Surface, the series of tablets and interactive whiteboards from Microsoft has a new addition to the lineup, the Surface 3. And while it does come with long anticipated changes, do not expect anything too big from them.

The ARMv7 processor is gone, and so is Windows RT (the Win8/8.1 edition designed primarily for tablets). The processor has been replaced by  Intel Atom x7-Z8700- its working SoC and a complete version of Windows 8.1 (with a year subscription of Office 365). A lack of touch-based apps and confusing desktop mode didn’t exactly work in favor of  Windows RT- a failure caught somewhere between an app based platform and Windows Desktop features.

Aesthetically, the device is toeing the line between a tablet and a laptop. On the surface, it looks a lot like Surface 2- the same silver magnesium casing, slightly thinner and weighs slightly less, except for the display- Surface used to have a 10.6-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio; now its got a 0.2 inch boost and a more comfortable 3:2 ratio.

The device, like the Surface Pro 3, supports stylus, the pressure sensitive pen, the same N-trig pen digitizer used in the Pro. Clicking on the top of the pen will open OneNote. If you’re feeling like color coordination is in order, you’ve got options so that the Stylus color matches the Type Covers. Blue, red, black, and silver are available. The adjustable kickstand from Surface Pro 3 is gone, and in its place is a three stage kickstand- to accommodate for the price of the device and its width.

The device starts at $499, with 64GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM, but not accessories. The most recent quarter sales of its predecessor- the SP3 saw increased sales- hinting at improving margins in its hardware. And of course, like any other Win 8.1 device out there, you can get it upgraded to Windows 10 for free when it releases. What remains to be seen is its market performance against low-cost PCs.


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