Surface Tablet: Would You Buy One?

Everyone's agog about the newly-announced Surface tablet from Microsoft. There are plenty of questions left to be answered, but the biggest is: do you want one? Gizmodo's Luke Hopewell and Lifehacker's Angus Kidman explore the issue.

LIFEHACKER: So Luke, the live launch for the Surface had barely begun yesterday when you loudly proclaimed that you were officially adding it to your "do want" list. What is it about the Surface that particularly inflames your gadget lust?

GIZMODO: The main thing that caught me was just how good Windows 8’s Metro UI looked on the thing. Obviously if it’s backed by Microsoft we can expect half-decent integration of its flagship operating system, but seeing it how it’s meant to be seen is so refreshing.

Microsoft has been saying that each iteration of Windows is “built for touch” ever since it minted Windows XP, but we’ve had a bunch of half-baked tablets from other manufacturers since then. This is Microsoft’s ace-in-the-hole: a company-built and backed tablet that has some real innovation in there. Hello, kickstand, stylus and multi-touch keyboard case.

You’re not as prone to gadget lust as I am, but is it something you’re at least a little impressed by?

LIFEHACKER: Like you, I enjoy seeing a tablet-centric operating system actually running on a tablet. While working with Windows 8, I've whinged repeatedly about how Microsoft's claim that Windows 8 is designed to work equally well with touch, keyboard and mouse is just so much self-serving BS. Touch is the focus; anyone else is definitely an afterthought. So it's good to see Microsoft backing its vision of how we should work with some hardware where that actually makes sense.

If I was going to use a tablet for more than just casual browsing and media consumption (a market already very well served by the iPad and Android devices, not to mention the PlayBook I actually use myself), Windows 8 would very likely appeal to me. It would integrate well with Dropbox and offer me a lot of familiar apps, albeit with fairly poor keyboard support.

Actually, that's the big thing I'd want to check in person: how well does the keyboard case actually work? The early hands-on reports suggest that hasn't quite been worked out yet. I might want a physical keyboard in any case, but it's an interesting innovation — if Microsoft can get it right and price it right.

And there's the rub. Do you reckon a Windows 8 tablet has to be substantially cheaper than the iPad to gain a foothold? That's been the path for Android . . .

GIZMODO: Microsoft isn’t a company prone to being a “loss-leader”, meaning that it isn’t going to price the thing the way Amazon did with the Kindle Fire. Having said that, it's not going to make it absurdly expensive either. Microsoft has indicated that the RT tablet will be priced around other ARM-powered tablets (read: iPad), and added that the Pro tablet would cost about as much as an ultrabook. Clearly, it’s going to make a splash in the market no matter what the price is.

Something else you touched on there is how well the keyboard works. It’s a great idea to integrate the keyboard into the cover and it essentially puts other third-party manufacturers out of a job before the starting gun has even gone off, but Microsoft wasn't demonstrating the typing to anyone yesterday in the US. That leads me to think that it’s either not finished — which isn’t so bad considering it still has a few months to perfect it — or it just doesn’t work very well, which based on the need to swap out the tablet during the press conference itself, is of more concern to me. The last thing Microsoft needs is for its flagship product to be DOA on launch day. The hype around this product can’t survive that.

On the topic of hype, I don’t think people should be screaming for Microsoft to take their money until the company comes clean on exactly the type of hardware that powers the thing. RAM, mobile capability and the presence or absence of a camera is still unclear. Why do you think that is?

LIFEHACKER: Easy: as the Windows 8 launch date comes closer, Microsoft needs to demonstrate that the platform has real legs. It's not going to be taken up rapidly by business users, so establishing the consumer bona fides is important. Getting some pre-launch hype is important.

As for specs: I'd argue a lot of them don't matter. The average iPad buyer doesn't know anything about the specs beyond the onboard storage and whether it has 3G. They certainly don't know what the processor is. I'm not saying geeks don't care, but the tablet and phone market is a lot more about design than about grunt. (I'd be amazed if there was no camera, what with Skype and all.)

Clearly, 3G capability does matter. I suspect the lack of information on that front reflects a not-quite-finalised go-to-market strategy. US tablet sales have typically been very tied to carriers, and those deals take time. Saying nothing now means everyone can get excited, then we can all curse when it turns out to be a North America-only deal.

Without a price, I can't definitively say if I'd buy one. But what I know certainly doesn't turn me off.

GIZMODO: Right now, I don’t own a tablet, but as I said, I love the look of Windows 8 running where it should be: on Microsoft hardware. To be honest, if it’s priced right and actually works, it might find its way into my life. There’s a few boxes to check between now and then though in terms of what this thing actually is but right now it looks really promising.

Pictures: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images


Comments

    If I get one, it'll be the Surface Pro and it'll need to knock something else off my "buy" list. Assuming positive reviews, Ultrabook pricing, decent gaming benchmarks (my needs are modest, so HD4000 *might* suffice) and copping a good feel in person, someone will be selling me:
    - 64 GB Surface Pro
    - Sky blue Touch Cover
    - Logitech/Microsoft wireless keyboard/mouse/charging dock
    - MiniDisplay Port => DVI adaptor

    Yes, I too am quite interested in the Surface Pro, I have been holding off on buying a tablet because I like the look of Windows 8, and the surface looks really nice.

    I two minds really. I'm more than happy with the capabilities of the tablet I own (a Transformer) and don't see myself in the market for anew one any time soon.

    On the other hand the idea of running essentially full Windows on a tablet does appeal. The cheaper Surface model has little appeal at all over a tablet running Android or iOS.

    I'm definitely interested in the Pro model.

    I think enterprise is going to jump on this more than they would with the iPad. After all, it runs Windows and has a USB stick. I know I'd use one in a board meeting, and my co-workers would love it because I could pop files on a USB stick without having to wait until I'm near a computer (as was the case with the iPad).

    Microsoft is saying "This is a tablet, first and foremost, but it's also a laptop", whereas Apple is screaming "The iPad is NOT a laptop! Stop calling it one!". I know which the consumer would pick (in this hypothetical screaming match)

    The price would have to be just right for me to get one. It was pretty hard to beat my $400 Acer Iconia tablet..

    Me and my boss were just discussing about how the future of our workplace would be ideal if computers were more travel friendly especially given the amount of international travel involved. We knocked around the concept of pads being the path to this future but not in their current state.

    This? This is amazing. This is exactly what we want. From the moment we both saw the announcement, we knew what we were saving up for. I'll probably wait at least 6 months after release so they can work out the kinks but I genuinely believe that this is the future. This is what work computers should be like. Amazing innovation. Very much looking forward to it.

    My Windows 7 laptop is getting a bit long in the tooth these days, but if I'm honest, a good 80% of my time on it is spent browsing, with the rest being Office and Photoshop. Provided it wasn't more than, say, $1500, I'd definitely consider the Pro model with the Type case. That said, if a third-party OEM came out with assimilation model (ie Asus Transformer) for cheaper, I'd probably go for that.

    Depends on price and battery life, compared with an ultrabook. Was settled on replacing my current Sony Vaio 11.1" notebook with an ultrabook, until yesterday's announcement.

    definitely worth considering the pro model. the keyboard would be the key factor. if the case keyboard is a flop then the on screen keyboard should be up to what we expect like with swipe!

    I'd have to see it in person first. The RT sounds underwhelming so I'd be looking at the Pro definitely. But it seems quite fat. Fatter than an Ultrabook or MacBook Air. 13 odd mm, gee that's fat. What happens when you add the keyboard and maybe a cover? Also, does it rotate so you can use it in profile?

    Hmm, yes there are still questions, though I'm quite keen to look at it when it arrives, but I'm thinking a small laptop would be better on my lap.

    LOL. Get your scrapbooks out now crApple fanboys and girls. Your time in the sun as a the monopoly you always envied Microsoft being is all but over. LOL Of course looking back the historians will claim it was all because Jobs died. Unlikely. The 'our way or the highway' approach just really doesn't work unless there's absolutely no other choice but your way. Now there is that choice and crApple's monopoly days are well and truly over! Yeeeha! No more orwellian walled gardens!

      Ooh look... A hater. Over there.. Next to the troll.

      The surface looks interesting. I have played with a few android tablets so far and they have left me underwhelmed. What I have learnt is that specs are almost irrelevant. You really have to spend time with these things to see if they work well . Microsoft's hardware efforts have been mixed in the past but they have been working on touch longer than anyone and like Apple they have control of the OS to allow tweaking the UI for a quality experience. I look forward to having a play with one of these. I think coming late to the party may have allowed Microsoft to set the bar fairly high in terms of quality and ease of use.

    hahahahahahaaaa

    laughed my ass off at this article... EXCEPT... no one is mentioning the EPIC FAIL of the surface at launch!!!!!

    please lifehacker... let everyone see... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1zxDa3t0fg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1zxDa3t0fg nuff said

    All I need is 6 hours of medium load use on a charge and I'm all over than pro model.
    It is suspicious that they didn't announce battery life or price. This is significant because these two specs could be the silver bullets to slay the iPad. Imagine the surface (rt) released at a lower price point with better battery life than an iPad. That'd be sick.

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