A while back there was a little worldwide web flutter over suggestions (based on placeholder values on a Swedish retailer's pre-order page) that the cheapest Microsoft Surface tablet would come in at a ridiculous £650.
How wrong they were. The latest suggestion, reported by Engadget, is that Microsoft is aiming for a Google Nexus 7-matching $199 for the cheapest model – that's just £127 to you and me.
It'll no doubt cost more than that when it actually makes it over here (once the standard “sod you, you're not American” tax is factored in...), but still – it doesn't look like a bad deal considering the Nexus 7 starts at £159 and the Amazon Kindle Fire costs... oh yes, of course, you still can't buy it here yet.
Engadget claims an insider at Microsoft's recent TechReady15 conference – where the Surface for RT's October 26 launch date was revealed a couple of weeks back – says a closed-door session also saw the $199 price point divulged.
Windows RT's real-world performance, especially combined with what's likely to be a fairly lean spec beyond the ARM-based Tegra 3 chipset, has yet to be determined – so comparisons are hard to make at this stage.
But with a trio of tablets from Amazon, Google and Microsoft all coming in at under $200 and the Apple iPad (never mind the prospect of an iPad mini) likely to continue lording it over devices costing any more than that, it paints a pretty stark picture of the tablet market's future: make 'em cheap, or don't make 'em at all.