When the Surface tablet computer was unveiled this week, its Windows 8 interface and Touch Cover keyboard made it look like the potential iPad-killer that Microsoft so badly hopes this tablet will be. Now that some of the specs are leaking, though, it appears that the Surface will have a few noticeable blemishes.
If the first batch of speculative specs are indeed true, the Surface will be intitally released as a WiFi-only tablet. Users will not have the option to connect via their mobile phone network. More significantly, other reports say the Surface will be -- gasp! -- more expensive than the iPad.
These reports are based on anonymous sourcing, and are not confirmed by Microsoft.
Bloomberg reported Friday that the Surface tablet will be introduced as a Wi-Fi only model, meaning that users can only surf the web when in range of a wireless network. The report is sketchy on whether later Surface upgrades may include mobile phone network connectivity, and Microsoft might not even have decided this yet themselves.
This connectivity issue may or may not be a scratch on the Surface. After all, people pretty much use Wi-Fi networks whenever they connect to the internet with a tablet. A Localytics study earlier this year showed that only 6% of iPad connections are conducted via 3G or 4G mobile phone networks. Tablet users realize that this sort of thing tends to wreak costly havoc on one's data plan.
Speaking of costly havoc, the first Surface pricing reports indicate this baby won't come cheap. In fact, it may be more expensive than the iPad. TheNextWeb quotes "a source close to Microsoft" saying the Surface will cost $599 for the low-end model, and $999 for the Windows 8 Pro model. That new iPad with the crazy-high-res Retina display starts at only $499.
In Microsoft's defense, the lowest-end Surface comes with 32 GB of storage. The most affordable iPad has only 16 GB. So there is some justification for the higher price tag. But frankly, I do not personally know even one person who finds Microsoft products so cool that they are willing to pay more for them.
John Koetsier over at VentureBeat has an interesting theory -- he wonders if Microsoft is just screwing around with us. They may be planting rumors of higher price points just to make the actual price points seem more affordable. "One Microsoft strategy I would not at all discount would be leaking rumours of high prices now in order to make consumers feel better about reasonable-if-not-cheap pricing revealed later," he writes.
Again, these are just unconfirmed rumors. Microsoft isn't saying much on the Surface web page, other than, "Coming Soon."