Microsoft Surface 2's price slash: Great deal or a waste of your money?

Microsoft just temporarily slashed the prices on all of its Surface 2 Windows 8.1 RT-based tablets by $100, to as low as $349. Is this the deal for you, or one you should avoid?

The price cut lasts only from August 24 through August 27, or "while supplies last." Each customer will be allowed buy up to five of them.

Microsoft sells three Surface 2 devices, two Wi-Fi-only devices that have 32GB or 64GB of storage, and a 64GB LTE-based device. The lowest-priced model, the 32GB Wi-Fi-only one, had its price cut to $349, a reduction of 22% discount. The 64GB version was cut to $449, an 18% drop. And the LTE model, was cut 15%, to $579.

This is the second year in a row that Microsoft cut prices for its RT-based Surface2. It did the same thing last year, and there's some evidence that it gave the device a temporary boost.

So is this the deal for you? Probably not. Keep in mind that the Surface 2 can only run Metro apps, not desktop-based apps. So you'll be stuck with only Windows 8 apps. In general, I've Windows 8 apps to be underwhelming, and are typically underpowered compared to desktop apps.

You can do a lot better with $349 than getting a tablet that can't run true-blue Windows 8. Consider the upcoming HP Stream 14. It's a laptop that runs full-on Windows 8.1, and comes with a 14-inch screen, rather than the Surface 2's 10.6-inch one. Its pricetag: $200.

It's not available yet. So if you've got money burning a hole in your pocket and want to spend it now, there are plenty of other Windows machines that offer more than the Surface 2, and will cost you less money. You can get an Asus Windows 8.1 laptop with a 15.6-inch screen, 500 GB hard drive, and 4 GB of RAM, for $271 on Amazon right now, for example. And there are plenty of other Windows laptops that cost less than the Surface as well.

If you've got your heart set on a touchscreen Windows tablet, consider getting the Asus Transformer. With its detachable keyboard dock, it can do double-duty as an ultrabook. It runs full-blown Windows 8.1, and comes with a 64 GB hard drive. It costs $364, so you will pay a little more than you will for the lowest Surface 2. But that extra $15 gets you a full-blown Windows 8.1 touchscreen device that works as either tablet or laptop, with twice the hard drive size.

So if you want a Windows machine and are tempted by the Surface 2 price drop, hold off buying, and instead get one of these alternatives. You'll get a lot more for your money.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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