Microsoft eyeing smaller Surface tablet

The company is planning to bring out a smaller Surface tablet, IHS iSuppli tells CNET.

Surface 2. Microsoft is planning a smaller 7.5-inch version, according to IHS iSuppli.

Microsoft is planning a fresh new Surface tablet that would constitute a departure from the 10-inch designs to date.

The tablet, if it comes to fruition, is expected to have a 7.5-inch display, Rhoda Alexander, director, Tablet and Monitor Research at IHS iSuppli, told CNET. That jibes with NPD DisplaySearch data provided to CNET in May.

Alexander says her information shows it's an RT tablet with a 4:3 aspect ratio and a 1,400x1,050 resolution display.

Another possible feature -- though not confirmed by either IHS or DisplaySearch -- could be 3G/4G capability. That would be a first for a Microsoft tablet.

Michael Angiulo, corporate vice president at Microsoft, told CNET earlier this year that one of the key reasons for an ARM chip-based RT tablet is the ability to add mobile broadband.

"And on the ARM side, there is a propensity for a much higher percentage of PCs that are going to ship with mobile broadband [3G/4G], precisely because ARM PCs have even longer battery life [than Intel PCs]," he said at the time.

There is no firm release date, but DisplaySearch previously told CNET that mass production is expected in the first quarter of next year. It's not clear if production-schedule plans have changed since that initial report.

Pricing is also unclear, though previous data from DisplaySearch said the device may be less expensive than any new Surface tablet to date. The Surface 2 starts at $449.

A smaller Surface tablet would put Microsoft in one of the hottest tablet markets. Apple's 7.9-inch iPad Mini and Google's 7-inch Nexus 7 have been popular with consumers. And Hewlett-Packard recently announced the HP Slate 8 Pro Android tablet (HP already has an Android 7-incher).

Toshiba will ship the 8-inch Encore Windows 8.1 tablet in November.

A Microsoft representative declined to comment.

A cheaper, smaller Microsoft Surface model could make it more competitive against the $329 iPad Mini.
A cheaper, smaller Microsoft Surface model could make it more competitive against the $329 iPad Mini. Apple