If internet rumouring is correct, Apple is about to unveil a smaller version of its astronomically popular iPad tablet. Invitations have gone out to the chosen tech press outlets and those places have duly told the masses about their appointments and are fuelling the speculation.[drop2]The invitations feature something of a call back to retro Apple branding, with the multicoloured spread but it’s the wording that has caused many to conclude that all those rumours were correct. “We’ve got a little more to show you” alludes to the fact that it’s only been a month or so since the last big Apple press event showed us all the slimmer, taller iPhone 5 and the oddly larger iPod Nano. It also, so say the speculators, alludes to a “little” iPad. We’ll know for sure on October 23rd, when the waiting press will no doubt be liveblogging, tweeting and otherwise fervently pushing out Cupertino’s message to the baying hordes of Apple-ites.
The tablet news doesn’t stop there, though. Remember way back in June when we were all still struggling to cope with that heavy, fat iPhone 4S and an iPod Nano that would fit in the wrist-band we bought to use it like a watch? Microsoft unveiled its own pair of tablets and a duo of fancy keyboard-encapsulating covers to clip on them.
The Microsoft Surface comes in two flavours – the Surface with Windows RT and the Surface Pro. The Windows RT version is ring-fenced into Microsoft’s app store and works in much the same way as an iPad or a good Android tablet works. The Surface Pro will run Windows 8 and be much more powerful – mor a replacement for a laptop or a competitor to the range of high-end ultrabooks we’re seeing announced.
The pricing has gone up for the Windows RT Surface and it looks like Microsoft wants to pitch it firmly at the iPad – it’s £399 for a 32GB model without a keyboard cover. That’s the same price as a 16GB version of the newest iPad. With the nifty Touch Cover (which houses a touch-sensitive keyboard) the Surface is £479 – exactly the price of the newest 32GB iPad.
Of course, the Surface RT will only be able to purchase software from the Windows RT store – it won’t function with existing Windows software you might be able to lay your hands on. Given the size and proven record of the AppStore on Apple devices, that might be its biggest stumbling block.
There’s no price yet for the incredibly tempting Surface Pro – which will function in a way much more familiar to PC users in that you will be able to install regular Windows-compatible software on it. The potential for touchscreen gaming on a well-specced machine that runs Windows is unmatched by any tablet device. So we’re expecting it to be significantly more expensive.