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Microsoft Thinks There Aren’t Enough $500 Windows 8 Tablets in the World

They must think that, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about the Surface 3 tablet which launched today.

Microsoft’s new "entry-level" Surface 3 tablet runs a full Windows 8 on an Intel Cherry Trail CPU and costs more than other device makers' premium models (Dell, for example).

surface microsoft 3

Basically a trimmed down Surface Pro 3, the Surface 3 has a 10.8″ display (1920 x 1280 screen resolution) and ships with 2GB RAM and 64GB storage for $499. You can double the RAM and storage for an additional $100, and if you don’t mind waiting Microsoft plans to release models with LTE at some point in the future.

The Surface 3 is smaller and less powerful than the Surface Pro 3, but it has many design details in common. The new tablet has the same 3 position kickstand as on its predeccessor, and it also has the same 3:2 screen geometry which MS first tried on the Surface Pro 3.

surface microsoft 3

The Surface 3 supports Microsoft’s Type Cover keyboard covers, and  the Surface Pen for pressure-sensitive writing or drawing, although of course existing covers won’t work with the new screen size.

It’s only launching today, so there aren’t any detailed hands on reports, but Engadget and TechCrunch each got to spend a few minutes with the Surface 3.  They sounded impressed with the design, and so am I.

This tablet isn’t a hugely better deal that its immediate competitors, but it does have points in its favor, including an optional pressure sensitive stylus and (I’m assuming) a bloatware-free version of Windows 8.1.

This is the first Surface tablet I could imagine getting. Unlike the Surface 2, the new tablet runs both Windows 8 software and legacy software. What’s more, this tablet has all the style of the Surface 3 Pro without the ridiculously large price tag.


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Paul Biba March 31, 2015 um 11:51 am

Minor correction: the kickstand on the Surface Pro 3 is infinitely adjustable, not 3 position (that was on the Surface 2).

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2015 um 11:58 am


jjj March 31, 2015 um 12:11 pm

You can easily buy better convertibles for a lot less.

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2015 um 12:18 pm

Better? There are cheaper ones, yes, but are those other devices as powerful?

jjj March 31, 2015 um 12:19 pm

It’s Atom based, new Atom but Atom.

jjj March 31, 2015 um 12:32 pm

Sorry for the comment spam but w/o editing i can’t do much about it.
The SoC seems to be Atom x7-Z8700 , so sure a new 14nm part but don’t expect much.
The only benchmark i’ve spotted for it is
Yeah i am being mean and compared it with the Galaxy S6 to make it look bad and that benchmark could be on early software and maybe final perf is better ( or even a lot better) but i just don’t have any other numbers for it at this point.

jjj March 31, 2015 um 12:18 pm

In fact if you factor in the 130$ price tag for the keyboard (leading to 630$ total), you can find alternatives at half the price .

trytr March 31, 2015 um 12:18 pm

This device has pretty nice specs but is too expensive, especially here (the small model has been announced for 599 EUR, the larger one for 719 EUR, though including VAT). Looks like waiting for the second-hand market would be the most reasonable thing to do. Good to see tech getting better, though. We’ll eventually get rid of noisy fans everywhere, I hope.

Lynne Connolly March 31, 2015 um 12:23 pm

When the Surface 3 Pro came out, manufacturers heavily discounted the Surface Pro 2. That’s when I got one for about the same price the new Surface is selling for. I got 8 gb of RAM, an i5 processor and 256 gb of storage. While I love the improvements they brought in with the Surface 3, it wasn’t compelling enough for me to trade in my Pro 2.
Before that I had an Asus Book T100. But it was never enough, and it wasn’t particularly fun to work on. The keyboard was lovely, but it was all so – plasticky. Obviously slower, too. I’d call it adequate. It’s a great little budget tablet combo, if you don’t expect too much.
The Surface Pro 2 is solidly built, and a pleasure to handle. It does what I need it to do. But I’d definitely consider the new Surface 3 if I didn’t have the Pro 2.

fjtorres March 31, 2015 um 1:16 pm

The case is magnesium and, lets face it, the model to get is the up-sell 4GB/128 model at $599. Most of the competition runs 2/32 or 2/64 but for actual productivity Tablets you really want the 4GB RAM.
For media consumption and casual gaming, yes, you’re better off with something like the $250 ASUS Transformer and sticking in a 64Gb SD card. (Or some generic Droid or a Fire) but you don’t get the pen and you don’t get the RAM and you don’t get that sweet casing.

It’s a $100 more than I expected/hope but unless the OEMs step up their game, the Surface 3 (4/128)looks to be my next toy. Now to see if the LTE-ready option is priced reasonably for my limited uses.

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2015 um 1:29 pm

I’d want 8GB, actually.

I see 2GB RAM as being enough for an accessory but not a work computer. (Although a Chromebook could prove me wrong; I don’t know how well it manages memory.)

fjtorres March 31, 2015 um 1:42 pm

Me, too. But the price would ballon (at least another $100, maybe 2) and at that point I might as well go for the Surface Pro.

What I like is the balance of size, features, and price.
(The memory bandwidth beats the other Atom processors by a lot, btw.)

I’m not going to pre-order or anything, just yet, to see if ASUS cooks up a newer transformer or if somebody else does something interesting with those new atoms but the thing charges off USB. That is plenty cool. And it has more than one port, too. . 🙂

Paul March 31, 2015 um 2:15 pm

Isn’t the main point that Windows RT is dead with this release? As its running on an atom chip? Or am I mistaken?

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2015 um 2:24 pm

WinRT is dead, yes.

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