Redmond has announced pricing for Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet. The most basic version includes 32 GB of storage and will sell for $499. By contrast, the low-end iPad 3 starts at $499 as well but only carries 16 GB of memory. Moving up the ladder, the 32 and 64 GB versions of the Surface RT tablet will sell for $599 and $699 respectively; the same as the iPad. The real difference is when 3G connectivity is factored in. The Surface RT has Wi-Fi only while the iPad 3 has cellular capability starting at$629 for the 16 GB model and ending at $829 for the 64 GB model.

One question that comes to mind is whether 3G connectivity is really necessary for a 10-inch tablet PC. That size is somewhat awkward to carry and is probably better suited for a stationary environment – like the home or the office – where Wi-Fi is or should be available. The 7-inch tablet market is heating up with Google’s NEXUS 7 and the forthcoming iPad mini. This size is more portable and will easily fit into a coat pocket, a woman’s purse or a man’s shoulder bag. This form-factor is not only less expensive – something the average consumer has been looking for – but is a  more suitable candidates for 3G wireless. In that department, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and – presumably – the iPad mini offer both Wi-Fi and wireless connectivity.

The forthcoming iPad mini is going to put Microsoft’s Surface RT at something of a disadvantage as Redmond has yet to drop any significant hint that there will be a 7-inch RT tablet PC. Since Microsoft is late to the table with a tablet offering, they will have to seriously consider a 7-inch form-factor in order not to be left behind.

Microsoft’s tablet offerings will expand when the Surface Pro is released in early 2013 and though there is no pricing information available, the Pro is expected to come in between $799 and $899. The Surface Pro is going to be more like a PC and its main target market is the business sector while the RT is more consumer oriented. In the final analysis, just who adopts what will depend upon the apps written for each device. Given the right applications, the Surface RT could be adopted by businesses as well as consumers.

If you want to get in line for an RT, Microsoft is now accepting pre-orders. The RT will be available – along with Windows 8 – on October 26th; just three days after Apple announces what is presumably the iPad mini.

Read the complete story on RT pricing and availability at PC Magazine.

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