With the first two iterations of its Surface tablets, Microsoft offered beefy Pro versions and then more affordable, non-Pro versions. That didn’t happen with the launch of the third Surface, which brought with it only the Surface Pro 3, but now Microsoft’s finally making a version of its latest tablet that’s easier on your wallet.
The Surface 3 is now officially official with a starting price of $499 and a quad-core Intel Atom X7 processor, which may be less powerful than the Core i5 and i7 chips that power the Surface Pro 3, but it also doesn’t require a fan for cooling like the Surface Pro 3 has. The new Surface 3’s also got 64GB or 128GB of storage, 2GB or 4GB of RAM, a USB 3.0 port, microSD card reader, a three-stop kickstand, optional 4G LTE connectivity, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 3.5-megapixel front-facing shooter. The Surface 3’s display is 10.8 inches in size with a resolution of 1920x1080, which is a tad smaller than the Surface Pro 3’s 12-inch 2560x1440 screen. All of those features are crammed into a body that measures 8.7mm thick and weighs 1.37 pounds/622 grams.
One notable difference between the Surface 3 and previous non-Pro Surfaces is that this model runs full-on Windows 8.1 and is upgradable to Windows 10. That’s big news because the old models ran Windows RT, a lightweight version of Windows 8 that couldn’t run full-on Windows apps. Windows RT appears to be no more, though, and now everyone gets the full Windows experience.
Surface 3 supports a Type Cover for those times that you prefer a more laptop-style experience, and it also lets you use a Surface Pen that’s sold separately and will be available in blue, red, black, and silver. When using the Surface Pen, the Surface 3 supports 256 levels of pressure sensitivity.
The Surface 3 is now available for pre-order from Microsoft’s online store, with pricing set at $499 for the 64GB/2GB of RAM model or $599 for the 128GB/4GB of RAM version. Both are expected to begin shipping by May 5. Microsoft doesn’t appear to be taking pre-orders for the 4G LTE-enabled versions of the Surface 3, but it does say that they’re slated to ship by June 26.
Surface 3 looks like a pretty nice “affordable” version of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3. The fact that it runs regular Windows apps is huge, as the old Windows RT tablets and their lack of support for full Windows apps could be frustrating. And while you’re obviously not going to be doing heavy work on the Surface 3 with its Atom processor and 2GB/4GB of RAM configurations, the device should be perfectly capable for everyday browsing and some lightweight tasks life Office use.
What do you think of the Surface 3?