The reports were true, and it looks as though Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 is about to get a new baby brother. After Microsoft quietly discontinued the Surface 2 earlier this year, we were eager to see what Microsoft had in store for its successor. Some thought that maybe Microsoft would just leave the entry-level Windows tablet market to third-party OEMs, but as we are seeing today, that is clearly not the case.
So we present to you the Surface 3, a tablet that will slot in under its Surface Pro 3 both in size an in performance. The dominant feature of the Surface 3 is of course its 10.8-inch 1920x1280 display that now features a 3:2 ratio compared to 16:9 for the Surface 3. Under the hood, an Intel Atom processor represents the beating heart of the Surface 3, which allows the tablet to remain fanless. The arrival of an x86 processor for Microsoft’s entry-level tablet also seals the fate of Windows RT — the forked version of Windows that only ran on ARM processors. Windows RT never really caught on in the market place due to its incompatibility with existing Windows apps, and we doubt that many will miss it.
Base configurations come with 2GB of memory, while higher SKUs will give you 4GB. The rear camera is now an 8MP unit, while a 3.5MP sensor takes care of front-facing camera duties. Along the perimeter of the Surface 3 you’ll find Mini DisplayPort, full-size USB 3.0, headphone, and microSD ports along with a volume rocker switch and power button. On the bottom of the device, you’ll find the familiar dock connector that allows the tablet to connect to Microsoft’s Surface keyboards.
As for the kickstand, you won’t find the infinitely adjustable version found on the Surface Pro 3. Instead, you’ll find a kickstand that has three “open” positions. If the lack of the Surface Pro 3’s trick kickstand is a big letdown, at least take comfort in the fact that Microsoft has added support for the Surface Pro 3’s pen/stylus. However, the Surface 3 won’t come with the stylus (which will be available black, blue, red, and silver) in the box and it will cost you an extra $49.99.
The Surface 3 will start at $499 for the base configuration with 2GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. Microsoft will also offer a Surface 3 LTE that starts at $599. The Surface 3 will of course run the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 and comes with a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal and 1TB of OneDrive storage. Likewise, you’ll receive a free upgrade to Windows 10 one it arrives this summer.
Pre-orders for the Surface 3 being today and the tablet will be widely available beginning May 5.