Microsoft Surface, iPad Mini Give Small Businesses More Tablet Options
Small businesses considering investments in tablet computers could find the best option in the Surface or widely expected iPad Mini tablet.Microsoft's latest foray into the tablet market, the Surface, and Apple's compact version of the iPad, widely referred to as the iPad Mini, could expand the field for small businesses looking to increase productivity by introducing more options in the mobile device segment, offering midmarket companies with limited budgets ways to connect with central offices while on the road or in the field. While the iPad Mini remains as yet unofficially announced, an invite to a media event on Oct. 23 has heightened speculation that Apple is preparing to unveil the device, which would sport a 7.85-inch screen and a lower price point than its bigger brother, which starts at $499 but includes some features such as a high-definition Retina display, which the iPad Mini is expected to lack. Microsoft finally released the price structure for its Surface tablet this week, with the device, running Windows RT, initially available in three flavors: a 32GB version priced at $499, a 32GB version bundled with a black Touch Cover priced at $599, and a 64GB version bundled with a black Touch Cover priced at $699. The iPad Mini is expected to have a base price of $249, although it remains unclear whether the device will be a WiFi-only tablet or also include 3G wireless connectivity. The Surface tablet, available for purchase beginning Oct. 26, features WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 technology, a 10.6-inch display with a 1,366 by 768 resolution, two 720p high-definition cameras (front- and rear-facing), full-size USB 2.0, microSDXC card slot, headset jack, HD video-out port and cover port, as well as a Touch Cover, which clicks into the tablet to provide a slim, spill-resistant keyboard for typing. The Touch Cover, which is not bundled with the baseline Surface model, is available for $129. Apple's iPad, although losing market share, thanks to a slew of lower-priced devices running Google Android operating systems, continues to lead overall, and has made a significant impact among small businesses.