The release of the Microsoft Surface Pro might finally define the Surface RT (opinion)

The release of Microsoft’s Surface Pro is close at hand; and shortly most of the tech buzz generated will be focused on its highlights, and its shortcomings. So now is the perfect time to talk about its slightly older sibling, the Surface RT.


Since its release in October 2012 the Surface RT has been panned by its critics, and praised by its supporters. The chief complaint of its critics has been the inability of its operating system, Windows RT, to allow Windows legacy software installations and downloads outside of the Windows Store. The primary praise of its supporters is that it gives one the ability to use the pre-installed Office 2013 software in the same manner as one would on a desktop or laptop computer.

Although both its critics and its supporters would agree that the design of the Surface RT brings it closer to the functionality of a laptop than any other tablet on the market, they don’t agree on where it fits as a device in the mobile computing landscape. Whether it is an enhanced tablet, as its supporters claim; or a hampered laptop as its critics suspect; has not been truly determined. The question that begs to be addressed is: what will happen to the Surface RT after the Surface Pro is released?

A Quick Look at Both Devices

The Surface Pro will be a 64-bit device in tablet form that is comparable in function and ability to an Ultrabook. It will be powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, run full Windows 8 pro, have up to 128 GB of storage, a Micro SD slot, a USB 3.0 port, and a Mini-Display Port. It will be a powerful machine! And it will have a powerful price; 899 dollars for the 64 GB model, and 999 dollars for the 128 GB version.

Although it is not as powerful as the Surface Pro, the Surface RT is no slouch. It is a 32-bit device in tablet form that is comparable in function and ability to a laptop. It is powered by an ARM processor that delivers power efficiency, and has enough high performance computing power to satisfy most user demands. It comes with 32 GB or 64 GB of storage, has a Micro SD slot, a USB 2.0 port, a Micro-HDMI port, and ranges in price from 499 to 699 dollars.

The Defining Moment

The Surface Pro will appeal to consumers whose computing needs are far more advanced than surfing the web, checking e-mail, perusing Facebook and Twitter, or using a few apps. Its weight and small form factor will almost certainly endear it to enterprise users as an ultra-portable BYOD machine. And as much as the average consumer might want it, it’s price will make many think twice about buying it. Yes, it’s powerful, but it’s expensive!

Enter the Surface RT; the enhanced tablet! Now, no longer undefined, its place on the mobile landscape will be much clearer. In comparison to the Surface Pro most consumers will be able to determine that the Surface RT equals, or eclipses the computing capabilities of any other tablet in today’s mobile marketplace. It will still have its critics, but it supporters will be able to praise it as an affordable, highly portable, entertainment and production device designed to meet the computing needs of most of today’s consumers.

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