The iPad mini is currently the latest important budget tablet that hit stores this year – although budget in this case still means that Apple is turning a profit on iPad mini sale compared to its rivals – after the Nexus 7 and the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD families. But it looks like we’re not done seeing new creations from top companies interested in the ever-growing mobile ecosystem.
Microsoft, now a very-much-interested-in-making-own-hardware company, has just released Windows 8 and the Surface tablet. Its first such device, the Surface has sold out in its opening weekend, although we have no actual sales numbers for you yet. But the Redmond-based company is apparently not happy with only selling an iPad rival, as it also wants to have in stores an iPad mini / Nexus 7 / Kindle Fire alternative.
According to The Verge, that device is the Xbox Surface, a 7-inch tablet that will run a custom Windows version and that will be focused on gaming. The gadget, expected to come out before the next Xbox iteration dubbed Xbox 720, is apparently developed in some secret at Microsoft’s headquarters. Obviously it’s not completely secret since the web is already talking about it.
The same company that built the Surface is said to be in charge of the Xbox Surface tablet as well, while Microsoft’s traditional China-based suppliers, Pegatron and Foxconn, will build the Xbox 720.
What will the Xbox Surface has to offer users? Not many details are known at this time, but it appears that alongside a 7-inch display, the tablet will feature a custom ARM processor, high-bandwidth RAM that would better suit gaming needs, and a custom Windows kernel that would allow additional tablet functions including messaging.
But things may change on the hardware side, as the Surface could also get a yet-to-be-released Intel SoC.
Considering that Microsoft is clearly interested in tying more devices to its Xbox 360, one of its best selling products to date, we’re really not surprised to see the company take this road. After all, why settle with offering Xbox gamers the Xbox SmartGlass app when you could build a tablet around such gaming-related features offered by such software?
But would the Xbox Surface be a budget friendly device along the lines of the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire, or are we looking at a more expensive iPad mini-like device? Would you buy a 7-inch Microsoft tablet just for gaming?
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Why don’t they just optimize whatever software their using for this tablet to run on a surface rt? It’s more than capable of running high quality, console-like games. It has a tegra 3 chip inside it. I know that the tegra 3 chip isn’t cutting edge anymore but I believe that it hasn’t seen it’s maximum capabilities either. The cpu in the 360 isn’t exactly cutting edge anymore but it still does more than an efficient job on displaying some mind blowing graphics. I don’t see why Microsoft would want to further fragment their tablet hardware by having three different tablets running three different operating systems. Aren’t people already confused by having two different versions?
I definitely agree that it seems rather risky releasing 3 seperate tablets with different pruposes but my guess is the Xbox Surface 7″ will be running WinRT (albeit customized) and still be able to run all other RT apps so it wont necessarily canabalize Surface RT tablets. It’ll likely Appeal to 2 markets-those wanting a smaller SurfaceRT & those wanting a portable Xbox gaming experience (plus heavy Media users). Dont forget Sony has the PS3, PSP, and tablets able to play certain Playstation games too. Now how big the market is for users wanting this device is questionable, but they could be creating a whole new one with this as well.
However I think they could also heavily boost SurfaceRT sales by just making a stronger focus towards console like gaming on the existing Xbox App/tile on the Windows Marketplace. I guess time will tell why they chose this direction and what will come of it. As a consumer i’m loving the choices though!