Wall Street Watch this Week: iPad Mini vs. Microsoft Surface

Surface tablet
Surface tablet

It's time to talk tablets. Apple (AAPL) is expected to introduce a new tablet and Microsoft (MSFT) definitely will begin selling its Surface device this week.

Apple will naturally be the company generating the most attention. It has scheduled a press event for Tuesday, and analysts generally believe that this will be when the world's most valuable tech company shows off a smaller version of the iPad.

Wait. Don't we have that already? Isn't an iPod touch merely a downsized iPad? That may be true, but this will be a mid-sized device that's closer in size to the successful Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 with seven-inch screens.

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Pricing will be important. It can't be as cheap as the iPod touch. It can't be as expensive as the iPad itself. If Apple goes too high the product will fail against the countless seven-inch tablets selling for $200 or less. If Apple prices the device too low it will eat into full-sized iPad sales.

It's a tricky situation, but obviously Apple's been thinking about this for a long time.

Microsoft's Surface is a full-sized tablet that hits retailers on Friday. Beyond the keyboard that doubles as a cover and attaches magnetically, one thing that may draw buyers is that the tablet comes with a preview version of Microsoft Office. The software giant's suite of productivity software isn't currently available on other tablets.

Other Things Worth Watching

• Mutual funds are vital investments, even for seasoned investors that prefer to assemble their own collection of stocks and bonds. However, the industry itself is in a bind. The popularity of ETFs -- or exchange-traded funds -- has eaten into the popularity of traditional mutual funds. It also doesn't help that ETFs are engaged in a price war as expense ratios continue to shrink. We'll get a good snapshot of the industry itself as some of the fund family operators -- T. Rowe Price (TROW), Legg Mason (LM), and Franklin Resources (BEN) -- report their latest quarterly results.

• Comcast (CMCSA) reports toward the end of the week. The country's leading cable provider has seen several quarters of declining video customers. However, it has been more than making up for that by growing its broadband and telephone services. Then again, now that it also owns NBCUniversal, Comcast offers investors a way to take the pulse of the entire TV industry.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft and a bull call spread position in Apple.

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