Jide Technology introduced to the world on January 9, 2015 the Remix Ultra tablet, which is reportedly a clone of the Microsoft Surface Pro 2. A clone is typically an exact copy, which is not what the Remix Ultra is going to be. There are going to be some striking physical similarities, but beyond the form factor, the tablets will be quite different.
The MS Surface Pro 2 (SP2) is a tablet that is well aligned to the needs of students, particularly because it runs Windows 8.1 (full version). There is no daylight between the functionality of the operating system running on the Surface Pro 2 or on a PC/laptop. Additionally, the SP2 has an active digitizer built into the screen, which supports a natural writing experience with a stylus pen, analogous to paper. Without an active digitizer built into a tablet screen, writing is cumbersome and a chore. More pointedly, writing on a tablet screen without an active digitizer is just about useless.
The Remix Ultra runs a version of Android. That limits users to Android apps and web based software. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but is surely not as flexible as the Surface Pro 2 because it can run any Windows software. The Remix Ultra will have a high resolution IPS screen, but no active digitizer to support a pen stylus. Hence, taking notes, annotating text, etc. will be next to impossible, similar to the limitations of many other tablets. For students that routinely take notes and annotate digital text, this is no small issue.
To call the Remix Ultra a clone because it has a touch type cover and a stand, as does the Surface Pro 2, is a stretch. The utility of this device does not match the SP2, particularly in an education setting. However, the lack of an active digitizer and using an Android operating system does not mean the device might not have some usefulness in educational settings, but probably the compromises will be too much to be taken seriously. The Surface Pro has demonstrated how technology can be well aligned with the needs of students, but the price point has typically been too high to gain significant traction in secondary and higher education. However, there are schools that have adopted the SP2 because of how well it is aligned to educational needs.
The price of the Remix Ultra is reported to be about $450, but has not been finalized. Any way one looks at it, that’s less than half the price of the current Surface Pro 3. One way to look at this is that the iPad too has no active digitizer, and uses a mobile operating system, so what’s the difference? The big difference is that the Remix Ultra comes with a built in touch type cover, and can support peripherals such as a mouse or flash drive. That is significant, but likely not enough to compete with the iPad brand image, or the extensive utility of the Surface Pro 3. It seems the Remix Ultra will have a limited audience, simply because does not offer a significant competitive advantage over the most prevalent tablet options for students. The functionality must be aligned with the needs of students, and combined with an attractive price. It is doubtful this device will be welcomed by students or schools in any significant numbers.
The Remix Ultra will first be introduced in China, and then in the US and UK Q2/3 2015. This assumes that there are no patent infringement lawsuits from Microsoft in the interim because of the similarity of the physical features of the Remix Ultra and the Surface Pro tablets.