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Microsoft reportedly plans $400 Surface tablet to rival $329 iPad


Though this may sound familiar, Microsoft is reportedly planning a line of lower-cost Surface tablets to challenge Apples least expensive iPads later this year. The new tablets are expected to start at around $400, down from the $799 starting point of current Surface Pro models. Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg suggests that pressure to find a high-volume hit rivaling iPad unit sales has compelled the company to redesign Surface to be more like the iPad. The report says that the new Surface will feature 10-inch screens, iPad-like rounded edges, and battery life closer to the iPads promised 10 hours than the prior Surface claim of 13.5 hours. Microsoft is also said to be adopting USB-C for the first time, similar to Apples use of the Lightning connector for iPads. On a positive note, the changes will reportedly allow the Surface to be lighter and less expensive. Bloomberg reports that the devices will lose 20 percent of their current weight, falling from 1.7 pounds to around 1.4 pounds — still more than the one-pound iPad — while preserving their integrated kickstands. Beyond cutting the new tablets prices, Microsoft will apparently also offer less expensive versions of its keyboard cover, stylus, and mouse accessories, which will be sold separately. It goes without saying that Microsoft has previously tried and failed to take on lower-cost iPads. The companys non-Pro tablet, Surface 3, was released for $499 in 2015 with a 10.8-inch display to compete against the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2. In early 2016, Apple cut that iPads price to $399, matching the price tag of the smaller iPad mini 4 and leading Microsoft to withdraw from the lower end of the market later that year. That decision left Microsoft to chase a smaller number of premium customers at a much higher price point. Over the last year, Apple has sold roughly 44 million iPads, generating nearly $20 billion in revenue, versus Microsofts $4.4 billion in Surface revenue across the entire line — including desktops and laptops — during the same time. The smaller Surface will reportedly come in 64GB and 128GB configurations, as well as Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/LTE versions.  Microsoft will also preserve Windows 10 Pro support and continue to use Intel CPU and GPU components. Whether these features and the included kickstand are enough to justify a $70 price gap with Apples latest entry-level $329 iPad remains to be seen.

A $400 Microsoft Surface may be on the way


Microsofts always taken a premium approach to its Surface line, showing users what its operating system can do when run on top of the line hardware. Its a model that makes sense for a company with so many ties to third-party hardware manufacturers. But the line thats been so focused on the high-end needs of creative professionals may be getting a budget addition in the near future. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Microsoft is eyeing the end of the year to release a $400 version of the Surface designed to compete more directly with Apples ubiquitous tablet. Of course, many have tried and largely failed to take on the iPad — including Microsoft itself. The company launched the Surface RT half a decade ago, without making much of a splash. These days, the tablet herd has thinned a bit, and Microsoft has established itself as a maker of premium first-party hardware. The new device is said to sport a 10-inch screen, putting it in direct competition with Apples lower-priced iPad. At $400, Microsofts entry would run $70 more than the budget iPads starting price, but would still run considerably less than the $799 Surface Pro. And this being Microsoft, there are expected to be multiple SKUs. The devices reportedly wont ship with a keyboard cover — one of the Surfaces biggest selling points — though theyll all sport a kickstand and feature a USB C port for charging. Microsoft, naturally, wont respond to queries about the device, which is reportedly set for a release in the second half of this year. Given the companys recent push with Windows 10S, the product could certainly make sense as part of the companys push into low priced devices for the education market.