Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Microsoft's Surface Pro tablets get a release date: Feb. 9

On Tuesday, Microsoft finally announced the U.S. and Canadian ship date of its Surface Pro tablets. Rumored to be launching in late January, the company's official date has been announced as Feb. 9.

Originally expected 90 days after the launch of the Surface RT tablets, which use ARM processors and run Windows RT, the Surface Pro tablets are a tad bit late (Windows 8 and the Surface RT tablets shipped on Oct. 26, 2012).

The Surface Pro comes with an Intel Core i5 processor and either 64GB ($899) or 128GB ($999) of onboard solid-state storage. Sadly, Surface Pro tablets will not come bundled a Touch Cover or Type Cover, unlike some Surface RT bundles. Those are sold separately at $120 or $130, respectively.

Of those two, the Type Cover will be most reminiscent of a standard computer keyboard, and is incredibly useful for those trying to turn the Surface into a replacement for a laptop that is still basically the same form factor as any tablet. For those looking for such a setup, that will mean a starting price of $1,029.

Naturally, a standard mouse and keyboard could be used instead.

The Surface Pro does ship with a pressure-sensitive Surface Pen stylus with palm-rejection technology that magnetically clips to the charging port. Palm-rejection means what it sounds like -- your palm is ignored if you try writing with the pen.

Microsoft Store
The Microsoft Surface Pro will be available February 9 at Microsoft retail stores, microsoftstore.com, at Staples and Best Buy in the U.S., and at "a number of locations" in Canada.

The big question remains: who will buy these at this price. From our perspective, if the 64GB model were $1,029, including the Type Cover, and included cellular connectivity, it might be a valid competitor to an iPad.

Consider that: a 64GB iPad + cellular costs $829. At $1,029, you'd have a full Windows 8 Pro "laptop" with keyboard and all those advantages. At this cost, sans cellular, it's hard to see who will want a laptop with such a small, 10-inch screen.

Time will tell.

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