Earlier today, TNW brought you a short roundup of the most recent Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices that are freshly announced. One of those devices, the Asus Vivo Tab RT, a Windows RT tablet, has a video up now showing off its every angle.
Now, we’re not going to bring you more than a very occasional video of this sort, but since Windows RT and the next generation of tablets running the new Microsoft code are still relative unknowns, some content of this variety is worthwhile.
Things to look out for: Office 2013’s icons along the bottom of the screen when in ‘Desktop mode,’ and the lack of lag in the operating systems response. The Office icons matter as they are the only apps, along with Internet Explorer if I recall properly, that will run in desktop mode in Windows RT. The lack of lag is important as the Vivo Tab RT has the power of modern smartphone, essentially.
Check the clip, and try to ignore the fact that it’s filled with PR drivel:
Here’s the real kicker: if the Surface didn’t exist, I suspect that the above tablet, along with the coming Samsung Series 5 device would be big, big stories. However, standing in the shadow of Microsoft’s own tablet project, the Vivo RT simply looks like a strong contender.
As pricing for Windows RT-based tablets remains a guessing game, which device will be the runaway hit – of the Windows 8 hardware ecosystem – is unclear. However, the Surface retains its mindlead, I would say.
Still, it’s still months until Windows 8 goes live, making these devices early salvos. Much can still change.
OUYA and OnLive: The perfect partnership to upset gaming’s big three
The team behind OUYA announced today that OnLive, an on-demand gaming service that can stream to pretty much any device, will be available on their Kickstarter-funded hardware .
It’s an intriguing partnership. OnLive already has its own miniature set top box and dedicated controller for the big screen. With a low price point and minimal hardware specifications (it streams from the cloud, after all) you would have thought they would want to be rivals, not collaborators.
However, both parties get an interesting edge out of the deal. For OUYA, it suddenly has a way of making its hardware futureproof. The traditional ‘big three’ in the home console market are under an enormous amount of pressure regarding exactly how powerful their next systems will be. The Wii U, set to be released later this year, has already been criticised for not being ‘next gen’ enough, and only equal to or slightly above the graphical capabilities of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Similarly critics are asking how long it will take for OUYA to feel underpowered both by developers and gamers. It’s built on Android after all, an operating system which Google is constantly improving and tweaking for future devices. It’s also meant to be the size of a rubik’s cube; a clear indication of the power it’s packing.
With OnLive support OUYA can technically stream any title, both now and in the future. Provided OnLive carries it – which some say has been an issue in the past regarding new releases – players should be able to play whatever they like from the day OUYA is launched. Admittedly OnLive requires a consistent and fast broadband connection (especially for multiplayer or high definition displays), but it’s an option which should only get better as time goes on. It’s the unique selling point which OnLive has tried to pioneer itself, but failed either due to a lack of marketing or consumer faith in cloud gaming.
The move is significant for OnLive too because it shifts its focus ever more on being a service, rather than a hardware choice. Being on OUYA will no doubt improve the brand recognition of OnLive, reminding players once again that they can continue playing their games on other, more mobile devices such as a tablet or netbook. While OUYA is focused on bringing mobile games back to the living room, there’s no harm in allowing OnLive to make it portable again too.
OnLive will also improve its chances for gaining revenue through game purchases. It’s difficult to determine how much of OnLive’s profits come from this source rather than hardware sales (I imagine quite a bit), but teaming up with OUYA will only improve its chances of a consumer clicking ‘buy’ next to a new title.
The announcement today should also give Sony something to think about in the coming months, given its recent acquisition of Galkai . The buyout, which cost Sony roughly $380 million earlier this month, was a reminder that the company is keen to improve its online offering both for existing and future hardware. It was a strong statement; aside from OnLive, there’s no cloud-based games company with quite the same clout as Galkai.
Regardless, OUYA and OnLive are a very good fit. Both consoles are young and looking to bring fresh ideas to the home console space. What they lack in experience and consumer loyalty, they’ll likely make up for with a brilliant price point and ability to pivot when needed. Together, they’ll no doubt bring even more backers to the OUYA Kickstarter before it closes in just under two weeks. Once again, it looks like OUYA just got a whole lot more interesting.
Microsoft cuts Surface RT price by up to 33% in Europe, now upwards of £279 in UK, €329 in Germany
Microsoft has slashed the price of its entry-level Surface RT tablet-laptop hybrid to €329 euros in Germany and £279 in the United Kingdom, following a similar offer for consumers in the United States last week.
The 32GB model is also being sold with its companion Touch Cover for 429 euros in Germany; the same as the basic 64GB variant. The premium 64GB model with Touch Cover is being sold for 529 euros, meanwhile.
The new price points are live at Microsoft’s official site, as well as a number of authorized dealers in Germany. The new €329 tag is down from €479 previously – a €150 reduction, or roughly a third – and sits slightly higher than the new $349 (roughly €267) price tag recently issued in the United States.
A quick glance at the Surface RT page in the United Kingdom reveals that the device is now being sold at £279. The page lists the official Microsoft Store and high-profile brick-and-mortar retailers John Lewis and PC World as participating retailers, although the former doesn’t appear to be live just yet. It’s only a matter of time, however.
Again, the new £279 price tag for the 32GB Surface RT is down from £399, equal to a 30 percent cut.
Elsewhere, the Surface RT is being sold from €339 in France, €337 in Italy and €329 in Spain. Similar price points are available for other European consumers.
Microsoft hasn’t disclosed the reasons for the sudden price drops, although initial sales are undoubtedly a contributing factor. The company has never revealed official sales figures, although the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimated in May that 900,000 Surface RT and Surface Pro devices had been sold in the first three months of 2013 – its first full quarter on the market.
The Surface is Microsoft’s first foray into tablet computers. While the Surface Pro is being pitched as a replacement for users’ laptops – it runs the full version of Windows 8 and comes with laptop-equivalent specs under the hood – the Surface RT is designed to lie somewhere between traditional tablets, such as the iPad, and its more powerful older brother.
Microsoft has pushed the Surface hard with a number of widespread television commercials , but this doesn’t appear to have translated into commercial success. App support is still slow and the overall messaging of Windows RT has been mixed at best.
The price cuts announced today and last week could also signal a transition to new Surface hardware. Microsoft hasn’t hinted at the update cycle for the Surface line, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the company adopt an annual cycle similar to Apple.
For readers in Europe, the question remains: is a price cut enough to interest you in a Surface RT? Or is the hardware and form factor simply irrelevant?
Image Credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images