Wed, Jul 11, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Microsoft debuts US$399 low-end Surface Go tablet

FORMING A HABIT:Entry-level devices allow firms to reach students, who become accustomed to the technology and spread it to the workplace after they graduate

Bloomberg

Microsoft Corp is going for the low-end of the personal computing market with a smaller, cheaper Surface Go tablet that takes on Apple Inc’s cheapest iPads.

The Surface Go has a 10-inch screen, about the same size as the entry-level iPad.

At US$399, the device is US$400 cheaper than the Surface Pro tablet, but has slower Intel Corp processors and about four hours less battery time, Microsoft said.

The new tablet weighs 522g, far lighter than other Surface products. It goes on sale on Aug. 2 with Wi-Fi connectivity. Cellular versions are to come later.

Like Microsoft’s earlier devices, the Surface Go is to work with optional keyboards and mouses.

The company on Monday announced cheaper versions of both accessories.

For the first time on Microsoft hardware, the Go is to use the USB-C charging standard.

The new tablets come in multiple configurations, including 64GB, 128GB and 256GB storage options and 4GB or 8GB of RAM. Prices range from US$399 to more than US$549.

The sub-US$400 price point is key for Microsoft as it tries to turn its Surface business into a more serious challenger to other computer hardware makers.

Cheaper devices can attract students who get comfortable with the technology and spread it to the workplace after they graduate.

That strategy has helped Apple, which unveiled a US$299 iPad earlier this year for schools.

Alphabet Inc’s Google has also seen some success with its low-cost Chromebook laptops.

The Surface Go is still more expensive than the cheapest iPad, but the Go tablet is compatible with professional features, such as the detachable keyboard, that are missing on the entry-level iPad.

Microsoft in 2015 released a US$499 Surface 3 tablet, but discontinued the product in 2016.

The software giant launched its consumer hardware push in 2012 with the launch of the Surface RT. These tablets did not resonate with consumers, so the company focused more on pricier Pro models.

So far, Microsoft has struggled to make a hit Surface product. The business generated US$4.4 billion in revenue in the past four quarters.

Apple sold US$20 billion of iPads in the same period.

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