Windows 8 tablets will certainly make the bar higher for existing market leaders. Here we compare Microsoft Surface Pro vs Acer Iconia W700. Though both: rich in features, but high prices
There are today two kinds of tablets on the market. There is the tablet that is a bigger smartphone, and looks and behaves accordingly except that it does not make calls. This device is primarily for fun: for reading books, browsing through magazines, playing games, and watching videos and movies.
It is not big enough or powerful enough to be a productivity device, in fact it is not even big enough for watching movies properly or for playing high quality games, for these things a large HD TV connected to a console or a set top box is still the best option. But it is great to have fun, to stay connected and to do some work.
Meanwhile the traditional laptop, that epitome of productivity and portability has been slimming down and generally becoming lighter, prettier and easier to carry. The prime example of this device is of course the MacBook Air, and the host of ultrabooks it has inspired. But that has not been its stop. The Air was brilliant for its time, but things have moved on since. It is time now to separate the keyboard from the display, and make that display a touchscreen, all in the name of greater portability and ease of use.
This device has to work under certain constraints. A) It can’t be less powerful than a traditional laptop. B) It can’t be too small, for example it can’t have a 7 inch screen. That simply won’t work. C) It has to have some form of an attachable keyboard.
Thus it is that we saw Microsoft announce two different types of tablets. One, which price wise and power wise is a laptop replacement, and second is an iPad like tablet.
The first one has an Intel processor, the second sports ARM innards. The first runs the full Windows 8 experience, the second a more slimmed down Windows RT. Both come with keyboards, but one is more in the line of traditional keyboard than the other. Microsoft calls them Touch cover and Type cover. The Touch cover is the one that is like Apple’s smart cover with a keyboard inked on it, while the type cover is 1.5 mm thick and more tactile.
These are two types of tablets. And yet, the difference, that I spent several paragraphs sketching, is blurring. The iPad is 10.1, the Surface is 10.8 inch. A difference but only a mite of difference. Moreover both Surface RT and Surface Pro (the Intel version) are of the same dimensions, though the second is thicker. The ARM processor inside RT will be less powerful than Intel Ivy Bridge on the Pro version, but ARM chips are getting more powerful with each reiteration. Already they are snapping at the heels of Intel’s x86 processors. How long before no difference remains? As soon as the processor becomes more powerful, no reason will remain for a stripped down version of the OS.
It is this blurring that makes the two versions of the Surface seems a bit contrived. Why two keyboards when clearly one is better and can be attached to both the two versions of the tablet?
For now, many companies are willing to follow Microsoft down the differentiation route. One being Acer which has announced its own Windows tablet, the Acer Iconia W700. Acer at least is clear that it wants to position its device as a laptop replacement. It comes with a Bluetooth keyboard, has a more robust 11.6 inch screen, 128 GB SSD, and full 1080 p HD resolution.
It would have 3 USB 3.0 ports, and a core i5 3317u processor. The Iconia will be priced at $999, putting it at the higher end of the spectrum. Will it be able to offer competition to Surface?
Seems unlikely. First it will compete only with Surface Pro, and not with the Surface RT. The Surface garnered a lot of attention, the Iconia can’t match that kind of interest. The Iconia does not feature any new material on the hardware front, while Surface is built of vapourMg. The high end hardware in the Surface is complimented by a lot of attention to detail. Custom built keyboards, a nice kickstand, high end display etc. It is reasonable to expect the Surface to be the leader of the pack of Windows tablets, though Iconia would no doubt find a niche.