Why you’d rather have an $800 Microsoft Surface than a $300 one

On Google+, Microsoft asked what would be a good price for the Surface tablet: $300 or $800? Of course we’d all like to pay as little as possible, but my opinion is that $800 is a much better price, and that’s the price I expect to see when it’s released.

We know what a $300 tablet looks like: the Kindle Fire HD.

This is a great tablet if you don’t already have a Windows tablet or a 2nd or 3rd generation iPad. Or if you have a limited budget. But compared with these other tablets, the Kindle Fire has fewer capabilities and less integration with smart phones and computers.

Also keep in mind that Amazon makes most of its profit selling the content that goes on the Kindle. So the company doesn’t have to make much profit on the hardware, as long as you’re buying their books, movies and music. Microsoft would also like to sell content on the Microsoft Store, but it’s new, and not a profit center, yet. So for Microsoft to make a profit selling a Surface for $300, it would have to be less capable than the Kindle Fire HD, or it would have to be smaller or not made as well.

But a Surface for $800 would be a much better device. One of its competitive devices is the 3rd generation “new” iPad, which sells for $500 to $830, depending on the specs.

But a Surface that’s a full-blown Windows 8 device would also compete with a MacBook Air, which costs about $1000 for comparable specs.

My new iPad is great, but it isn’t a substitute for a laptop or workstation. I can’t run Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite on it, for example. What can? A Windows laptop or MacBook Pro, for about $1500.

So: an $800 Microsoft Surface running Windows 8 will give you a comparable bang-for-buck against the iPad, and a much bigger bang-for-buck against traditional laptops. As long as Microsoft pays great attention to detail and quality, the Surface can be an excellent, transformational product.

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