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Microsoft's Surface tablet
Microsoft's decision to make Wi-Fi only models for now may reflect the need to keep costs down

Microsoft's Surface tablet has been a hot topic this week after its unveiling, and many are waiting on new specs to come down the pike. Today, a new detail has arrived: the Surface tablet will initially be W-Fi only.

Microsoft's decision to make Wi-Fi only models for now may reflect the need to keep costs down. Analysts don't see the Wi-Fi only option as a hindrance for Microsoft's tablet, saying that most tablet owners use their devices in the home where Wi-Fi is available. Mobile carrier connections are expensive monthly commitments that many don't want added to their list of bills. 

However, having a Wi-Fi only device means that internet access isn't available anywhere at any time. This could also temporarily prohibit the Surface tablet from being the "iPad killer," since Apple's new iPad offers a 4G LTE connection.

"Wi-Fi only" didn't seem to hurt Amazon's Kindle Fire, though. The Fire was released last November and ended up being the hot item for the holiday season. In fact, the Kindle Fire successfully cut into Apple's iPad market share during that time, which is the king of the tablets. Amazon ended up moving 4.7 million Kindle Fire units in Q4 2011 while Apple moved 15.4 million iPad units.

Microsoft revealed its Surface tablet last Monday, showing off a myriad of specs like a 10.6-inch screen, a 3 mm fold-out keyboard that doubles as a case, and a thin 9.3 mm frame.

There will be two versions of the Surface tablet, including the Windows RT model with a Tegra 3 processor and 32/64 GB SSD options, and the Windows 8 Pro model with Intel Corp's Core i5 Ivy Bridge processors and 64/128 GB SSD options.

Source: Bloomberg

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By mjdaly on 6/22/2012 1:22:50 PM , Rating: 5
However, having a Wi-Fi only device means that it cannot be used anywhere at any time.

People have been using laptops anywhere, at any time, without Wi-Fi for well over a decade. Simply not having Internet access does not mean that a device like this cannot be used. There is a world of applications out there that exist beyond the Internet.

You also must consider that the pro model is essentially a touch screen laptop with a slightly different form factor. I do not need the Internet for Word, or Excel, or any single player game.

Please think things through next time.

RE: Really?
By Arsynic on 6/22/2012 1:25:14 PM , Rating: 5
Tech bloggers can't help themselves. They can't shake that mental image of iPad as the "cool kid" that everyone has to live up to.

RE: Really?
By quiksilvr on 6/22/2012 1:40:05 PM , Rating: 5
And unfortunately, there lies the ultimate problem. These damn cell phone companies (except for T-Mobile) have decided to not only limit the AMOUNT of data, but HOW we use it.

I understand not wanting to have free tethering with unlimited data. I DON'T understand the mindset in this day and age where all data is limited. Why charge for tethering now? Who gives a crap how I use my 2GB of data? I paid for that data, I can use it on whatever device I see fit.

That is why I stick with T-Mobile and have a 2 year contract without cellphone discount. This gives me unlimited talk and text and 2GB of data that I can tether to my tablet without any extra charges. It's only $50 a month per line (I have 2 lines). If I wanted cellphone discounts, it would be $70 a month per line.

RE: Really?
By sprockkets on 6/22/2012 3:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
Well if you update to ICS on the HTC sensation, they block free tethering now.


Course why have a stupid tablet with WWAN when you have a cell phone to do it with?

RE: Really?
By Obujuwami on 6/22/2012 1:41:12 PM , Rating: 4
It's not just tech bloggers, it seems even competitors need to feel like they are living up tot he iPad standard when in reality they should just be carving out a niche of their own.

RE: Really?
By MrBlastman on 6/22/2012 2:09:38 PM , Rating: 2
Cool kid or not, after looking at the Slate I can only think of one thing:

Tumbleweed blows by as the dusty doors to the saloon are flung open spilling blinding noontime light over the crowded tables. The pianoman in the corner suddenly stops and nary a cricket as heard as spurs clank through the door. A shadowy figure stops, looking about the room as the doors creak closed, flapping back and forth.

The shaded man puts his arms at his side like he's ready to draw; out of his chiseled face and grizzled lips he utters a few confident words...

"Boys, there's a new Sheriff in town!" "Who thinks ya can take me?" He tips his hat and points out the door. "It's high noon and someone has to die!"

I think the Slate is going to kick ass, wifi only or not.

RE: Really?
By MrBlastman on 6/22/2012 2:10:26 PM , Rating: 3
Slate/surface, what's the difference? ;) (in a Duke Nukem voice)

RE: Really?
By nolisi on 6/22/2012 1:38:01 PM , Rating: 3
I actually prefer wifi tablets vs paying for a second account simply for access. Ever since work gave me an iPad 2, I've used it tethered to my G2. T-mobile doesn't charge me extra, as this feature is part of the phone (which HTC ships unlocked).

Based on what I've seen so far, I'm considering purchasing an x86 Surface. And for multimonitor, I have an App on the iPad 2 that uses wireless connectivity to extend the desktop onto the iPad from a Windows machine.

How cool would a wireless multimonitor touch screen workhorse be?

I'm finally excited about tablets.

RE: Really?
By mcnabney on 6/22/2012 5:31:11 PM , Rating: 2
I know it is just Verizon making the move now, but others will follow. Anyway, it will cost a whopping $10/mo to add an LTE tablet to their network and let it chew on your shared gigabytes. Should actually be cost effective to do that since it will allow broadband speeds everywhere, but you can still cling to wifi when available to save money. On the flipside, Verizon will be bundling Mobile Hotspot for free on these new plans, so if you have a smartphone this wifi tablet can just connect through that.

RE: Really?
By sigmatau on 6/22/2012 9:17:27 PM , Rating: 1
Bull. Tmobile turned my tethering off somehow. I was barely touching my data but they wanted more apparently. The only reason I used the crappy Android phone was for tethering. I guess back to voice only calling for that thing.

RE: Really?
By matty123 on 6/22/2012 1:44:22 PM , Rating: 3
or any single player game

Except Diablo 3 LOL.

Anyway agreed the device looks great and seeing how the pro version runs windows and has a x86 processor their are thousands upon thousands of offline applications to use.

RE: Really?
By invidious on 6/22/12, Rating: 0
RE: Really?
By SPOOFE on 6/22/2012 3:59:53 PM , Rating: 3
Diablo 3 requires a persistent Internet connection.

RE: Really?
By djdjohnson on 6/22/12, Rating: -1
RE: Really?
By nolisi on 6/22/2012 2:58:57 PM , Rating: 3
I prefer wifi only. I currently tether my iPad2 to my G2.

In the end, I pay no extra charges for tethering or a second account.

Further, there are likely a lot of people who will use this to replace a traditional laptop as a workhorse. With the connectivity options available (USB, etc), I'm considering using one as my HTPC.

I'm certain a lot of people are considering having dedicated tablets for home use, I've thought about purchasing a few of the cheaper Android tablets just to scatter across my house so that I don't have to go hunting for my iPad when I want to do some simple browsing (I have a 4 story townhome, the stairs can be a b**** when you're lazy). I have an Onkyo network receiver that has apps that let you control things like Pandora and other streaming bits.

There's a lot of reasons why Wifi only makes sense.

RE: Really?
By TakinYourPoints on 6/22/2012 3:49:35 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think wifi only at launch is terrible by any means. That said, LTE in a tablet is pretty great. I sometimes use my 3rd gen iPad as a wifi hotspot and it is really great. Anandtech benchmarked it at 25 hours of battery life as a hotspot, and when I ran Speedtest it showed up as 10/10 upload/download.

Wifi only at launch for Surface is no big deal, but at some point an LTE model with tethering will hopefully show up. Tablets are super useful as hotspots because of the massive battery inside them. They're especially useful for people on work trips who don't want to deal with trash hotel internet.

RE: Really?
By Belard on 6/22/2012 4:33:08 PM , Rating: 3
You are NOT quite understanding the market / use.

Your (and mine) opinion on a WIFI tablet is based on costs for the access. This is where the phone companies (mobile) screw us with their limited data usage. But Verizon is introducing an account limit, vs a device costs. This is both good/bad as there is still data cap/tier costs. But, you can use both your cell phone and tablet at the same time - they are sharing the usage. You can expect at&t and others to follow.

When I was out of town and trying took up maps and info... it was very cool to do this with the much bigger iPad that I have (wifi only) but once out of the hotel... my information became static and I switched to my phone.

Hopefully in the future, we'll get more data usage for our buck, until then... watching movies, GPS and other useful functions are too expensive. With streaming, a $25/5GB data can be blown through in a few days.

Even with my phone, I purposely limit my data usage.

RE: Really?
By matty123 on 6/22/2012 2:59:16 PM , Rating: 2
But the pro version runs win 32 which has access to millions of apps {already written} that do not require internet access, the ipad and android tablets were built around having constant net access programs written fro windows back in the day were not.

RE: Really?
By BillyBatson on 6/22/2012 5:31:24 PM , Rating: 2
Many of us don't need Internet access everywhere we go. How many people have 3G/4g capability in their laptops today? And how many of those people actually pay for the service?
I know many people with iPads but only several who have the 3G/4g models and none of them pay for the service. It's way too expensive anyway and for the high price you get slow speeds and low bandwidth caps.

Is there a site that lists the number of 3G/4g IPads sold in comparison to the number of wifi only models sold? And then is there a site that shows the percentage of the 3G/4g iPads actually activated with service out of how many we're sold? I'm pretty sure a large % of the people who paid the extra $130 for the 3G radio in their iPad have never used the feature and probably never will before they upgrade to their next device.

By B3an on 6/22/2012 1:57:11 PM , Rating: 6
Article seems to forget the fact that this is a real computer and comes with USB. And like any other Windows PC you can use a USB LTE dongle.

RE: Non-issue
By AlvinCool on 6/22/2012 2:18:37 PM , Rating: 2
The best solution, no doubt. Why make a lot of tablets that rely on internal cell phone electronics that make them obsolete when you can plug it in the USB port. Besides even Steve Jobs wanted to stay away from cell connections and just be WiFi

RE: Non-issue
By tayb on 6/22/12, Rating: 0
RE: Non-issue
By Ramstark on 6/22/2012 7:47:03 PM , Rating: 2
You probably are already carrying one, that little rectangular thingy in your pocket? It's a smartphone right? so, you plug it in or you tether it and voila!

RE: Non-issue
By KentState on 6/23/2012 8:41:02 AM , Rating: 2
Since it's Windows, I'm sure something like PDANet would be a good alternative.

RE: Non-issue
By tayb on 6/23/2012 12:50:30 PM , Rating: 2
So now I have to get pounded in the ass with tethering charges from my cell provider AND drain my phone battery to get data on my tablet? Again, crappy solution.

RE: Non-issue
By TakinYourPoints on 6/23/2012 6:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, its a terrible solution. Cell phone tethering is a huge drain on battery life. The whole thing with LTE on a tablet is that it lasts forever thanks to the huge batteries they use.

Again, hopefully Surface tablets get LTE sooner than later.

RE: Non-issue
By B3an on 6/24/2012 2:24:50 PM , Rating: 2
Hardly anyone cares about LTE in a tablet anyway. This will likely affect less than 3% of buyers. Many places like airports or shopping areas have free Wifi as well.

Secondly, most LTE/4G tablets have a 2 years contract. Do you really want another contract?? It's easier to just tether or use a USB LTE dongle which a are tiny things anyway, smaller and lighter than a phone. MS clearly made the best choice to not have LTE.

RE: Non-issue
By SPOOFE on 6/24/2012 3:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
So now I have to get pounded in the ass with tethering charges from my cell provider AND drain my phone battery to get data on my tablet?

No, you don't HAVE to. Only if you A: want a tablet that's B: wifi only when you're C: not at home.

That's an unloaded gun pointed at your head. An unloaded squirt gun.

SSD or Nand Flash?
By Arsynic on 6/22/2012 1:23:07 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think these devices will ship with an SSD. They will probably have onboard NAND memory.

RE: SSD or Nand Flash?
By Taft12 on 6/22/2012 2:35:46 PM , Rating: 2
How does that differ from an SSD? No plastic case?

RE: SSD or Nand Flash?
By Arsynic on 6/22/2012 3:12:37 PM , Rating: 2
It may be confusing to readers who assume the tablets will have a full SSD inside.

RE: SSD or Nand Flash?
By Belard on 6/22/2012 4:44:06 PM , Rating: 2
Huh? The intel i5 tablet requires an SSD (which is what NAND is) to function since its a full blown 10~20GB of Windows OS bloat. Er... okay, MS has ripped a lot out to make it smaller. But my PR version of Win8 sucks up 16GB and all I have installed is Libre Office, Opera, Media Center Classic and Adobe Reader. Everything else is default and clean.

The slate/i5 tablet will function more like a real computer with the 10~20 second boot up. Win8 boots pretty fast with a typical HD... which is quite good.

Unlike an ARM tablet with a mobile OS, which wakes up in a split second. A notebook class computer can only sleep for so long before it uses up the battery, nothing compared to the iPad.

So I'd view the i5 tablet as more of a ultra-book killer... since it costs the same and about the same size.

Its won't NOT sell like $400~500 tablets.

RE: SSD or Nand Flash?
By B3an on 6/23/2012 8:44:33 AM , Rating: 2
I've seen the Acer Iconia W700 Win 8 tablet boot up in roughly 7 seconds, and that also has an Ivy Bridge CPU. So theres no reason to think the Surface will take 10-20 seconds. Infact i've not yet seen a Win 8 tablet that takes longer than 10 seconds to boot.

USB = 4G Dongle
By Arsynic on 6/22/2012 1:20:52 PM , Rating: 2
This is a non issue and a good decision. Why sell 8 different models when you can sell just four. With the USB port, you can get a 4G dongle for your carrier and get access.

RE: USB = 4G Dongle
By Schadenfroh on 6/22/2012 1:33:27 PM , Rating: 2
Or WiFi tether it, I doubt anyone is anxious to buy separate data plans for their phone & tablet.

RE: USB = 4G Dongle
By Arsynic on 6/22/2012 2:15:48 PM , Rating: 1
I agree. I'm just illustrating how having 4G as a bulletpoint is bullshit. If you had the extra cash to pay for a separate 4G connection, you could get a dongle.

Very few affected by this.
By crispbp04 on 6/22/2012 1:21:59 PM , Rating: 3
It's a prime candidate for wifi tether usage from a cell phone. It's not only cheaper to add this option (free if you can hack it), it doesn't require an additional commitment/contract with a carrier. I'd say the overwhelming majority of tablet users have their cell phone with them at all times so this seems like a non-issue.

Unproven means lack of leverage
By bupkus on 6/22/2012 2:03:11 PM , Rating: 1
However, having a Wi-Fi only device means that it cannot be used anywhere at any time.

Until Microsoft demonstrates they have a winner with their "Surface" they will need to sell the cellular carriers on carrying another item in their inventory. This is at a time when MS has still not shown their phone OS will hit the streets running.
Consider instead the deal Sprint had to accept to carry Apple's new phone which of course has already shown its extraordinary acceptance by the buying public.

Apple released their items from iPod to iPhone to iPad in a sequence where each success built on the previous. The timing was very much a part of the marketing tsunami that Apple has become.

Microsoft is playing catch-up so is now compressing the time from one to the next. There is no room to prove their success of each let alone build anticipation and excitement in the public. A cellular version will appear when the critical mass of success approaches the point when the cellular carriers will approach MS and not the other way around. Or maybe that's not how it works. <shrugs shoulders>

RE: Unproven means lack of leverage
By Belard on 6/22/2012 4:47:53 PM , Rating: 2
I think you nailed it.

The carriers only have a few (if any) Windows phones.

So the demand for tablets is also low until there is a market demand. Even to this day, I doubt they are seeing many non-ipad tablet WAN sales.

Does this matter?
By althaz on 6/22/2012 9:38:26 PM , Rating: 2
The Win8 tablets will take 3rd party 3G adapters which are usually a lot cheaper than the integrated one (in terms of cost to the end-consumer), so does this matter to anybody? I used to sell iPads and tablets and probably one in a hundred customers bought the 3/4G version because they needed it all the time - most of them bought it so they would have the option "just in case". The Wi-Fi only version of the surface fulfils this perfectly, you can just buy the USB 3/4G adapter (for about $50 or free on a contract, although if I was using it on a contract it'd be because I needed it all the time and hence would want it integrated) and use it when needed.

Come on Google ChromeOS!
By MartyLK on 6/22/12, Rating: -1
RE: Come on Google ChromeOS!
By MindParadox on 6/22/2012 3:22:21 PM , Rating: 2
But I called XBOX support and, sure enough, you have to pay twice just for privilege of using Netflix on your XBOX.

Nope, you pay once for netflix, and once to do damn near anything you want on XBoxLive, including access to quite a few free apps, online gaming, and other things, over a RIDICULOSLY fast network.

Honestly, after playing on the Playstation Network for a long time(PSN regular is free, PSN+ is 5 a month) and dealing with all the 4 year olds on there with gaming, I'll gladly pay 69/yr(one account) or 99/yr(four accounts) just to limit the amount of shrill kid voices I hear while gaming. Add to that that XboxLive has been down a grand total of about an hour in the last five years, whereas I seem to recall about a 2 and a half month period recently in the past where PSN was down for at one point two weeks straight, but usually at least 2-3 hours a day, the money isn't that bad!

RE: Come on Google ChromeOS!
By MartyLK on 6/22/2012 5:08:26 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, you pay once for netflix, and once to do damn near anything you want on XBoxLive,

Not true. You have to pay annually to keep access to the app market, which requires you to sign into it when you try to launch any of the apps. And I already pay a subscription cost for Netfix. Paying MS to use Netflix isn't good business. It's supremely greedy business practices.

I don't give a hoot about online gaming. I absolutely despise online gaming. The only use I have for my XBOX is DVD playing. And given MS's business practices, I am certain they tried any way they could to make DVD watching a fee-based affair on the XBOX. Frankly, if they could have gotten away with it, they would have.

Microsoft is a money-grubbing company that will try to get all they can from the consumer and give nothing or as little as they can in return. The proof of that is making an XBOX user pay twice to use Netflix. That is so moronic and unscrupulous that I can barely wrap my mind around it. Netflix is already near worthless as it is and not even worth the cost to use it. But to pay MS just to use it on an XBOX is beyond insanity.

RE: Come on Google ChromeOS!
By Nekrik on 6/22/2012 6:51:12 PM , Rating: 2
You pay for X-Box live, which predates Netflix and many other services that you can now access via the 360. There's also plenty of free content you can access with a gold account, just like you get more content with a paid PSN account (at least for a while, they seem to pull many of their better features, and at least when the network is up ;)).

RE: Come on Google ChromeOS!
By MartyLK on 6/22/2012 8:56:35 PM , Rating: 2
But you cannot install Netflix on your XBOX without first signing up for a Gold XBOX Live account, which costs a fee. The Netflix account costs you. The XBOX Live account costs you. You are paying twice to watch Netflix on an XBOX.

People keep mentioning PSN. I have no clue about it because I have never used it. I have zero desire for online gaming or anything to do with it. And I don't care what kind of service it provided. All I care about is what I can do with my XBOX. To me, charging a fee just to access Netflix on the XBOX is akin to a government charging tax on water or air. It's just supremely greedy.

RE: Come on Google ChromeOS!
By Nekrik on 6/22/2012 11:00:10 PM , Rating: 3
It's not a fee 'just access Netflix', it provides access to a whole slew of other content, doesn't matter if that's all you want to use it for. Guess you're just gonna be unhappy until you can view it as the xbox fees are for a better network/online experience and the NF fees are for the proprietary content a different company offers. Most users seem OK with paying for the superior service compared to similiar devices that do not charge a fee, hence the mentioning of the PSN.

As for not being able to install without a gold acount, why should they allow users to utilize the bandwidth by downloading an app they can't use? No real benifit there.

RE: Come on Google ChromeOS!
By SPOOFE on 6/24/2012 3:13:31 PM , Rating: 2
I have zero desire for online gaming

But you do recognize that millions DO have that desire, right? I mean, you're not retarded, are you? You don't seriously think that only YOUR desires exist in this world, correct?

Dumb ass.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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