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Fancy a smaller, cheaper, just as productive Surface Pro 3? Meet the $499 Surface 3

With full Windows 8.1 software pre-installed, Microsoft’s newest low-end tablet entry looks almost identical to the RT-powered Surface 2… on the outside.

Surface 3

The Surface Mini is dead on hold, long live the Surface 3. Wait, didn’t we already get a third-gen Microsoft-made “laptop replacement”? Well, yes, but that’s a Pro, and this latest model not so much, since it swaps Intel Core processors for Atoms.

Specifically, a Cherry Trail-based Atom X7 Redmond recently brought to light at the Mobile World Congress. Obviously, the raw speed delivered by it isn’t going to match that of the Surface Pro 3, but on the plus side, no noisy fan is required to keep it nice and cool, and battery life may exceed the 12 incher’s otherwise decent numbers.

Speaking of, the non-Pro Surface 3 follows its predecessor’s suit nearly to the letter in the footprint department, with an ever so slightly larger 10.8-inch screen boasting 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution. The aspect ratio this time around is 3:2, not 16:9, as Apple’s iPads receive solid competition from outside the Android ecosystem at last.

Surface 3 kickstand

Now, we’d be lying if we said the Surface 3 doesn’t look familiar, “borrowing” more than a few aesthetic cues from 2013’s RT version. But what’s vital is it manages to gracefully keep bulk in check, with a thinner profile than the Pro 3.

Its standard kickstand isn’t quite ideal, offering just three positions instead of total adjustability, while the optional pens and Type Covers are equally as nice as Pro 3’s dedicated accessories. Too bad even the stylus costs extra, namely $50, and keyboards go for the now customary $130.

Needless to highlight the biggest upgrade sees the inadequate Windows RT software put to rest for good, as “full” 8.1 enters the picture to let you run every app and program the Pro models can handle. Oh, and a timely Win 10 update is predictably guaranteed.

Surface 3 rear

Endowed with 64 GB storage and 2 GB RAM in its most modest configuration, the Microsoft Surface 3 starts at $499 on pre-orders from today, with May 5 saved for deliveries. Twice the ROM and RAM drive the price up 100 bucks, with LTE connectivity added in the mix for another Benjamin.

MicroSD support is offered across the board, alongside a full-sized USB 3.0 hub, mini DisplayPort, micro-USB charging socket, 8 MP rear camera and 3.5 MP front-facing snapper. Bottom line, this might not be a Pro tab per se, but it’s a greatly welcome, long overdue, major Surface 2 revision.

Sources: MicrosoftThe Verge, PC World

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