Microsoft has announced that they will be launched the Surface 2 LTE tomorrow for the fairly expensive price of $679.99. This tablet will be absolutely identical to the 64 GB $549 Surface 2, with the exception of a $130 LTE price premium with the addition of what can only be assumed to be an Nvidia Icera i500 modem because of the AT&T only stipulation on the modem. This in comparison to the Apple iPad Air 64 GB LTE for AT&T which sells for exactly $50 more than the Surface 2 LTE, due to the LTE price structure being identical and the iPad Air being $50 more expensive from the base model at $499.
This announcement comes shortly after Nvidia updated their own Tegra Note 7 tablet at MWC 2014 with likely the same Icera i500 LTE modem. However, the price premium there was only $100 and the tablet’s end cost is less than half of what the Surface 2 LTE will be selling for tomorrow. Both tablets have Nvidia’s Tegra 4 SoC, even though the Surface 2 does have 64 GB of storage instead of the Note 7’s 16 GB. Judging by the fact that this is the only modem that we know of that’s ONLY certified for AT&T and Nvidia’s i500 is already working with the Tegra 4 in the Note 7 LTE, this assumption seems logical. We will know more tomorrow once the official specs are released beyond the announcement and sale page, or once someone gets one in their hands.
With more and more LTE modems it is starting to look like Qualcomm may have more competition in Nvidia and Intel, with Broadcom coming as well. However, there is still no doubt that Qualcomm is still the modem leader and if anything this means that we are finally seeing some really amazing pricing for LTE-connected devices like the Tegra Note 7 LTE which is a $300 LTE tablet, something that was completely unheard of or unthinkable a few years ago.
While I personally wouldn’t recommend a Surface 2 to anyone unless it is the Surface 2 Pro, some people may be okay with the limited support of Windows 8.1 RT and all of the issues that come along with using a non-standard version of Windows. Sure, it would be great to have the same experience on ARM as you would on x86 (Intel or AMD) but the truth is that right now Microsoft’s kernel isn’t capable of doing that and until Windows 9 unifies all architectures we simply can’t have the same experience on Windows 8.1 RT and Normal Windows 8 x86.