In search of the sub-$300 Windows RT tablet

Microsoft says they are coming -- maybe tomorrow?

NEW YORK -- Where are the sub-$300 Windows RT tablets?

That's a question that might not be answered until Friday, when tablet makers finally put them on sale.

During the Windows 8 launch presentation here, Microsoft's corporate vice president of PCs, Mike Angiulo, said there would be Windows RT tablets for less than $300, although no lower-priced tablets were shown. Some higher prices were mentioned for Intel-based Windows 8 tablets, but Windows RT is based on ARM chips, which are used in most smartphones and tablets.

Microsoft's own Surface RT tablet will start at $499, a premium price more in line with that of the iPad. Windows RT tablets and convertible devices are coming from Dell, Asustek and Samsung, and those vendors showed some of their tablet hardware at the Windows 8 event. Lenovo also displayed a Windows RT laptop.

Dell showed the XPS 10 which runs Windows RT, has a detachable keyboard and starts at $499. Samsung showed the Ativ tab, a stand-alone tablet. Asus had its Vivo Tab RT, which comes with a detachable keyboard and starts at $599. Lenovo also showed its Yoga 13 with Windows RT. A clamshell device that is actually a touchscreen laptop, the Yoga 13 starts at $799. (Lenovo also makes an Intel-based Yoga tablet.)

A Lenovo executive in August said that Windows RT tablets could start at $300.

There are some tablets that start at prices as low as $199. The 8GB Google Nexus 7 is one example.

However, the tablets shown at the New York event do have more storage capacity, and that could justify their higher prices. The Dell device has 64GB of storage, and the Asus device has 32GB, while Samsung has models with 32GB to 64GB of storage.

Nonetheless, analysts said on Thursday that manufacturers will need to justify the prices of Windows RT tablets that go for more than $200, even if they have more storage, because the Windows 8 operating system with a touchscreen is new and untried.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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