Microsoft Surface 3: A Smaller, Lighter, Better Surface

The Surface Pro 3 was a slam dunk for Microsoft. It was so good we almost forgot to ask the follow-up question: where's the non-Pro Surface? Now that the light of the Surface Pro 3 has faded from our eyes, something equally dazzling can come into view: the Surface 3. It's the smaller, lighter and I'd argue better Surface.

Whereas the Surface Pro 3 was pitched as the tablet that can replace your laptop, the Surface 3 is designed to be the tablet that can do the things other tablets can't. Microsoft wants you to use it primarily as a tablet, but also wants to give you the specs and software you need to use it as a laptop so you don't have to switch when it comes time to work.

Personally, I think that's underselling it a bit. The Surface 3 is a proper crack at the thin-and-light, 2-in-1 tablet market.

It's powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor and packs in either 64GB or 128GB of solid state storage. The Surface 3 also has a slightly smaller display than the Pro 3, measuring in at 10.8-inch. It has a resolution of 1920x1280 and a 3:2 aspect ratio. Other goodies include an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with auto-focus and Wi-Fi 802.11ac.

The battery is one of the more curious aspects. Microsoft listened to the fact that the Surface Pro 3's battery was disappointing at best, and replaced it with a cell that can reportedly handle up to 10 hours of video playback.

Curiouser still is how it charges: Microsoft hasn't switched up the charger again for its new Surface, instead it's practically done away with it. You'll be able to charge the Surface 3 on MicroUSB. Obviously if you don't have Microsoft's 13W brick it'll be slow going, but it's as universal a charger as it gets.

The legendary infinite kickstand we loved on the Surface Pro 3 has been replaced on the Surface 3. Instead of infinite bend-back you'll get three default kick positions. The OG Surface kick position, the Surface 2 kick position and one that's as near as makes no difference as far back as the Surface Pro 3 goes. I'd argue that you'll hardly notice.

You also get a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 bundled in with your purchase of the Surface 3, which is something the Pro 3 was sorely missing. It ships with Windows 8.1 and comes with a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it comes out in a few months.

It's also astoundingly cheap.

The differences in the units come in the form of installed RAM and on-board storage. The 64GB SSD/2GB RAM model comes in at $699, while the 128GB SSD/4GB RAM model comes in at $839.

There's an LTE model coming later on in the year that Microsoft will sell through resellers and its online store rather than carriers. The 64GB SSD/2GB RAM/LTE model comes in at $839, while the 128GB SSD/4GB RAM/LTE model comes in at $979.

There's a new range of Type Covers in a variety of colours, and for the first time the Surface Pen will also be coloured. Unfortunately you won't get a Pen in the box: that one sells separately.

Stay tuned for our hands-on of the Surface 3 later on today!

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