Surface pricing: $499 for 32GB

Microsoft logoAfter maintaining almost complete radio silence about its Windows RT Surface tablets since first revealing them in June, Microsoft has announced pricing and availability.

The cheapest way to buy into Surface will be the $499 base model. This will give you 32GB of storage, but won't come with a Touch Cover membrane keyboard-cum-cover. $599 will get you a 32GB model with a black Touch Cover, and $699 a 64GB unit, also with a black Touch Cover.

Standalone Touch Covers in black, white, magenta, cyan, and red will retail for $119.99. Type Covers—a clicky keyboard with actual key switches—will come in black only, and cost $129.99.

Redmond maintains that specs aren't really the point of a device like Surface, and that what matters is the overall user experience. Nonetheless, the specs have been published too: it has a 1366x768 10.6-inch screen with five-point multitouch, it's 0.37 inches (9.4mm) thick, and it weighs 1.5 pounds (0.68kg). The processor is an NVIDIA Tegra 3 T30, which is a quad-core 1.4GHz Cortex A9 part coupled with a 520MHz NVIDIA GPU, and it has 2GB RAM, and either 32 or 64 gigabytes of flash storage. Surface also has two 720p cameras (front and rear), two microphones, an ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a compass. Connectivity is provided with 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4, a microSDXC slot, mini-HDMI, and a USB 2.0 port.

Microsoft Surface. Pic. 2

The Surface will run Windows RT. As is the case with all Windows RT devices, it includes previews of four Office 2013 apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. With the recent RTM of Office 2013, buyers can expect to see these previews updated to final versions starting in November.

Surface preorders open today, at 9am Pacific, with delivery on October 26th, the same day as Windows 8's general availability.

Initially, Surface will be available in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Microsoft Surface

In the US, Surface will be available exclusively through Microsoft's own channels: its brick-and-mortar stores and its online store. To supplement its permanent storefronts, the company is opening 34 "pop up" stores for the holiday season to help promote the Surface tablet. These stores will open on October 26th.

By starting at $499, Microsoft is undercutting the other Windows RT devices that have been announced, such as the $599 Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx, and the $599 Asus Vivo Tab RT. Those other tablets typically have more expensive keyboards, too (although arguably more capable keyboards, as they often include batteries or additional ports), so even at $599, the Surface is giving you more for less.

The pricing is also competitive with the iPad; Apple's "new" iPad starts at $499 for a 16GB model, though the 16GB iPad 2 is still available for $399.

The $499 unit is, however, something of an odd duck. Microsoft's previous publicity material said that Surface would include a keyboard, which the cheapest model obviously doesn't. Microsoft's new Surface ad campaign also implores buyers to "Click In"—which the $499 unit can't do. Without the keyboard, they have nothing to click in.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Microsoft, Surface, tablets

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