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Microsoft Surface Competitors Crowd the Market

New entries from Apple, Lenovo and others are giving Microsoft’s category-breaking tablet a run for its money.

When Microsoft first launched the Surface in 2012, reviewers were confounded. Its design, which managed to be both flashy and functional, was met largely with praise. At the time, the Surface was the first mainstream tablet to have a built-in kickstand, and the first to be paired with a magnetic cover that doubles as a keyboard. Physically, at least, the Surface looked like it could deliver on Microsoft’s promise to elevate the tablet from a leisure device to a work device.

But then, there was the matter of actually using it. The first Surface devices to ever hit the market ran Windows RT, a stripped-down version of Windows 8 that users panned for its dearth of apps. There was also the price. At the time, the lowest-end Surface device cost $499 without a keyboard -- basically, as much as an Apple iPad but without the performance. Adding the keyboard would've cost another $100.

The first-generation Surface, in a word, flopped. Microsoft was forced to take a $900 million charge on its Surface inventory, resulting in a $34 billion drop in the company's market value. Shareholders even went so far as to sue Microsoft for allegedly misrepresenting Surface sales.

Microsoft threw its back into the device, though, finally hitting gold with the Surface Pro 3. Now in its fourth iteration, the Surface seems to be the standard-bearer of the "productivity tablet" market, with other hardware makers -- notably Apple Inc. -- joining the fray with their own Surface lookalikes. Here's a look at the current field:


Microsoft Surface Pro 4

OS Windows 10 Pro
Price $900 to $2,700 (includes Surface Pen)
Accessories $130 Type Cover, $200 Surface Dock
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB
Processor 6th Gen Intel Core m3, i5 or i7
Display 12.3-inch screen with 2736x1824 resolution
Camera 5MP front-facing HD camera and 8MP rear-facing camera with 1080p HD video recording capability
Battery Up to 9 hours


Apple iPad Pro

OS iOS 9
Price $800 to $1,080
Accessories $100 Apple Pencil, $170 Smart Keyboard
Storage 32GB or 128GB
Processor Apple A9X
Display 12.9-inch screen with 2732x2048 resolution
Camera 1.2MP front-facing camera and 8MP rear-facing camera with 1080p HD video recording capability
Battery Up to 10 hours


Google Pixel C

OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Price $500 to $600
Accessories $150 keyboard
Storage 32GB to 64GB of RAM
Processor Nvidia Tegra X1 quad-core processor
Display 10.2-inch screen with 2560x1800 resolution


VAIO Z Canvas

OS Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Price $2,200 to $3,100 (includes keyboard and stylus)
Storage 256GB, 512GB or 1TB
Processor Intel Core i7
Display 12.3-inch screen with 2560x1704 resolution
Camera 0.92MP front-facing camera and 8MP rear-facing camera


Lenovo Ideapad Miix 700

OS Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Home
Price Starts at $700 (includes keyboard)
Accessories Stylus (price not available as of this writing)
Storage Up to 256GB
Processor Up to 6th Gen Intel Core m7
Display 12-inch screen with 2160x1440 resolution
Camera 5MP front-facing camera and 5MP rear-facing camera with optional Intel RealSense 3D camera
Battery Up to 9 hours


HP Elite x2 1012 G1

OS Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Home
Price $900 to $1,500 (includes keyboard and pen)
Accessories HP Wireless Docking Station
Storage 128GB to 512GB SSD
Processor Intel Core m7, m5 or m3
Display 12-inch screen with 1920x1280 resolution
Camera 2MP front-facing camera and 5MP rear-facing camera
Battery Up to 10 hours

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for RCPmag.com and senior editor of AWSInsider.net.

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