New Microsoft Tablet Could Be WiFi Only: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft's much-hyped rival to the iPad, the Surface, may not be as attractive to consumers as it once appeared. Reports from reputable sources indicate the new device may have only WiFi capabilities, and not the ability to use cellphone networks to access the Internet.

The Surface, officially unveiled last week, is similar in size and shape to the iPad. However, rather than forcing users to rely on a touchscreen, its case houses a built-in physical keyboard.

Microsoft's new tablet computer also runs Windows 8, the company's newest operating system (set to launch this fall).

Microsoft's super-secret Surface unveiling carefully refrained from revealing all the details about the device's various features. Now, it appears there may have been good reason for that strategy.

Bloomberg quotes two insiders who say the new Surface isn't capable of connections to today's cellphone networks. (Source:

Premium Tablets Include Mobile Connection

Lacking cellphone capability, the Surface would be closer in comparison to the cheaper version of the iPad, which also allows only connection to WiFi networks.

More expensive iPads allow for WiFi connections, but also include a slot to insert a smartphone-style SIM card so that users can go online anywhere within range of the cellphone network to which they subscribe.

However, lacking celllphone connectivity may narrow the Surface's appeal, but doesn't necessarily kill it. Many people find WiFi a viable option because they use their portable computers at home, when visiting friends, or in public places that offer access to wireless hotspots.

The problem with Microsoft's decision to exclude cellphone connectivity is that it may limit the Surface's appeal to people who would have liked to use it as a business tool. Such users generally need the ability to work anywhere without having to hunt down a WiFi connection.

Surface Battery Life Impressive But Not iPad Beating

A separate report suggests the Surface's battery life will be about 7.5 hours. That's a short life than the iPad's 10 hours, but much longer than most portable computers. (Source:

Speculation about Surface features continues to run wild largely because Microsoft has been slow to provide details.

That's a very different tactic than that taken by Apple on most occasions. The Cupertino, California-based device manufacturer usually makes details and even pre-orders available right from a new product's initial unveiling.

At the moment, Microsoft is saying only that the Surface will be available sometime in the fall.

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