Microsoft throws Apple the gauntlet by unveiling their latest tablet

 

  • Microsoft’s Surface Go tablet is expected to hit store shelves on August 2
  • With this gadget, the company aims to rival Apple’s cheaper iPad lineup
  • Keyboards and other accessories for the device will be sold separately

Starting from July 10, users will be able to pre-order Microsoft’s latest technological offering, the Surface Go. This presents consumers with two important questions:

  1. How will this device differ from the company’s very own Surface Pro and,
  2. Will it hold up against Apple’s meticulously engineered iPad products?

Up until this point, Microsoft’s Surface devices have been somewhat overlooked by consumers worldwide. Powerful and slick-looking, the Surface Pro tablets were also quite expensive. And with Apple offering iPads below $500, the choice seemed clear as day. Until Microsoft had had enough, stepped in, and unveiled Surface Go.

Essentially, Surface Go is a stripped-down version of the higher-performing Pro series at a consumer-friendly price. It’s also smaller than its predecessors (8.3 mm thick and weighing half a kilogram), making it a tad heavier than an iPad. But just how many corners did Microsoft cut here and is their product worth its asking price?

Design is everything… and Microsoft knows it

 

At a quick glance, the tablet leaves a positive first impression. A decent-looking 10-inch screen with a native resolution of 1800×1200 is supported by a stylish and extremely flexible kickstand. The body itself is made of sturdy magnesium alloy.

Upon closer inspection, we also find a 5 megapixel front-facing camera with face recognition capability, as well as a “standard-issue” 8 megapixel camera on the back. So far, Surface Go is a carbon-copy of its bigger brother, only smaller.

Which is a good thing.

Unfortunately, the device also inherited some of Surface Pro’s shortcomings, such as the outdated bezels surrounding the screen. The tablet is also surprisingly limited in terms of ports, sporting only a:

  • Magnetic port for charging
  • Single USB-C 3.1 port
  • Headphone jack
  • MicroSD card slot

A brief look under the hood

 

It’s time we take a look at what hides underneath the shiny exterior spec-wise. According to Microsoft, their Surface Go will pack a fanless (and hence quiet) Pentium Gold 4415Y processor with an integrated Intel HD 615 graphics card.

The base model is offered with 8GB of RAM memory and 64GB of SSD storage at a price of $399. A 128 SSD storage version will also be available, although at the significantly higher cost of $549.

What’s in store in terms of accessories?

 

Users who like to make the most of their devices will be happy to learn that Microsoft will offer several different accessories to better their Surface Go experience. However, Microsoft made the puzzling decision to sell those separately—a slightly irritating move considering the device has been designed from the outset with keyboard in mind.

With that out of the way, here is the complete list of Surface Pro accessories:

  • Two-button bluetooth mouse with a scroll wheel ($34.99)
  • Surface pen ($99)
  • Signature type cover with 1mm key travel ($99-$129, depending on colour)

Microsoft may be fighting an uphill battle

 

It is still too early to gauge if Surface Go will be able to compete with Apple for consumers’ attention in an oversaturated tablet market. It doesn’t help that the 7th generation dual core processor will likely stumble if users decide to open several apps at once.

The promised battery life of 9 hours also seems a bit unrealistic, since Windows is a much more power-hungry platform than iOS. This goes double if users decide to make the free upgrade from the Windows 10S the tablet comes with (access to just the Edge Browser and Microsoft Store apps) to the full Windows experience.

Add to that the high keyboard cost of $99 and Surface Go may no longer seem like the tempting proposition Microsoft advertised.

According to Bloomberg, Microsoft did not enjoy great success with their Surface lineup, which brought only $4.4 billion in revenue for the last four quarters compared to Apple’s $20 billion for the same period. Still, Surface Go does look promising (at least on paper) and might be just what Microsoft needs to turn their tablets into a commercial success.

Surface tablets aside, the company actually performed well for its fiscal Q3 this year, reporting profits of 95 cents per share compared to the 85 cents per share predicted by Thomson Reuters.

The revenue also rose above expectations with $26.82 billion against a Wall Street forecast of $25.77 billion. Microsoft stocks (MSFT) rose 10% since the beginning of 2018, reaching $102.12 after the bell on Tuesday.

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