Talking tech since 2003

With news that Microsoft has officially knocked $150 off the Surface RT’s price, the tablet has suddenly jumped onto my radar as something I might want to buy. It isn’t because I’ve always wanted one — that isn’t the case at all. I’ve owned many different tablets but have never felt the pull toward a Microsoft device. And it isn’t because I’m unhappy with my current slate. I have never used a tablet as much as I use my iPad mini and, short of a Retina upgrade, I feel it’s going to be very tough to beat.

So why do I think the Surface RT is now worth checking out? By dropping the price $150, Microsoft seems to be admitting that the Surface RT can’t compete with the 9.7-inch iPad head-to-head. And it can’t, at least not the categories of apps, accessories and consumer mind share. But Microsoft’s tablet still has something going for it that other tablets don’t — Xbox.

xbox-games-surfaceBecause Microsoft has thumbed its nose at dedicated portable gaming devices — unlike competitors Nintendo and Sony — the Surface RT is the closest you can get to a mobile Xbox experience without making the switch to a Windows Phone device. The tablet ties in very well with the Xbox experience, enabling you to play games that have Xbox Live Achievements and Gamerscore points attached to them. You can also use the Surface RT as an Xbox 360 SmartGlass device, though you can do the same with iOS and Android devices, as well.

With the Xbox One coming, and with that console’s close ties to Windows 8, it stands to reason that Surface tablets and the Xbox One will play very well together. And did you know that the Surface RT actually supports the wired Xbox 360 controller right out of the box? Were Microsoft to introduce some kind of streaming remote play feature — similar to what Nintendo does with the Wii U and what Sony will do with the PlayStation 4 and Vita — Microsoft could sell a boatload of Surface tablets.

When you take all that into consideration, the Surface RT suddenly looks like it’s worth the $349. It may not be all that impressive to the Windows faithful, but for fans of the Xbox 360 and those who plan on picking up an Xbox One when it launches later this year, the Surface RT could be a cheap way to do some on-the-go, Xbox-branded gaming in lieu of an actual Xbox portable.

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