After months of rumors, Nokia finally appears ready to release a Windows RT tablet. Pictures of an alleged prototype began circulating online earlier this month, and now both The Verge, citing sources familiar with Nokia's plans, and Windows blogger Paul Thurrott, claiming familiarity, have said that that the tablet is coming.
In online images, the prototype, which is reportedly codenamed Sirius, resembles a scaled-up Lumia smartphone. Its alleged 10.1-inch screen also evokes the similarly sized Surface RT tablet, whose track record hardly makes it worth emulating. But Sirius is expected to improve on Microsoft's tablet in several ways.
With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, Nokia's tablet should leave the sluggish Surface RT in the dust, for example, and Sirius's 1920 x 1080-pixel screen should easily outclass the RT's mediocre display. Sirius is also expected to offer LTE support, another feature the Surface lacks, and to boast 10-hour battery life. What's more, Nokia has also reportedly created an attachable keyboard that can extend battery life even further.
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Reports indicate the device will also include 32 GB of onboard storage, 2 GB of RAM, a micro-USB port, a 2-megapixel camera on the front for Web chats, and a 6.7-MP rear-facing camera that, like Nokia's photography-centric Windows Phone 8 offerings, will feature Carl Zeiss optics.
As for new Surface models, Microsoft has referenced them only fleetingly; the most tangible information has been Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang's revelation that his company is working with Microsoft on a Surface follow-up. Even so, reports have indicated that a second Surface RT model is also in the works -- this one with a Qualcomm chip like the one allegedly in the Sirius, and a 7-inch form factor. A revamped Surface Pro with Intel's energy-efficient Haswell chips is also expected.
AdDuplex, which monitors Windows Store apps usage through its ad network, has started to detect devices that identify themselves as "Microsoft Corporation Surface 2" and "Microsoft Corporation Surface with Windows 8.1 Pro," suggesting new devices are in active testing. Online rumors have also suggested future Surface devices might use fingerprint scanners for authentication, and reports have also indicated the product line might expand to include smartwatches.
While all the rumored tablets sound superior to earlier devices, their success will likely rely on two factors: how they're priced and whether the public embraces Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1, which will be released in mid-October. The jury is still out on the OS updates, though they will add several potentially attractive features, such as Outlook support for Windows RT devices and a boot-to-desktop option for Windows 8.
And price? According to Thurrott, the Nokia Sirius will start at $499 -- the same price as the base model of the Retina-equipped iPad, and the same price at which the Surface RT launched, to disastrous results.