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Surface 3 tablet announced, starts from $499

Microsoft Surface 3 Tablet front side pen and keyboard
Windows Phone Area

This low-cost Surface tablet could replace your laptop

Microsoft is announcing today a successor to the Surface 2 tablet. The new 10.8-inch model, named Surface 3, can now be pre-ordered via Microsoft Store US, but the actual sales will start simultaneously in 26 markets in early May.

Compared with the old Windows RT-based tablet, Microsoft Surface 3 comes with improved hardware and full Windows 8.1, which means that users could run traditional desktop programs and Windows apps. It starts with Windows 8.1 on board, but is fully upgradable to Windows 10 once it becomes available in late summer / early fall.

Surface 3 is powered by the new Intel Atom x7 processor which has four cores, efficient power management and burst mode for the highest possible performance. The processor doesn’t include a fan, which means the Surface 3 is quieter than all previous Surface Models. Moreover, thanks to improved design, the new model is the lightest (622 gr) and thinnest (267 x 187 x 8.7 millimeters) Surface to date.

The new Surface looks similar to its predecessors, but there are some important differences. Surface 3 has the same magnesium chassis, but a different screen aspect ratio of 3:2 (compared with 16:9 and 10.6-inches for Surface 2).

Microsoft Surface 3 Tablet back

Adjustable kickstand is found on the back allowing you to use the tablet as a laptop, but you need to spend $130 more to buy the optional Type Cover keyboard. The kickstand has limited adjustability and there are only three positions you can use. For comparison, the more premium Surface Pro 3 comes with a fully adjustable stand to position the device exactly how you want. Another optional accessory is the Stylus (costs $50) which is the same as that launched with the Pro version.

Surface 3 offers a display resolution of 1920 x 1280 pixels, up to 10 hours of battery life, 2 or 4 GB of RAM, and 64 or 128 GB internal storage. The cheaper variant with 2 Gigs of RAM and 64 GB storage costs $499 (Wi-Fi) or $599 (WiFi + LTE support). Surface 3 with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage costs $599 or $699 respectively. LTE capable Surface tablets will be coming to US carriers Verizon and T-Mobile in June, while the normal Wi-Fi versions will be available from early May.

Because of the new screen size and ratio, you won’t be able to use an old Surface 2 Type Cover with the Surface 3. There will be also a docking station (no word on price) for the new model, allowing you to connect the tablet to an external monitor.

The Surface 3 will be charged using a standard micro USB cable. Other key features include two cameras (8MP with autofocus on the back and 3.5MP front-facing), Mini Display port, USB 3.0, micro USB card reader and a headphone jack.