Surface 3by Microsoft

  • Surface 3
  • Surface 3
  • Surface 3
TECHWALLA
VERDICT
A solid product. Despite some flaws, it's still a good value.
79%
TECHWALLA SCORE
based on the following sites

PROS

  • This isn't your father's entry-level Surface. The Windows RT operating system is gone, replaced with full Windows.
  • The Surface 3 has the stylish design and sturdy build of a tablet or laptop costing significantly more.
  • The built-in kickstand gives the Surface an edge over nearly every other tablet.

CONS

  • Microsoft still charges extra for a keyboard, and there's little point in owning a Surface 3 without one. The much-ballyhooed stylus will run you another $50.
  • The base model comes with limited RAM and storage, and its processor struggles with high-end computing tasks.
  • Even with the keyboard, the Surface 3 feels cramped for long bouts of work, which is the nature of trying to be productive on a small screen.
The Surface 3 is an affordable alternative to the Surface Pro 3 for anyone on a budget. Unlike previous entry-level models, this one runs the full version of Windows, not the stripped-down Windows RT of yester-Surface. The base model starts at a highly competitive $499, but if productivity is your goal, you'll need the pricey add-on keyboard--and possibly some other accessories as well.
NameSurface 3iPad ProSurface Pro 4Surface Pro 3Spectre x2
ManufacturerMicrosoftAppleMicrosoftMicrosoftHP
Techwalla Score
79%
88%
86%
83%
78%
List Price$499$799$999$899$899
92%

The Surface 3 is a beautiful device, it takes a lot of what made the Surface Pro 3 great, and offers it at a fraction of the price. Can it r…

The Surface 3 is a beautiful device, it takes a lot of what made the Surface Pro 3 great, and offers it at a fraction of the price. Can it replace the iPad as a media consumption tablet? Yes, but just barely. Modern, touch-friendly apps are aplenty, but developer interest and support leaves a lot to be desired.

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90%

The Surface 3’s also a vastly better hybrid than the ill-conceived Surface RT line ever was. That’s mostly down to the fact it runs a full, …

The Surface 3’s also a vastly better hybrid than the ill-conceived Surface RT line ever was. That’s mostly down to the fact it runs a full, unlimited version of Windows 8.1, but also because it employs most of things that made the Surface Pro 3 such a great product.

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80%

General computing performance is solid. The Surface 3 feels snappy and handled most things without issue. Light Photoshop duty was fine, as …

General computing performance is solid. The Surface 3 feels snappy and handled most things without issue. Light Photoshop duty was fine, as were standard office duties. It can also support a second screen through the mini DisplayPort – connecting a standard 22in monitor worked well enough, but made the Surface 3 a bit sluggish, as did opening over 15 tabs in Chrome.

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80%

Even the entry-level Surface 3 feels overpriced once you factor in the accessories. If the keyboard was actually good enough to use for long…

Even the entry-level Surface 3 feels overpriced once you factor in the accessories. If the keyboard was actually good enough to use for longer typing sessions then paying almost a quarter of the tablet's cost itself for one would have been easier to swallow.

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80%

A huge improvement over its predecessors, the Surface 3 ($499 to start, $599 as tested) runs full Windows 8.1 on an Intel Atom processor, an…

A huge improvement over its predecessors, the Surface 3 ($499 to start, $599 as tested) runs full Windows 8.1 on an Intel Atom processor, and throws in an eye-popping 10.8-inch, 1920 x 1280-pixel display and a three-point kickstand for good measure. Even the Type Cover keyboard, which still costs $129 extra, has been upgraded and now provides some of the best tactile feedback we've experienced on a mobile device.

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80%

Microsoft made the right call by changing course with the Surface 3, especially if the resulting product is any indication. It’s cheaper tha…

Microsoft made the right call by changing course with the Surface 3, especially if the resulting product is any indication. It’s cheaper than the Pro 3 and has a chipset commonly associated with budget tablets and notebooks, but it’s still a premium device.

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79%

Once again, you'll have to buy one of Microsoft's $130 Type Covers separately if you actually want a keyboard. And, let's face it, there's n…

Once again, you'll have to buy one of Microsoft's $130 Type Covers separately if you actually want a keyboard. And, let's face it, there's no reason why you'd want to buy the Surface without the Type Cover.

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73%

It’s not the "tablet that can replace your laptop" so much as it’s a tablet that wants to be a laptop, and maybe it’s just time Microsoft ma…

It’s not the "tablet that can replace your laptop" so much as it’s a tablet that wants to be a laptop, and maybe it’s just time Microsoft made a Surface laptop. That’s really what the Surface wants to be.

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70%

The Surface line's biggest folly continues well into the series' third generation. Its all-important snap-on keyboard, really the most impre…

The Surface line's biggest folly continues well into the series' third generation. Its all-important snap-on keyboard, really the most impressive thing about the Surface, is still sold separately, and at a premium price.

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70%

The Surface 3 fulfills its mission of providing one small, portable device that can replace two other devices entirely. Yet it costs too muc…

The Surface 3 fulfills its mission of providing one small, portable device that can replace two other devices entirely. Yet it costs too much, and as a result misses half the point of condensing a tablet and a laptop into one.

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70%

All of these prices, however, exclude the $130 Type Cover, a necessity that turns the advertised price into a bit of bait-and-switch. Micros…

All of these prices, however, exclude the $130 Type Cover, a necessity that turns the advertised price into a bit of bait-and-switch. Microsoft will also sell a dedicated Surface 3 docking station for $200. Finally there’s the Surface Pen, a $50 stylus that ships with the Surface Pro 3, but not the Surface 3.

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The total amount of compromise here may actually be a bit less than it is in the Pro 3. The SP3 is a great laptop, but oversized as a tablet…

The total amount of compromise here may actually be a bit less than it is in the Pro 3. The SP3 is a great laptop, but oversized as a tablet. The Surface 3 flips those two things around: it's a smaller laptop than you might be used to, but it also feels much more natural as a tablet.

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So it can feel like laptop “when you need it,” but can it perform as one? Um, actually, yes. Yes it can! There isn’t a dang thing in my regu…

So it can feel like laptop “when you need it,” but can it perform as one? Um, actually, yes. Yes it can! There isn’t a dang thing in my regular Gizmodo work day the Surface 3 wasn’t able to handle. Chat clients? No problem. A couple of dozen active Chrome tabs? Sure.

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What’s immediately clear is that the Surface 3 isn’t a conventional tablet. It’s not obsessed with its silhouette like the ultra thin iPad A…

What’s immediately clear is that the Surface 3 isn’t a conventional tablet. It’s not obsessed with its silhouette like the ultra thin iPad Air 2 or Sony Xperia tablets. It’s thicker width might put some off, but there’s a functional reason for it: a full size USB 3.0 port. Microsoft is unashamed of that, because this Surface range is squarely aimed at productivity enthusiasts.

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