Surface touches down in Ireland
Microsoft's Surface RT has had mixed reviews since its launch in October 2012. The device is being pitched at the market currently dominated by Apple and its iPad, which effectively created the consumer tablet category in 2010. It's got a tough hill to climb though, with Apple reporting iPad sales of almost 23 million in its last quarterly results. The Surface RT is trying to solve a few issues that other tablets, both Android and iOS, have raised. It includes the ability to expand the storage capacity by up to 64GB through a microSD card, a full USB port to attach peripherals such as printers and cameras, and also access mass storage devices such as USB sticks. Its built-in kickstand serves as a handy accessory when watching movies on the device. And speaking of movies, the device also has a built-in HDMI port to allow you to connect your tablet to a TV screen. However, the size of the operating system on the device has raised some eyebrows. The 32GB Surface will give you about 16GB for user content out of the box, although you can expand that with memory cards. The 64GB version, meanwhile, will give you 45GB. It's worth noting that some of that unavailable space is accounted for by the built-in apps and software such as Office that comes preloaded on the device. Microsoft has also opted for a different aspect ratio, with a 16:9 ratio that is better suited to watching widescreen films but also provides a nice environment to work. And with an almost fully functional version of Office included (Word doesn't run macros, and Outlook isn't included), it's possible to use Surface RT for work purposes. photograph: timothy a. clary/afp/getty images
Microsoft’s Surface tablet has gone on sale in Ireland, more than three months after its initial US market launch.
The Windows 8 tablet was made available just after midnight from Microsoft’s online store, with the device also selling in third-party retailers such as PC World. The company has not taken preorders for the device in Ireland, by choice it says.
The 32GB version of the Surface RT retails at €479, with the 64GB version costing €579. The touch cover featuring an integrated keyboard costs an additional €100.
“We believe there is significant demand out there. Surface has generated a lot of interest,” said Patrick Ward, who heads up the Windows business group with Microsoft Ireland. “Talking to retailers, we do know that it’s a very regular request and has been since we launched Surface in October.”
Microsoft took the tech industry by surprise last year when it announced it was going to make its own tablet to showcase its Windows 8 operating system. The Surface RT was the first to go on sale.
The ARM-based device comes with 2GB of RAM, and a full-size USB port that allows it integrate with existing PC peripherals such as printers, cameras and other USB devices.
Microsoft expects the tablet will compete with Apple’s iPad, aiming the device at those who want a tablet not only for entertainment but also for work.
“I think Surface offers a lot of advantages over iPad,” said Mr Ward. “When we originally did our research, we knew that a lot of users want a very light, mobile, touch-based device to consume their information and to work on. But what we also found was people want not just to consume information, but also to generate content – write documents, work on spreadsheets and create presentations. The advantage of this device is that it’s all of that mobility, touch, beautiful experience in a light, thin device with a long battery, but it’s also got the power of a PC in terms of creating documentation.”
Apple has already sold more than 100 million iPads since its March 2010 launch, and recently unveiled its iPad mini, which has a smaller screen.
It also announced a 128GB version last month as Microsoft’s Surface Pro, which is capable of running desktop software, went on sale in the US earlier this month. There is no release date yet for the Surface Pro in Ireland.