Microsoft's Surface 2-in-1 has long been billed as the tablet that can replace your laptop, but the hybrid could soon take aim at traditional slates as well. The company's purported Surface 4 is rumored to launch next year in two variations: a larger model for maximum productivity, and a palm-sized version built to replace your iPad mini.
Christian Today reports that the next Surface will be available as a 13 to 14-inch device, as well as a smaller 8-inch version that could compete with mainstream Android and iOS tablets. There's no word on potential specs, but we expect the new devices to have at least the Surface Pro 3's 2160 x 1440 screen resolution, as well as Intel's new Core M processors, which are built for small devices.
The Surface 4 line could help herald the arrival of Windows 10, which will deliver a host of significant upgrades for Windows users on both mobile and desktop devices. Surface hybrids make a natural fit for Windows 10's Continuum feature, which automatically presents a touch-friendly interface when no keyboard is attached, and switches to a desktop-style interface when you connect one.
Microsoft has been aggressive in trying to sway Apple fans towards its Surface Pro 3, with a humorous holiday commercial that mocks the MacBook and even a dedicated switcher website that point outs things the Surface does that the MacBook can't. If an 8-inch Surface becomes a reality, we can imagine a similar campaign against Apple's iPad mini.
However, in order to pull Apple faithful from their favorite laptops and tablets, Microsoft will have to come up with a compelling price for its purported Surface 4. The Surface Pro 3 currently starts at $799 and requires a $130 keyboard to work as a laptop, which doesn't save you much compared to a $999 13-inch MacBook Air. The Core i5 version starts at $899 without a keyboard and $1,029 with one.
Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly readying a bigger-screen tablet of its own, which may be called the iPad Pro. The slate would likely pack a faster A8X chip along with possible eye tracking tech.
We're not sure when to expect more details on the Surface 4, but Microsoft is holding a consumer-oriented Windows 10 event on Jan. 21. While that showcase will be all about the software, there might just be some hardware news beneath the surface.
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