If millions of people are buying 7-inch tablets for $199, how many 10-inch tablets would they buy for the same $199 price? We might find out soon because Engadget editor Tim Stevens is reporting that an “inside source” told him Microsoft will launch their 10-inch Surface tablet for $199 on October 27th.

Microsoft revealed their Surface tablets a couple of months ago and the early impressions were positive, but everyone wondered is they would be able to compete on price.

Android fans have flocked to Google’s $199 Nexus 7 tablet, and retailers have had difficulty keeping it in stock. Reports estimate that Google could ship six to eight million units by the end of the year. Amazon has also found similar success with their $199 Kindle Fire tablet, which has been their best selling product since it launched last year.

When tablet prices drop this low, it becomes harder for consumers to justify the price of a larger, more expensive device. Some say that the $199 price of a 10-inch tablet is “too good to be true”, but Microsoft might have made the decision to take a short term loss in hopes of growing its share of the tablet market.

The Surface Tablet comes in two models. The first Surface runs Windows RT (a version of Windows 8 for ARM-based devices) and includes NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 chip, while the second surface runs Windows 8 Pro and uses an Intel chip.

Highlights of the Surface for Windows RT include:

- Software: Windows RT + Office Home & Student 2013 RT
- Processor: NVIDIA Tegra-based ARM chip
- Display: 10.6-inch ClearType HD capacitive touchpanel
- Capacity: 32GB / 64GB
- Weight: 676 grams
- Thickness: 9.3 millimeters
- Battery: 31.5Wh
- I/O: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
- Accessories: Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand
- A quick overview of the specs reveals that the Surface offers some hardware
advantages over Google’s Nexus 7. The two devices share a similar quad-core processor but Surface has a larger display, more internal storage, expandable storage with microSD, and faster WiFi.

Google has announced they will support Windows 8 and a preview version of Chrome is already available. It would be great to access Google services through their Chrome browser, but unfortunately Chrome will only run on Windows 8 for x86. Microsoft is not allowing browsers other than Internet Explorer on the Windows RT platform.

I believe that most Android users, who would buy a tablet, would want it to be a companion device to their smartphone. They are already invested in the Google ecosystem and they want instant access to their content and services from any device. Android fans might still be able to access some of their Google content and services through the Internet Explorer browser, but the experience will not be as fluid as an Android tablet.

We will have to wait and see how it plays out, because no press have actually received Surface review units or spent long periods of time with the device. Microsoft could have a major hit on their hands, or they could still screw it up.



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