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Report: Microsoft is going to try to make a cheap Surface tablet… again

The Surface 3’s non-LTE version.

Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is going to release a $400, 10-inch, Intel-powered Surface tablet in the second half of the year, in a renewed effort to take on the iPad.

This represents a return to a strategy the company has tried before. The original ARM Surface RT and Surface 2 and the Intel-equipped Surface 3 were all attempts to offer a low(ish) priced tablet operating in the same approximate market as the iPad. None saw any great success, however, and the Surface 3 was discontinued in late 2016. The winner in the Surface line has been the more expensive Surface Pro series: Microsoft found a formula that worked with the Surface Pro 3 and has seen steady sales and a proliferation of copycat devices.

The problem with Surface Pro is the price: the current-generation Surface Pro starts at $799. This makes it a hard sell for markets such as education, where it’s going up against systems such as Apple’s new $329 iPad (sold to schools for $299), and various Chromebooks running Google’s Chrome OS.

Bloomberg writes that the new tablet will break from the Surface line’s square styling, instead having a more rounded look, and will use USB Type-C—not the proprietary Surface Connect port—for its charging and syncing. Weight will be around 20 percent less than the current Pros, with battery life of around 9-10 hours. Storage sizes of 64 and 128GB are planned, as is a version with LTE connectivity.

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