In search of the sub-$300 Windows RT tablet

Microsoft says they are coming -- maybe tomorrow?

NEW YORK -- Where are the sub-$300 Windows RT tablets?

It's a question that might not be answered until Friday, when tablet makers finally put them on sale.

During the Windows 8 launch presentation here, Microsoft's corporate vice president of PCs Mike Angiulo said there would be Windows RT tablets for less than $300, although no lower-priced tablets were shown. Some higher prices were mentioned for Intel-based Windows 8 tablets, but Windows RT is based on ARM chips, which are used in most smartphones and tablets.

Microsoft's own Surface RT tablet will start at $499, a premium more in line with the iPad's price. Windows RT tablets and convertible devices are coming from Dell, Asustek and Samsung, and those vendors showed some of their tablet hardware at the Windows 8 event. Lenovo also displayed a Windows RT laptop.

Dell showed the XPS 10 on Windows RT with a detachable keyboard and starts at $499. Samsung showed the Ativ tab, a standalone tablet; Asus had its Vivo Tab RT, which comes with a detachable keyboard starting at $599. Lenovo also showed its Yoga 13 on Windows RT starting at $799, a clamshell device that is actually a touchscreen laptop. (Lenovo also makes an Intel-based Yoga tablet.)

A Lenovo executive in August said the Windows RT tablets could start at $300.

Comparable low-price tablets are selling for $199, such as the 8 GB Google Nexus 7. The larger storage capacity of the three tablets shown at the New York event could justify a much higher price, however. The Dell device has 64 GB of storage, while the Asus has 32 GB and the Samsung has models with 32 GB to 64 GB of storage.

Manufacturers will need to justify the prices of Windows RT tablets above $200, even with greater storage, because the Windows 8 OS with a touchscreen is so new and untried, analysts said Thursday.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
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