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Summary:

It’s been difficult to recommend Surface RT at $499 due to competing Windows 8 tablets around the same price. With a $150 price cut, however, Microsoft’s hybrid makes more sense even thought the company should have hit this target price sooner.

Microsoft Surface RT

Microsoft’s Surface RT computers will be $150 less expensive to own in the very near future. Sources tell The Verge that Surface RT will start selling at $349.99, down from the current $499.99 price tag, and next week’s Staples advertisement confirms it.

Microsoft debuted the hybrid laptop-tablet last October and, up to now, has kept its price the same. Amid reportedly slow sales and the likelihood of a new model later this year, the price cuts make sense for Microsoft. And perhaps for some consumers too.

I’ve used a Surface RT on and off since the device launched last year. In fact, I’m currently testing Windows RT 8.1 on it, and I see Microsoft has made some nice, needed improvements. But I’ve never been able to wholeheartedly recommend Surface RT, or any other Windows RT device, for that matter.

Acer Iconia W510Why? Well, there are few top-tier apps missing, but there are ways around that challenge. More to the point: I never felt RT was a good value when, for roughly the same price, you could get a full Windows 8 tablet with similar battery life and full support for Windows apps on an Intel Atom tablet. The Acer Iconia W510 I reviewed in February is a perfect example.

With this price cut, I think Surface RT represents a better value, especially if you use and need Microsoft Office, which is included. And Surface RT isn’t the only Windows RT tablet that has a reduced price. I’ve noticed of late that Dell’s 10 XPS Windows RT slate is now selling for $299. An optional $150 keyboard with integrated battery extends its run-time to 18 hours on a charge.

Dell XPS 10 Windows RT tablet

Do these price cuts solve any missing app problems? Nope. Do they add support for legacy Windows apps? Not a chance. Do they help differentiate the product from the full-featured Windows 8 laptops? Yes, due to the difference in price. That means people who passed on Surface RT because they can get more value from a similarly priced Windows 8 hybrid may give Windows RT another look.

Sales should see a jump as a result of this cut, provided Microsoft and retail partners spread the word. It still could be a tough sell if consumers decide to wait for a refreshed model, but I doubt most people will think about that. I couldn’t justify the purchase of a Surface RT at $499 plus $100 for a keyboard, even though I love the hardware and form factor. For $150 less, however, I would have considered it.

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  1. One still seems better off with an Atom tablet in most cases….

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