Why I think an Xbox Surface is a good idea
Microsoft released a tablet recently. You might have heard about it: it's called Surface and runs a cut-down version of Windows 8 called RT. It's had mixed reviews but it's aimed at business/home applications not gaming.
Well, if rumours are to be believed the Redmond-based company wants to build a 7-inch tablet with the prime focus on gaming. A portable Xbox? I like the sound of that and here's why: Microsoft needs a portable gaming platform to keep up with Nintendo, Apple and Sony in that space - and this could be the answer.
The Verge reports that the Xbox Surface will have "likely include a custom ARM processor and high-bandwidth RAM designed specifically for gaming tasks ... Microsoft's Xbox Surface won't run a full version of Windows, rather this 7-inch tablet will run a custom Windows kernel. Messaging and other tablet functions may be supported, but the focus is on gaming". The Verge is also suggesting that the 7-inch tablet will debut before next Xbox console and it is in it's initial hardware planning stage.
I'd seriously consider buying a tablet that had a primary focus for gaming, especially one that offered support for game controllers right out of the box. I'd be more wiling to play action games using a controller with a tablet than the on-screen virtual controls that is the current norm. Specs of the Xbox Surface floating around indicate that it could have a 2.5-inch HDD but no optical drive, which means it sounds like a digital content device.
That said, I'd be super keen if any Xbox tablet had a slot-loading DVD drive (slot-loading would keep the size down) as then, perhaps, we could play our existing Xbox 360 games. I'm guessing that if it was based on a Windows kernel (which I'm guessing the current Xbox 360 is) that backward compatibility should be feasibly possible?
It's true that Microsoft has had little success in the portable arena in the past: it came to late to the party with its Zune music player and it died a quiet death. I think now, though, with the success with the original Xbox and now the Xbox 360, the time is right for the company to venture into the portable gaming area.
My reasoning for supporting something like the Xbox Surface is that every now and then I do business trips and I'd like nothing more than to to be able to pack my Xbox 360 into my overnight bag but the hassle of packing a full-sized the console plus the power brick plus a controller into a mid-sized bag doesn't make sense. A powerful tablet-sized gaming machine, however, that can be slipped into my laptop bag easily makes much more sense. All I need to do is find space for a controller, which wouldn't be too hard.
I have a Samsung tablet but essentially all I use it for is consuming multimedia content, checking my emails and using it to write stories from time to time: I don't tend to play too many action games on it because of the touch screen controls. The Xbox Surface could change all this for me.
But what do you think? I know a lot of this is conjecture and rumour - and specs can change at the drop of a hat - but would you be interested in playing games on an Xbox tablet that was designed specifically for gaming, rather than one that is a jack of all trades that you can play games on? Or do you think Microsoft is late to the party again and anything it comes up with will meet the same fate at the Zune? I'd be interested in your thoughts.
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