Mircrosoft's Low-Cost Tablet to Rival Apple

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Mircrosoft's Low-Cost Tablet to Rival Apple

Microsoft hasn't really refreshed the design of its Surface tablets since the 2014 Surface Pro 3, so it will be interesting to see Panos Panay's team can out-innovate Apple's popular but slightly dated iPad design.

Microsoft has tried this before. Why is Microsoft trying again, after its failure and subsequent $900 million write-down with Surface RT devices, to attack the low-end PC/tablet market? At the time, it was priced starting at $499.

Although Apple will probably still have the edge when it comes to entry price, with its cheapest iPad at just $329, the report says Microsoft will debut cheaper accessories to help keep prices lower.

I've heard different things regarding possible screen sizes from my sources, with some saying the same as what Bloomberg is reporting - that the screen size would be about 10 inches.

The tablets are expected to be about 20 percent lighter than the high-end models, but will have around four hours fewer of battery life.

Microsoft is reportedly working a smaller, cheaper alternative to the Surface Pro. Intel Corp. will supply the main processor and graphics chips for the devices, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren't public.

Peter Wootton, a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, declined to comment. Microsoft's Surface Pro lineup, on the other hand, was well received but those devices were expensive and more of a laptop replacement device than a standalone tablet. The $329 iPad has helped prop up iPad sales significantly since it was introduced a year ago.

Microsoft's Surface Pro (its most recent, fifth-generation device) with an Intel Core m3, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD, now sells for $799. Interestingly, the tablet will be priced around $400. It appears that the Microsoft's Surface-branded tablet will compete with this model. The current keyboard cover costs an extra $160, while the new keyboard will be priced a bit lower, they said. As always, there will also be 64GB or 128GB variants, along with an LTE model for cellular connectivity too. It will continue to have the kickstand for upright typing and watching video.

Since 2015, Apple has rapidly added new productivity tools to the iPads, taking on Microsoft features like integration with digital drawing pens and using multiple apps at the same time. Bloomberg's report claims a new 10-inch Surface will be powered by Intel instead. Microsoft officials have maintained the raison-d'etre for Surface is to establish new, untapped computing categories, not simply to make hardware for the sake of making hardware.

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