Microsoft to Sell Low-Cost Surface to Compete With Apple's iPad

Microsoft Surface affordable tablet passes the FCC

Microsoft Surface affordable tablet passes the FCC

The Surface Go has clearly been designed with students in mind, with the portrait mode able to render the page to the scale of school textbooks. Industry watchers expected the device, dubbed the Surface Mini, to be released in 2014, but it never materialized.

We're not sure those specs are legit, so take them with a grain of salt. The new tablet weighs 1.15 pounds, far lighter than existing Surface products. A $549 version has 8GB/128GB.

There's one other way the Surface Go stands out versus the iPad. Apple's vanilla tablet starts at $329, with just 32GB of storage. A version with 128GB of capacity is $459.

The Surface line hasn't been a major seller for Microsoft, as compared with tablet sales from Apple, Samsung or Amazon. Given its processor, the Windows device will likely do fine with word processing, web access, and similar low-demand tasks.

The tablet runs on Windows 10 Home (S) which means it is only capable of installing and running apps from the Windows store. Not a huge difference, but possibly noticeable. There's also a built-in kickstand that can extend to 165 degrees. This possibly accounts for the additional weight.

It'll be notable if the tablet does have a USB-C port, since previous Surface tablets required a proprietary Microsoft adapter for charging and data. Otherwise, you get a single port for USB-C - a new universal standard that replaces the USB slot you might be familiar with. Both have headphone jacks. The battery should last for about nine hours according to Microsoft, which is more than decent for a tablet.

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In the coming weeks, Surface Go will be available for pre-order in Japan, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and in China with more markets to follow. What if you could have a tablet as small as an iPad, but didn't lock you into the less than capable iOS? This new Type Cover also comes with a glass trackpad with Windows Precision drivers. Apple doesn't offer a Smart Keyboard for the 9.7-inch iPad, but there are plenty of them available on the market from accessory makers.

Going by the price of current Surface devices, it's unlikely we'll see a top-end configuration of the Surface Go hit the Surface Pro's £749 starting point.

Panos Panay, chief product officer for Microsoft, said: "Surface Go is small and mighty, giving you the performance you need to be productive".

For the iPad, the Pencil is a optional add-on intended for those who do drawing or sketching.

Microsoft will ship the Surface Go with Windows 10 S mode for consumers, but you can switch to Windows 10 without an issue, and Windows 10 Pro for commercial users.

As of now, the device is made available in a few selected countries including the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

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