Microsoft has announced today the Surface 3, a new low-cost addition to the Surface brand that runs the full version of Windows and start at $499. The device is open for pre-orders starting today and will be sold in 26 markets starting in May.

The tablet, with a 10.8in display running at 1920x1280 (3:2) is a fanless machine with up to ten hours of battery life. Under the glass is Intel's latest Atom processor, the x7-Z8700 processor (Cherry Trail) (2MB cache, 1.6 GHz with Intel Burst™ technology up to 2.4 GHz) and Microsoft says that this is the first device to market using this chip.

The device is available for pre-order starting today and it will be generally available starting on May 5th.

To no surprise, seeing as Windows 10 has not hit RTM yet, the device runs Windows 8.1 out of the box but will be upgraded to Windows 10 once the OS has been finalized.

With a starting price of $499, Microsoft is making a play for the entry level consumer who wants a high quality machine. Seeing as the device features that same build quality as the Pro 3, it should be a competent machine for the price. But, as with every Surface, this device does not come with a Type cover nor does the Surface 3 include a pen. The Type cover, which has been updated for this model and you can read about it here (post coming soon), costs $129 and the pen is $49. If you are planning on buying the Surface 3, it's important to keep this in mind as the Type cover is an essential accessory and the pen is highly recommended as well.

There are four models available for preoder and the configurations are as follows:

  • $499: 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage
  • $599: 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage
  • $599: 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage with LTE
  • $699: 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage with LTE

For a full breakdown of specs, take a look at the chart below.

Surface 3
Operating System Windows 8.1
Storage 64GB, 128GB
Pen Input Yes, Pen sold seperatly
Display 10.8in ClearType
214 PPI
10-Point multi-touch
Processor Quad-core Intel® Atom™ x7-Z8700 processor
1.6 GHz with Intel Burst™ technology up to 2.4 GHz
Audio Stereo speakers with Dolby® Audio-enhanced sound
RAM 2GB, 4GB
Wi-FI

(802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)

Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 low energy
Camera 3.5 megapixel 1080p front-facing camera

8.0 megapixel 1080p rear-facing camera with auto-focus

Ports

USB 3.0 x 1, Mini DisplayPort x 1, microUSB card reader, headphone

Sensors Ambient light
Proximity
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Digital compass
Battery Up to 10 hours of video-playback battery life
Power Supply 13W Micro USB power supply, charges via MicroUSB
LTE Model Only GPS, Assisted GPS and GLONASS
Size & Weight

10.51 x 7.36 x 0.34 inches (267 x 187 x 8.7 millimeters)

1.37 pounds (622 grams)

Software One-year subscription to Office 365 Personal

Microsoft said that if you have any of the Surface keyboard covers, they will work with this device. Although, if you have a Pro 3, the keyboard cover will be larger than the display and if you have a Surface 2 cover, it will be smaller than the display. This is because Microsoft introduced a new screen size with the device but the pen for your Pro 3 will work on this machine.

One interesting thing to point out is that the Surface 3 drops Microsoft's magnetic charger for a more conventional micro USB connection. This means that you can charge the device from any standard USB port, albeit more slowly than the dedicated charger as most USB ports do not support 13W output.

This device, from a pricing perspective, replaces the Surface 2 that was phased out a few months back. While adding in all the essential accessories does run the price up, it's important to remember that this is not a plastic machine but a fully functional tablet and is built with premium materials just like the Pro version. With that being said, $677+tax for the complete package (Surface 3+Type cover+pen) is far from an impulse purchase but does offer a lot of value for the money.

If you are on the fence about purchasing the device, our review unit should be arriving soon and much like we did with the Pro 3, we will do a highlight of all the features ahead of the tablet's release, so you will know exactly what to expect before making your buying decision.

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