Google and Apple are dominating the low-cost tablet market with their Chromebooks and iPads, and now Microsoft is trying to get a pie of the market as well. The company is reportedly planning to release a lineup of Surface tablets aimed at the lower end of the market to take on Apple’s $329 iPad and cheap Chromebooks from Google.
These new Surface tablets will feature a 10-inch screen and have rounded edges like an iPad. They will also feature USB-C connectivity, unlike the more expensive Surface devices which feature Microsoft’s own proprietary solution. The company is planning to launch its new lost-cost tablets in the second half of this year likely before the important holiday season.
The tablets are expected to be around 20 percent lighter than the high-end Surface models and offer battery life that is around 4 hours less than them. It will be powered by an Intel CPU and GPU which likely points to Microsoft using one of the low-power fanless chips in the tablet from the chipmaker. It will also have a kickstand at its back so that it can be propped upright for watching videos and typing.
The base price of the tablet is expected to start at $400. The cheapest Surface Pro that can be purchased from Microsoft is priced at $799. Similar to Microsoft’s current strategy though, these new low-cost Surface tablets will not come with a keyboard. Instead, interested customers will have to buy one by shelling additional money, though the Redmond-based company is working on a lower priced version of the keyboard. The existing keyboard for the Surface Pro is priced at $160 which will be a pretty expensive option for a student who is interested in buying a $400 tablet.
Microsoft is working on multiple variants of the tablet featuring 64/128GB of storage and LTE connectivity. The tablet will be running on Windows 10 Pro. At this point, it is unclear if it will have support for Surface Pen or not.
Microsoft had previously launched a lost cost Surface 3 laptop priced at $499, though it did not do fairly well which is why it stopped manufacturing them in 2016. The tablet was running a watered down version of Windows called Windows RT which only supported ARM apps. Apart from the lack of apps, it was also slow and clunky which is why it failed to catch on with consumers.
With a more powerful Intel chip and a full-blown Windows 10 onboard, Microsoft does have a higher chance of succeeding with its cheaper Surface tablet this time around.