We test Microsoft’s Surface Pro workhorse tablet in several common desktop-use cases to see how it stacks up to a traditional PC
For the last three years, there have been questions about what the spectacular rise of the iPad and other tablet computers means for the traditional desktop PC. Are tablet sales cannibalizing PC sales (the “post-PC” worldview), or is this simply a new category that people are buying alongside traditional computers? Will the tablet remain a third device, between a smartphone and a PC, or will it gradually take over the role that’s currently played by laptop and desktop computers? With the release of the Surface Pro, Microsoft isn’t making these questions any easier to answer.
Note: This feature was originally featured in the June 2013 issue of the magazine.
Whatever plans Microsoft may have had for Windows RT heading into 2014 may need to be adjusted. Consumers just aren't buying Windows RT devices, and with sales being as weak as they are, Microsoft's OEM partners are beginning to lose interest, too. Case in point, Asus has reportedly decided to stop producing Windows RT tablets, which run on ARM-based processors rather than x86 chips.
We suppose it was inevitable that a class action lawsuit of some sort would be filed against Microsoft over its handling of Surface RT. If you recall, Microsoft was never very forthcoming about its Surface RT sales figures, waiting until its Q4 2013 earnings report to reveal that Surface RT was essentially a flop, causing the company to take a $900 million charge on unsold inventory. The class action suit filed against Microsoft accuses the company of making misleading statements in regards to its financial performance and Surface RT in particular.
Amazon's become a bit predictable as of late, at least regarding its Kindle line. It goes something like this: Launch a tablet, ride it out with occasional discounts, slash the price one last time, rinse and repeat. If you head over to Amazon right now, you'll notice that the Kindle Fire HD now starts at $159, down $40 from its list price of $199. The most likely explanation is that Amazon is clearing out inventory to make room for a refreshed Kindle Fire HD line.
Microsoft found out the hard way that it's not so easy competing in the hardware space, just as Acer warned. On the flip side, Google proved that success stories are possible by launching its own brand Nexus 7 tablet (built by Asus), which is widely considered the best Android tablet available. Now there's talk that Nvidia might jump into the hardware space with an Android tablet of its own.
Second generation Nexus 7 shipments may be lower than expected
Google recently launched its second generation Nexus 7 tablet, once again tapping Asus to manufacturer the popular slate. This time around, the new model Nexus 7 comes with an upgraded 1920x1200 display, a faster SoC (1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor), twice as much RAM (2GB), the addition of a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera, and a few other praise-worthy enhancements, but even so, shipments may not be as high as Google hoped.
Newly released data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) suggests that the lack of a new iPad model from Apple is the primary reason why tablet shipments declined in the second quarter of 2013. According to IDC's figures, worldwide tablet shipments "finally experienced a sequential decline," dropping 9.7 percent in the most recent quarter. At the same time, the 45.1 million tablets shipped in Q2 represents a 59.6 percent jump from the same quarter a year ago.
Locate your device in a flash with app-based location service
Sick and tired of losing your phone? Need some help when you've misplaced it? Google has a solution for you: the Android Device Manager service. Similar to Apple's Find My iPhone, this life-saving app will be released later in the month and can aid in pulling you out of some potentially sticky situations.
Small tablets gave overall sales a big boost last quarter
The tablet buying frenzy may have started with Apple's 9.7-inch iPad, but these days, consumers are more interested in slates with smaller screen sizes. According to Canalys, 68 percent of tablets shipped in the second quarter of 2013 had a screen size smaller than 9 inches, a buying a habit that may have helped Android nab a majority 53 percent share of the market compared to Apple's 43 percent.
Maybe Microsoft should have listened to its hardware partners when they pissed and moaned about the Redmond outfit deciding to build its own hardware. Acer was especially outspoken, warning Microsoft on several occasions that competing in the hardware space is a whole different ballgame than software, but those warnings fell on deaf ears and now Microsoft is paying the price.