A new round of rumors suggest that Microsoft may be working on a Surface tablet with a 7.5-inch display and a $400 price tag that would launch in early 2014. The device would be positioned in the same market segment as a 7.9-inch Apple iPad mini, which costs $329 for the base model, as well as the $399 Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet running Google’s Android OS.
A 7-inch Surface tablet has been rumored in the past few months.
“From the supply chain side, we’re seeing the panel specifications, the touch module, the mass production schedule being made,” Richard Shim, an analyst at NPD DisplaySearch, told CNET.
While it’s been rumored that Microsoft is looking to expand Windows 8 support into smaller 7- and 8-inch form factors with Windows Blue, a $400 price tag would be aggressive if it ran Windows 8. Chip-maker Intel had alluded that its new generation of Atom processors will come with more power and could enable a whole new generation of $200 tablets, so this tablet could either be based off of an Intel Atom CPU with Windows 8 or with the lighter Windows RT OS and an ARM processor.
The tablet is rumored to have a fairly high resolution display with 1400 X 1050 pixels, making it almost a full 1080p display. And unlike the current Surface Pro tablet with a 16:9 aspect ratio display, this smaller Surface would have a 4:3 aspect ratio screen, the same aspect ratio that Apple uses on its iPad and iPad mini slates.
It’s unclear where this tablet, if the speculations are accurate, would fit into Microsoft’s plans. Most recently, we’ve heard rumors that a smaller tablet could debut at Microsoft’s Build conference this summer. Likely, the software giant may show off the tablet in late June to developers and wait until late 2013 or early 2014 to make this model available to consumers. The timing would give the current Surface Pro tablet a shelf-life of about a year before a new generation arrives.
Exact specs and details for this new 7.5-inch model are now known at this time.