Microsoft Surface pricing will be comparable to PCs -- analyst

A bill-of-materials analysis of upcoming Microsoft Surface devices suggests pricing will be line with low-end PCs and ultrabooks. But that doesn't include the cost of Microsoft's snazzy keyboard.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
Microsoft Surface tablet.
Microsoft Surface tablet. Microsoft

The least expensive Microsoft Surface tablet will be priced more in line with a low-end laptop than a $199 Google Nexus 7, one analyst argues.

Microsoft's imminent Surface RT tablet will priced between $399 and $499, excluding the smart cover/keyboard, according to Sameer Singh, an analyst with India-based consulting group Finvista Advisors, a mergers and acquisitions consulting group.

And the Pro version -- due next year -- will fall in the $799 to $899 range, also excluding the smart cover/keyboard.

Surface RT uses an inexpensive Nvidia ARM chip and won't run older Windows software. The pricier Intel Core i5-based Pro version can run older software.

Singh's estimates line up, more or less, with comments by CEO Steve Ballmer, who said last month that pricing would fall between $300 and $800. And Microsoft has offered similar official pricing guidance.

But the analysis also begs the question, how much will Microsoft charge for its "revolutionary" 3mm thin cover/keyboard? If that part of the package is pricey, then the device-plus-keyboard enters more rarified pricing tiers.

Keyboard-equipped devices announced today by Microsoft's hardware partners may provide some guidance.

Today, Lenovo rolled out the $799 IdeaPad Yoga 11 convertible based on Windows RT running on top of an Nvidia Tegra chip.

For an RT device, that's not cheap -- but it does come with a keyboard.

And Acer rolled out a Windows 8 hybrid today, the Iconia W510, at the iPad-like price of $499.99. But if you add a keyboard dock, that jumps to $750.

Note that the W510 is not an RT device: it uses an Intel Clover Trail chip, which is Intel's lower-performance (but more power efficient) processor that runs the full version of Windows 8.

We'll know by October 26 whether Microsoft has its own ideas about pricing or hews to models already established by its partners.

Microsoft Surface unveiled: The first Microsoft-branded Windows tablet.
Watch this: Microsoft Surface unveiled: The first Microsoft-branded Windows tablet.