By: Tatiana G. King
Microsoft has finally announced the retail price of the full Windows 8 version of its Surface tablet. The entry level Surface Pro has the full Windows 8 environment (as opposed to the RT version that only runs apps bought in the M$ store), a type cover, 64GB of storage space, an i5 Processor, 10.6″ touch screen with (allegedly) 7 hours battery life seems decent on paper.
While Surface makes a mighty attempt to blur the line between laptop and tablet, I do not believe it has achieved that hybrid factor successfully. While I love specs and prefer devices that don’t skimp on them, I absolutely cannot justify the Surface pricing along with the specs. I also cannot justify that the keyboard costs an additional $100+ if you opt to get the entry level RT version of the tablet (which, by the way starts at $499 for 32GB). In what way is that competition to Apple? Hell–in what way is that competition to anyone? Isn’t that the very point of bringing a product to market? Before I start sounding like a certain NYTimes writer, it is of great importance to mention that at a $899 price point–you could get an awesome, super thin laptop. The very idea that I’m even bringing up a laptop as an alternative should raise some red flags for Microsoft.
The crux of the matter seems to be that the Surface is neither super portable nor cheap–the very reasons as to how tablets became popular. Whats also interesting is that MS uses this as a talking/marketing point to sell the device. You cannot (comfortably) place the Surface on your lap with the keyboard and type away–you need a desk or flat surface. And you’re not exactly going to be holding up the 16:9 aspect ratio screen for more than a few minutes to do something like read a book or watch a movie–its just relatively awkward.
(iPad 4 vs. Surface RT, Source: Phone Arena)
And for the record even attempting to do some heavy reading (I’m talking novel here) on ANY tablet with a glass screen is fairly stupid, yet millions do it (I see you iPad photographers…). My point is, what good is a device that tries to blend two uses into one, yet does neither exceptionally well for the price?
If I sound a bit salty about the entire matter–it’s because I am. I had been looking forward to the Surface Pro for some time now and I had been hoping with great futility that it wouldn’t cost this much. Honestly, the MS team, Mr. “Ballman” and the rest of the lot are killing me. Not only have we waited and waited for some concrete information on the Pro, when it finally is revealed its just as overpriced as the RT version! Now some people may say that the $899 price point was to be “expected”, considering its a device straight from Microsoft and not from one of their OEMs. For a company that has said the only reason they were even manufacturing Surface devices was to help OEMs get more creative with their form factors; this seems to be a huge step down a cliff. Where in any of this “strategy” does the Surface exude any semblance of inspiration? The click-in keyboard? The kickstand? Oh ok. While the user experience is interesting and Windows 8 software tablet optimization is good, there’s no way I can tell a family member to buy this. At least not with a straight face. I’m tired of not having a straight face, Microsoft.