The geeks were out in force for last night’s gdgt live event in Seattle, so we seized the opportunity to do one of our periodic “Geek on the Street” polls — although technically the setting wasn’t the street, but rather the nicely air conditioned Showbox SODO.

Our question this time around: Which tablet will be at the top of your wish list this fall?

Of course, the question isn’t perfect. For example, we don’t yet know what Amazon will be coming out with as a successor to the Kindle Fire. But it’s an interesting way of getting a sense for which tablets are generating the most interest.

Interestingly, the response we heard most frequently wasn’t the iPad but the Microsoft Surface — proving that Microsoft has succeeded in building the buzz for its new tablet even before people know the pricing. Continue reading for highlights, and weigh in with your own thoughts below.

David Lewis, Gig Harbor, Wash.: “The Microsoft Surface. Just the fact that it’s so dynamic, and also I’m a huge Windows fan, so I’m really anxious to see it hopefully beat the iPad. … The iPad seems like it’s great, but for artists. I’m not personally an artist. I like science and business, so I like the Windows format way more.” Lewis said he’s hoping that the Surface digitizer ups the quality of pen input on tablets, and he’d be willing to pay as much as $1,200 for the version of Surface that will run Windows 8 Pro.

Veronica Belmont, tech media veteran and host of Tekzilla: I’m most excited right now for the Surface. I am an iPad user, but I’m ready for something a little bit different. I know that tablets are definitely a luxury-style device, and they’re not for everyone, but I’m excited to see what type of technology Microsoft puts into this area. They haven’t really stood out in this field yet. They’ve done a lot with tablet software, but in terms of hardware, I think they have the capabilities to make something that really goes strong against the iPad. A lot of people are worried that it’s coming a little bit late into the market, but I don’t think that matters. I think it’s all about quality and price point. If they make a better device at a competitive price point, they have just as much a chance of taking on the iPad as any other manufacturer out there.

Alex Tokiyeda, Seattle: I really like the Kindle Fire. I think it’s really cool. I like the iPad, but to me it’s more of a glorified iPhone, and I already have an iPhone. There’s just something about the Fire that just seems so much cooler. It just seems like you can do more. It’s not just about the apps. There’s so many more functions, in my opinion.

Jason Rezek, Stanwood, Wash.: I really, really like the (Google) Nexus 7. The hardware looks great. And you can actually open it, which is cool. Completely customizable, it’s got the Android system. It’s actually got Jelly Bean, which is awesome. If you don’t want to do the Apple thing, because it’s so closed and pricey, it’s going to be the best tablet out there. It’s on par with the Kindle Fire, so why not. I have an iPad, I love my iPad, but I’ve been trying to convince my wife to get the Nexus 7. ‘You really need this.’

Julian Hunt, fifth grader, Kirkland, Wash.: Probably an iPad 3. It has almost everything. Good display, 4G.

Jake Ludington, all-around tech guy, Seattle: While I haven’t actually seen the physical product yet, I think the Surface would be my next tablet, simply because I do most of my work on Windows already, and it’s a tablet that actually runs real productivity applications, as opposed to just being apps.

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  • Guest

    I have to admit that the Surface looks very tempting, particularly at a price of $199.

  • W3PYF

    Am I the only adult who reads these quote from people who’ve never seen or used a Surface, don’t know if it will even be real or when…and wonders what planet they’re from?

    Thankfully, as businesses move more and more toward iOS devices, and the C-suite feels less and less intimidated by IT, opinions of geeks will matter less and less, to anyone but themselves. Within the decade, the geeks will be back in their Linux boxes, and their anti-Apple attitudes will seem even more quaint than they do to those of us who just want our tablets to “work.”

    • Vance Morgan

      So Microsoft has announced the release date already (Oct 26), and an IDC analyst has already stated Microsoft is set to produce 3 million surface tablets, yet you still aren’t sure that it’s even real?

      Unlike Crapple, Microsoft knows that the most important part isn’t the hardware. Yes, that’s important, but what the user actually interacts with is the operating system. People have already been trying out Windows 8 in droves. Windows 8 previews are currently installed on more computers than even the latest released mac OS. People know what Windows 8 feels like. So yes, people can already have an idea of what they want. iOS is lagging behind. It’s been stagnant for a while until Crapple can find more things to rip off from their competitors.

      • clive boulton

        Hasn’t the shift to smaller devices shifted the ball down field to integrated form factors. Apple’s sweet spot since day 1. Microsoft first hit Xbox360. I can’t imagine ever buying Windows 8 without a fully integrated form factor like Apple.

        • guest

          You mean like Android, which leads the smartphone market but is the horizontal (MS OEM-type) model vs the Apple vertically integrated one?

          • Bob

            Exactly. The challenge here isn’t some new development that automatically favors vertical over horizontal, despite all the media hype suggesting that’s the case. The horizontal model won in PCs and it has already won again (in volume and share) in smartphones. The problem for MS is the ridiculous WM/WP delay allowed Google to substitute Android into MS’s traditional OEM role and now Android has become the Windows of the smartphone world.

            Apple will be fine. While they’ll have low share, it’ll be larger probably than what they accomplished in PCs and even more lucrative. Google will protect/extend their search dominance while breaking even or losing money on Android, which was the goal. But MS is odd man out, with minor share, a business model that doesn’t make sense except in volume, and some patent troll revenue from Android which they turn around and lose on WP, netting shareholders nothing. This was Ballmer’s magnum opus of failure and it appears to be unrecoverable, which bodes poorly for MS’s overall future.

          • cliveb

            MIX10 keynoted WP. I paid $1400. MS never followed with phones. Conversely Goog granted 4 Android phones, 2 tablets at IO. Ballmer’s disconnected.

    • Vance Morgan

      It’s also funny you mention businesses. Businesses want to be able to centrally manage their devices. They want to have centralized security, updates, app management, etc. This can’t be done with the iPad. In fact the best way to use an iPad in a business environment is to log into a remote desktop session running windows on the corporate network.

      It’s not as simple as just buying a bunch of Crapple iPads and handing them out to all your employees and then the company has no control over their own equipment. This is why businesses are not moving to iPads.

    • guest

      What are you upset about? Apple has made an art form out of getting people waiting in line to buy a product they haven’t seen or used. Sounds like you’re an Apple shill who is just upset that MS is generating some excitement for a change. Competition is good. Deal with it.

  • Guest

    With virtually no growth and a stock price that is flat over the last decade and a half, can MS really afford another massive upfront money-losing Xbox-like “success”?

    • guest

      Yeah, what’s the record for a flat stock and the CEO still staying CEO? Steve has got be closing it on it, if he doesn’t have it already.

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