older model and so is a depreciated price, along with the lower specs of only dual GPU SGX543MP2 vs quad GPU SGX543MP4 in the iPad 3, a little less RAM (768MB vs 512MB), and a lower 1024×768 screen resolution.

      So don’t confuse the pricing of new products with old!

      1. Apple does not sell or market a product called the iPad 3.

        If somebody wants an iPad, they can walk in to an Apple store and walk out with one for $399.00. Not a used iPad, a new one. That’s $100.00 lower than ordering a Surface costs now. That is a significant amount of money.

        You can talk about specifications all you want but the most important question is, will someone who buys an iPad for $400.00 be disappointed with it? Having used one, I’d say that is unlikely. Will people be happy or disappointed with the new Surface tablet at $100.00 more? Will they be $100.00 more happy? Time will tell; nobody knows right now.

        1. Don’t be obtuse, you know very well what is meant by the iPad 3. Besides, they definitely call the $399 model the iPad 2!

          Never mind even pretending these products are really directly equivalent!’

          “the most important question is, will someone who buys an iPad for $400.00 be disappointed with it?”

          If they want to be productive and want something that could replace their old netbook or basic laptop then yes!

          The iPad is primarily just a consumption orientated device. When it first came out you couldn’t even set it up without a PC/Mac with iTunes.

          The only thing I’ll agree with you is nobody knows how it’ll go exactly right now but it’s hardly unreasonable to expect it to do better than you’ve been suggesting.

          Apple hasn’t really done much to innovate their products the last few years. The iOS experience is mostly the same and has yet to really provide a truly tablet optimized experience. Yet alone offer anything to make anyone consider it a viable alternative to say a MacBook Air with OSX.

          The iPhone 5 is clearly the best iPhone produced to date but many confessed disappointment with the lack of innovation.

          The market share has already started to erode versus Android, Apple may still dominate but not nearly as obviously as before.

          So let’s not assume Apple’s position is as strong now or whether something that offers things that neither Android or iOS offers can’t make it until it’s actually given a chance to fail or succeed.

  8. Just preordered it. It has a 8 hour battery life, is just as fast and smooth as the iPad, and has almost all the features of normal Windows.

    1. “and has almost all the features of normal Windows”
      Absolutely not.
      No Windows legacy app can run on this thing.
      Office is good but it’s used by pro mostly… so, not the prime market target.
      I mean look at the teaser they released and tell me they target pros.

      1. “No Windows legacy app can run on this thing.”

        Except the desktop apps it comes pre-loaded with but Windows is more than just the apps it runs.

        Driver support, the ability to connect just about any USB device and expect it to just work, and other features we usually take for granted.

        Mind it won’t be long before we see many Modern UI apps that’ll run on both Windows 8 and RT.

        While Office isn’t used by just pro’s, lots of regular people use it for all sorts of reasons.

    2. what apps, other than office are all the people buying W8RT going to run? i really want to know.

      1. The desktop will come with many common features, MS Paint, IE 10, etc. Along with some other benefits, it’s more a more basic desktop but still a useful desktop.

        While the main emphasis for RT will be running Modern UI apps, which will also be compatible with Windows 8. So there will be apps being developed that will run on both devices.

        There are already over 4000 apps, not all may appear in any one country but after launch the number of apps being developed should rapidly increase and so far about 90% of the ones presently available will work for both Windows 8 and RT.

        The Unreal Engine 3 has already been ported, so many games can be ported.

        There will be a fair number of XBox Live games and other options at launch.

        Many of MS online services will be available to both RT and W8 users.

        While multi-tasking of the Modern UI may be more limited than traditional desktop, it’s also more than either Android or iOS offer.

  9. DOA. Why get this when for a little more, you can get an Intel Atom-based tablet from one of the major vendors? They are comparable in weighti size, and battery life, and run true Windows, including legacy x86 Windows apps.

    When a vendor doesn’t release price information right away, the product is most likely overpriced.

    1. Overpriced? Compared with what? Your expectations?

      As Brad says, apart from the lack of a retina display, based on the specs, the Surface priced competitively enough. Whether the price is low enough to make a dent in Apple’s sales is another question.

      MS might be hurt by the $199 rumors that have been flying around for weeks. Clearly, managing expectations is half the battle in a launch like this.

      The pricing information was likely delayed because MS wanted to make sure they weren’t going to screw the vendors who are making RT tablets as much as anything else. Apple does not have that problem.

      1. The problem is that MS can’t compete with iOS on hardware.
        If storage (& usb port) was that important, they wouldn’t buy an iPad in the first place.
        So, more storage and a usb port won’t make any difference for iPad owners.
        Apple is hype and sexy (in the Apple consumers’ mind I mean), MS is not.
        Also, the last-year-display/res/ppi and Tegra 3 and this price point will make them compete with Galaxy Note2 and Infinity which are, hardware wise, better specced.
        So, beside some MS fans, pros, and early adopters that want the last device launched (and those who will be stupid enough for thining it can run Windows legacy apps), why would anyone buy that?
        For the number of apps? I guess that’s a no.
        Maybe the OS is a bit more stable than Android, but not less boring and oversimplified than iOS.
        No, seriously, what does this RT/Tegra3 have that can make a real difference for the iPad owner and even the Android tablet owner?
        The worst thig is they are killing any hope of seeing the CloverTrail tablets/hybrides come down to more reasonable prices.
        They are glorified netbook after all (with ridiculous storage).
        Same goes for the ultrabooks.

        1. Scratch the last sentence.
          But I just think that, because of the pricing of RT tablets (wich is the bottom of the barrel in terms of productivity) at $499, we are witnessing an increase in price for ALL Windows devices.
          Like a domino reaction.

          1. This is a _good_ thing. The race to the bottom has been terrible to all players. If we as consumers want more than bottom of the barrel stuff, maybe we should be ready to pay for it. I think the consumer battle is already lost to Apple and the iPad, corps on the other hand could easily be the ticket to Microsoft in tablet land. Adding these babies to an AD without going through magic third-party hoops like you need with the iPad at least gives it a fighting chance.

          2. Except that you surely don’t pay at least $100 more than last year comparable devices (without the touchscreens) for their improved quality but for OEMs increased profits.
            You don’t have better quality products, you have higher margins’ one.
            If you take the time to calculate the difference in cost between last year devices and today’s (considering the drop in IPS display costs as well as SSDs’), you’ll realize prices went up for only 2 reasons:
            The cost of W8 license and increased margins.
            Devices are expected to improve performance every year to justify keeping the SAME prices.
            But with the arrival of W8 products, there is actually no increase in performance at all (same cpus/gpus, same SSD/HDD…), they just added a touchscreen and made their device convertibles/detachables.
            That’s it!
            They’re just trying to fool us.
            What failed miserably with tablets and partially with ultrabooks, may succeed with W8 and touchscreens devices they think…

          3. Considering most were suggesting their RT tablets would be about similar priced to Clover Trail, starting near or above the $600 mark, that MS did well getting it down to $499 and the lowest price offered for any of the announced RT tablets.

            A $100 more for Clover Trail is a pretty good price difference for otherwise similar configuration products and may get the other system makers to lower their pricing if the Surface is successful.

            Mind how much say Asus is charging for their Vivo Tab RT, also with Tegra 3, is $599 with the same base configuration as the Surface and also the nearly $200 extra they charge for their keyboard dock is both much more than MS is charging.

            Mind that some Clover Trail models are also including a WACOM active digitizer pen.

            While the choice in screen resolution might be worrisome to some but PPI isn’t the only factor in screen quality and by all indications so far the Surface screen should still be good.

            It’s mainly just a question of how well RT will stand on its own.

          4. If MS had priced its RT Tablets higher, it wouldn’t have sold one.
            With this price, they may sell 2.
            There’s no freaking reason to buy an RT Tablet instead of a CloverTrail one at the same price (see Acer W510 and Lenovo Lynx) or even $100 higher.
            The Vivo Tab price is the worst example you can find since Asus, as it demonstrated before with its Transformer Line, try to apply the same prices than Apple for a little bump in specs (HDMI, GPS, USB).
            But they don’t sell that much compared to the iPad.
            To conclude, Apple (iPads here) consummers don’t buy quality, features, better user experience or wathever. They buy the Brand/logo.
            They can justify their choice arguing of quality, apps or OS but it’s not the main reason for their purchase.
            MS (Asus, Samsung…)’s RT tablets won’t sway them.
            You’d need a real gap in usability/features for that. Which RT doesn’t offer at all…
            So, the real target should be pros, wannabe tablet owners or Android’s ones.
            And there, above all when you’re a new comer on the market, price (beside for pros) is a decisive factor. MS failed to understand that.
            Therefore, RT Tablets will fail miserably. It will never reach the 5 million units target before the end of the year.

          5. The Acer W510 has a lower build quality, many reviewers are already comparing the keyboard dock to 2008 netbooks.

            While the Surface is a high quality custom design that even has a build in kick stand.

            Those others are also larger at 11.6″, versus the surface at 10.6″ screen size.

            While the few that go 10.1″ tend to be higher priced, like the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2.

            Besides, which the Clover Trail is a SoC and Intel is trying to push it competitively with ARM. So system makers aren’t really paying much more to make a Clover Trail tablet versus a ARM tablet.

            While even RT offers things that neither iOS or Android offer. So let’s not exaggerate how they compare or overly underestimate whether these devices will do well in the long run.

          6. “To conclude, Apple (iPads here) consummers don’t buy quality, features, better user experience or wathever. They buy the Brand/logo.” Your tears are delicious.

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