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Microsoft Surface UK price analysis: Compare it with the iPad 2, not the new iPad

Surface is Microsoft’s third major inroad into the world of tech hardware products, after the Xbox (opens in new tab) and Zune (opens in new tab). It is almost certainly also its most important yet, and one that could decide the long-term fate of the company in its ongoing struggle against Google and Apple.

Although the £399 price tag pits it squarely against the new iPad (opens in new tab), one must not forget that this model has a 32GB onboard storage, a quad-core Tegra 3 system-on-chip clocked at up to 1.4GHz and 2GB of RAM.

There are a few things worth noting from yesterday's Surface announcement (opens in new tab). Firstly, the model announced was the Surface with Windows RT, which is ARM-based. You can currently only pre-order this one, and not the Intel-based Surface Pro. Microsoft failed to mention when Surface Pro would go on pre-order.

(opens in new tab)Secondly, the price includes a full version of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013. Although not a straight apples-to-apples comparison, it’s worth noting that the 2010 edition, which runs on the traditional Windows OS and can be installed on up to three computers, costs around £85.

Thirdly, there’s the fact that both versions of the Surface come with a 10.6in display, much bigger than an iPad and marginally bigger than the 10.1in screen found on most Android tablets. With 149 PPI, it has roughly the same pixel density (13 per cent higher than the iPad 2's display).

Lastly, unlike the iPad, the Surface features a microSDXC card slot, a full size USB 2.0 port, a kickstand, as well as an official cover keyboard that sports its own touchpad.

This means that you can update it to 96GB for around £40, and to 64GB for around a tenner. In contrast, a 16GB iPad 2 costs £329, while a 64GB model would probably cost £429.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.