For anyone who wants a tablet gutsy enough to let you peruse digital content (from newsfeeds to video production) without eye strain, Microsoft’s revived Surface 3 might be your baby.
Joining Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 as an entry-level machine, Surface 3 has, thankfully, ditched the RT operating system (which, as a cut down version of Windows 8, had too many compatibility problems with too many standard full Windows apps). In its place is Windows 8.1 (it’ll receive Windows 10 later), and the Surface 3 also (like the Pro 3) boasts an Intel Atom x7 quad-core processor instead of a smartphone-class processor. That’s the same workhorse you’ll find in laptops and desktop PCs.
Thinner and lighter than the Surface 2 (released in 2013), the Surface 3 also comes with a full HD 10.8 inch 1920×1280 res screen. With a ratio of 3:2 (like the Pro3), it’s squarer than the standard 16:9 or 16:10 offerings found on most monitors, laptops, tablets and TVs. The resolution is lower than that offered on competitor tablets from the likes of Apple, Samsung and Sony, but it’s still pretty good and the battery has been substantially improved: it’ll survive up to 10 hours of video playback (according to Microsoft) before throwing in the towel. And unlike those competitors, it comes with a full-sized USB 3.0 port plus a mini DisplayPort if you want to connect to a monitor. An added bonus is the full one-year subscription to Office 365.
Microsoft’s product manager for Windows, Ian Moulster, said:
“The Surface 3 is aimed at students who can take notes directly on the screen, mobile workers who carry both a tablet and laptop, and the family with multi-user support.”
It certainly ticks all of those boxes, and education and business models are also in the pipeline (Microsoft is banking that having full Windows on a cheaper tablet will appeal).
Its two versions pack either 64GB of storage and 2GB of RAM (for £419) or 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM (for £477). Both will hit UK shelves on 7th May.
The revived Surface 3 reflects Microsoft’s sense of where computers are heading: a converge between tablets and laptops. This is a development that could just reboot the PC industry.