This weekend I watched dozens of Microsoft Surface vs. iPad television commercials. My takeaway was two-fold. Microsoft is desperate. Microsoft has something new on the way.
Specifications vs. Usability
Admittedly, Apple hasn’t done diddly squat with the iPad line in about a year, since the iPad 4 and iPad mini were launched.
Since then, Microsoft has lost a couple of billion dollars on the first iPad killer, the Surface RT. Now they’re back with more ammunition.
The Surface 2 has some great specifications. It’s lighter and thinner than the original, and has a faster processor. The optional cover keyboard is improved. Battery life is estimated at 10 hours.
It’s available in both 32GB and 64GB versions, and the starting price is $449 vs. a 32GB iPad at $599. There’s also a full 1080p HD screen, USB 3.0, and microSD slot.
The built-in kickstand has two positions (though everything about the Surface 2 is decidedly landscape vs. portrait, the typical position of the iPad).
The Surface RT model, which didn’t sell well, even at $349, will remain available while supplies last.
Is the Surface 2 finally an iPad killer? On paper, basic hardware specifications make the aging iPad line look positively anemic and overpriced.
However, it’s obvious that Microsoft is desperate and is pushing the Surface models exactly the same way PC manufacturers push their Windows-clad PCs.
At the high end of the scale there’s a new Surface Pro model, which starts at $899, comes with an Intel i5 CPU and runs Windows 8.1. This model seems to want to bridge the gap between the iPad and MacBook Air, with attributes of each, but in the middle of the price spectrum.
Shades of 1989, the Surface Pro also has an optional docking station which features USB ports, a mini-DisplayPort, and a gigabit Ethernet port. This model starts at 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM.
What Microsoft does not mention is the number of apps available to run on the Surface 2. The Surface Pro runs Windows 8.1, so a full complement of Windows apps should be possible.
The original Microsoft Surface line was hailed as an iPad killer. Instead, Microsoft wrote off about $1-billion and slashed the price to that well below the iPad just to move inventory through the sales channel.
On paper, Microsoft’s Surface 2 looks like an iPad killer, but even if the Windows maker moves millions of units, the low price means skimpy profits at best. Otherwise, wait until after the holidays and pick one up at your nearby Microsoft Store for half the price.