It's nearly fall, and the launch events are blooming. There was Samsung's last week, Apple's for Tuesday, and now Microsoft has announced it will introduce new Surface tablets on Sept. 23.
The invitations went out to the press on Monday for the event, although the technology giant has not revealed any other information about what might be shown on that occasion. Some Microsoft-watchers had speculated that Oct. 18 might be the date when Microsoft would show its updated tablets, because it is also the launch date for the retail release of version 8.1 of the Windows operating system. However, the October date might still be the time when the tablets will actually ship.
According to reports on the Web, the new models will be called the Surface 2, for the Windows RT model, and Surface 2 Pro for the Windows 8.1 version. The Surface 2 Pro is expected to feature an Intel Core i5 Haswell processor, which is being released in a number of new mobile products from various manufacturers and features low battery consumption. In the Surface 2 Pro, for instance, the Haswell processor could extend the tablet's battery life by as much as five hours.
News reports also indicate that both of the new models will look essentially the same as the previous ones, but there will be a new optional Power Cover with an on-board battery, as well as a new dock. There has also been speculation that the RT model will include Nvidia's Tegra 4 chipset, as well as an increase in screen resolution from 1366x768 to 1920x1080. An adjustable kickstand is also expected for the Pro 2, with two positions -- one for using in a laptop mode, and one to better use the model on uneven surfaces.
There is no indication, however, that Microsoft will be unveiling a Surface mini at the September event.
At the end of last month Microsoft decided to make price cuts permanent for its current Surface models, to help stimulate what have otherwise been disappointing sales. In July, the company revealed that both tablets in the product line had brought in only $853 million from their launch in October of last year to June. This was less than the $900 million write-down Microsoft took for unsold Surface RT tablets.
A key question, yet unanswered, is pricing of the new models. Some Microsoft-watchers have argued the company needs to keep the price under $500, at least for the RT version, to have any hopes of moving significant numbers. Otherwise, the tablets start competing with Apple's iPad and its much-larger inventory of tablet-specific apps, as well as laptops.
Another question is whether the RT initials will be dropped from the updated model, as appears to be likely. But, if the Surface 2 is not RT-indicated, will consumer confusion about which one runs Windows legacy applications be heightened?
Posted: 2013-09-19 @ 11:19pm PT
Will it be used to make and receive calls?