Microsoft Surface 3: A not-quite-premium-not-quite-budget Windows tablet

Microsoft’s unveiled the latest Surface tablet, but it isn’t the Surface Pro 4, or indeed anything running (eugh) Windows RT. Instead, it’s the mid-range Surface 3, which will sell in Australia for $699.
$699 places it in an interesting position for Windows tablets, because there’s no shortage of existing extremely budget-centric options, but at the same time, the price jump up to the “full” Surface Pro 3 — and presumably, at some point, Surface Pro 4 — isn’t actually that great. So what do you get for your $699?
Unlike the Pro 3’s use of Intel Core processors, the Surface 3 runs on an quad-core Intel Atom x7 processor with a claimed 10 hours of battery life. You don’t get the magnetic charging clasp of the Surface Pro 3, but instead a standard microUSB charging port, which means in theory you could charge it from just about any charger, albeit incredibly slowly. Unlike the Pro 3, the kickstand isn’t adjustable but instead flips out into three different set positions, which feels like a bit of a step backwards, albeit an understandable one. As always, if you want the type cover or other accessories, you’ll pay a bit more again.
Thankfully there’s no sign of Windows RT on the Surface 3, which will instead ship with Windows 8 with the promise of upgradeability to Windows 10 when it ships later this year. That $699 price point buys the base 64GB model with 2GB of RAM, while a 128GB model with 4GB of RAM model will cost $839. There will also be LTE variants available later this year at higher price points, although at that point you really are starting to stretch towards the full functionality of the Surface Pro 3. We’ll have to wait and see how they benchmark to see whether that would be a sensible tradeoff. If you’re particularly keen, you can pre-order one from Microsoft Australia today
In the meantime, here’s the Surface 3’s sizzle reel.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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