Microsoft is back with a bang with a slightly more compact and considerably cheaper Surface 3 that does away with Windows RT and uses Windows 8.1. The software giant is fully aware of its missteps with previous versions of the tablet, and is looking to rectify things with this latest iteration.
Aspect Ratio Makes All the Difference
At 10.8 inches, the Surface 3’s display is a bit more compact than the 12-inch screen that comes with the Surface Pro 3. While the smaller screen is welcome, the difference isn’t really groundbreaking.
The real game changer is its 3:2 aspect ratio with Full HD resolution, which gives it greater usability in portrait orientation, bringing the experience closer to what you would expect from a device that is intended to compete with the iPad. All of this comes without any noteworthy compromise to the device’s usability as a laptop, so it’s a win-win situation either way you choose to use it.
A Change of Heart
At the heart of the Surface 3 beats the humble but ultra-power efficient Intel Atom x7 processor. This is a stark departure from the ARM Cortex A15 processor that is inside its elder sibling, the Surface 2 tablet. The change of hardware allows the Surface 3 to embrace the PC-centric x86 architecture, with support for the full version of Windows 8.1. Thanks to this step, you instantly gain access to the vast library of desktop apps available on Windows.
An Array of Configurations and Accessories
The Surface 3 comes in two basic configurations, with both getting an array of accessories, including a dedicated stylus. The $500 variant comes with 2GB RAM and 64GB of storage. Meanwhile, the $600 model comes with 4GB RAM and 128GB of storage. It’s also possible to add LTE to either version for an extra $100.
In terms of design, it is pretty much the same Magnesium alloy with ceramic finish and a three-stage kickstand at the back and that is by no means a bad thing. The Surface 3 is currently available for pre-order on Microsoft’s store, with devices shipping on May 5 in the US and Canada, and May 7 internationally.
Considering that the Surface 3 runs full Windows, has a Office 365 subscription, has that amazing keyboard cover and costs the same as the iPad and an average laptop, it just might be the best tablet Microsoft has ever produced.