Surface 3 has arrived, and here are all the details

surface3 1Microsoft has just announced a new member of the Surface family, and it’s aimed to be a big successor to the Surface 2 but it’s actually a lot more like the Surface Pro 3. Surface 3 is basically a low cost Surface Pro 3 which brings Microsoft’s mantra of productivity to a much wider audience and is aimed to effectively replace your laptop.

A Lower cost Surface Pro 3

When you first lay your eyes on this device, it looks nearly identical to the Surface Pro 3, with the 3:2 screen aspect ratio, Windows logo on the right side of the device (in portrait mode) and a magnetic strip at the base of the keyboard giving it that sturdiness when using it to type on your lap that we’ve come to love about the Surface Pro 3. There’s also an addition of a Surface Pen and a new track-pad which look identical to that of the Surface Pro 3 offering.

So What’s Different?

Screen

Upon a closer look, you’ll begin to see where it loses its “PRO” title. First off, the screen is much smaller coming in a 10.8” when comparing to the Surface Pro 3’s 12-inch display, and tops out at 1920×1280 (3:2) which puts it at 214PPI. In comparison, the Surface Pro 3 sports a 2160×1440 display which is much sharper, but due to being larger at 12-inches its pixel density is nearly identical at 216PPI. Both use the same Clear-Type technology in their respective displays, so you know the color output will be fantastic.

The 3:2 aspect ratio is a good departure from the 16:9 aspect ratio on the Surface 2 which made it backward to use in portrait mode.

Camera

Surface 3 will have a 3.5 megapixel 1080p front-facing camera and an 8.0 megapixel 1080p rear-facing camera with auto-focus.

Hardware

Surface 3 has some notable improvements compared to the Surface 2, one of them is the kickstand which gets better with every iteration of the Surface devices. Surface RT had one kickstand position, Surface 2 had two positions, and Surface 3 has…wait for it….three! The third position will angle it pretty low and is probably more than enough for a device in its class. We have to say that we’re surprised Microsoft didn’t build the same kickstand technology in the Surface Pro 3 – but this is where the cost cutting comes into effect.

surface 3 kickstandSurface 3 has a shiny new steel looking logo. Yes, and it’s not a Surface logo, it’s a Microsoft logo. This is an important shift for the company going forward as it begins to consolidate all of its brands under One “roof”, further enforcing the “One Microsoft” vision and it’s a vital step in building the Microsoft brand. This is something that will be happening with more devices from Microsoft.

surface 3 rearFanless but still a PC

Looking at Surface 3 more closely reveals an important factor, and that’s the absence of the air vents around the device due to it being fanless, and because of this, it officially earns the title of being the thinnest and lightest Surface model ever made at 8.7mm and 622grams (1.37lbs). Surface 2 measured in at 8.89mm thick and weighed 676 grams.

The absence of a cooling fan in the Surface 3 is due to a new chip-set which is a first of its design and the latest mobile system on a chip (SoC), the “Cherry Trail” Atom x7. Don’t be alarmed that it’s an Atom-bases processor because this chip-set is supposed to offer great performance.

Microsoft chose to opt-out of using the Core-M processor which many ultra-portable machines are starting to use these days and they say it’s for a good reason. According to Thurrot.com, this new chip-set offers much better battery performance than its Core-M counterpart and because it’s so tiny, the device can be even thinner and lighter than what’s possible with Core-M.

Ports

This area is pretty much the same as the Surface Pro 3 which features all of the essential ports you’d expect on an Ultrabook PC. It comes with a full-sized USB 3.0 slot, a mini DisplayPort for Video Out, a headset jack, and of course a micro SD card slot under the kickstand.

surface 3 chargerHowever, this time around the power jack uses a micro-USB type connector for which plugs in to the device. This is a really big change because you can now use pretty much any micro-USB charger to charge the device if you forget to bring the official Surface version. One thing to note is that the one Microsoft provides with the Surface 3 will be more powerful than your typical charger, but they’ll still get the job done…just a little slower.

Type Cover

There will be a new Type cover keyboard, obviously now that the aspect ratio is different and for improvement reasons. This new type cover will support the dual positions with the use of the magnetic strip at the base of the keyboard just like the Surface Pro 3’s keyboard. The track-pad is also vastly improved when comparing to the Surface 2’s Type cover track-pad and will be made out of the same material as the one on the Surface Pro 3. It’s also supposed to be more accurate than the one on the Surface Pro 3, which is intriguing.

surface 3 keyboard

For those of you curious, yes, older Surface keyboards will work with the Surface 3 and even the larger type covers used on the Surface Pro 3 will too. However, they won’t be as aesthetically pleasing to the eye with a size difference.

Color options are as always fantastic, as this time around there will be an extra two colors to choose from. Light blue and light orange are the new colors and there will of course be the traditional options such as black, cyan, red and purple.

Oh, and a Type cover keyboard will as usual come at a separate cost of $129.99. Nothing new here.

Surface Pen

surface 3 penMicrosoft is doing something new with this line of non-pro Surface devices, and that including the functionality of a Surface Pen and of course giving you the option to buy one separately for an additional $49.99.

Although they will come in different colors to match the new type cover keyboards, it’s identically the same pen that’s included with the purchase of the Surface Pro 3.

 

 

 

 

Docking Station

surface 3 docking station2As if that isn’t enough, Microsoft will also have a new docking station ready build specifically for this device. It looks pretty much identical to the one for the Surface Pro 3 and will give you an extra mini Display Port, an Ethernet port and four USB ports (two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0). It’l also charge the Surface 3 continuously with a 48W wall charger. Microsoft hasn’t mentioned the price for the docking station but we expect it to cost the same as the one for the Surface Pro 3 which goes for $199.99.

surface 3 docking station1Pricing & availability

Surface 3 is currently available for pre-order in 26 markets with shipping dates slated for May 5th at microsoftstore.com. Additionally, on April 1st all Microsoft retail stores will have Surface 3 devices on hand to try out.

  • $499: 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage
  • $599: 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage
  • $599: 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage with LTE
  • $699: 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage with LTE

Type Cover $129.99

Surface Pen $49.99

Should you buy a Surface 3?

The Surface Line of devices are how Microsoft wants to represent Windows and are what they consider the perfect blend of hardware and software. When it comes to hardware and design, there’s no question about it, these line of devices have proven time and time again to excel in build quality and have become design icons. Nothing has changed in this regard, which is a good thing. Microsoft is committed to Surface and has been incredible at supporting them, which is something that that you get when you buy from the mother-ship.

These are the things you can expect when you buy a Surface device, and if you choose to do so, the pricing can get a little tricky. If you go all out and buy the top of the line version with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage with the LTE option, a keyboard and Pen, it would cost you $880. Choosing to opt out of the LTE feature will drop the price to $780. When you consider this, it’s actually very close to the price of an entry level Surface Pro 3 which will give you a more powerful CPU, and a larger screen. It’s definitely something to consider.

Either way, Surface 3 has a place in the market and we definitely think it’s a smart move on Microsoft’s part to pitch it as a laptop replacement and offer it at lower price points than the Pro models. This opens up the doors to a much wider audience. A new lower spec’d Surface can be a hit amongst students and people not willing to drop $1,000 on a laptop, while retaining the iconic design and build quality associated with the Surface line of devices. This is what the Surface 2 should have been, but it took three tries to get it right with Surface Pro, so why not three tries with its younger brother.

Microsoft to announce a successor to the Surface 2 very soon (details here)

microsoft-surface-2-vp-panos-panayMicrosoft has been quiet about the successor to the Surface 2 and many have speculated that the software giant will most likely focus on the successful Surface Pro series in the meantime. However, a report by WinBeta claims that Microsoft has plans to release a Surface device aimed at a lower price point but one that is much more than a successor to the Surface 2, while not being  in the same league as the Surface Pro 3.

The reason why it would be much more than a successor to the Surface 2 which ran Windows RT, is that this time it’ll run a full-blown version of Windows 8.1, which will be upgradable to Windows 10 as it’s released to the market. It’ll be fanless but will have lower spec’d CPU than the Surface Pro 3, which will either be an Intel Atom or the Intel Core M (the latter is used in the new MacBook revealed at Apple’s Spring Forward event and is starting to become a popular choice for ultra-portables.)

WinBeta reports that Microsoft is expected to announce this new Surface device sometime before or at their annual Build developer conference in late April and the company will not be labeling it as a Pro device.

Surface Pro 3 has been a very successful product for Microsoft, both with businesses and consumers, and has single-handily changed the perception of Microsoft as a hardware company. It’s also earned Microsoft a lot of of respect in the industry with such a feat of engineering, and we’ve seen many hardware vendors trying to duplicate the Surface Pro 3’s success.

However, the Surface Pro 3 is a very expensive device, and this limits it to a niche audience. If Microsoft comes in with a cheaper Surface device – presumably with a 10-12 inch screen, and one that runs a full-blown version of Windows 8.1, they’ll automatically open themselves up to a much wider audience. This new lower spec’d Surface can be a hit amongst students and people not willing to drop $1,000 on a laptop, while retaining the iconic design and build quality associated with the Surface line of devices.

This will be a tremendous year for Microsoft in both the hardware and software space, with Windows 10, a slew of Windows Phones, new Surface models (both Pro and non-pro), the new Surface Hub and HoloLens, this makes it the biggest product year in the history of the company.

Source: WinBeta

What will happen to Windows on ARM?

surface 2

According to Mary Jo Foley, one of her sources has tipped her that Microsoft may be moving away from building new ARM powered Surface devices and will focus on Intel based Surfaces. We’ve also heard today from Satya Nadella that Microsoft is very committed to the Surface business, and will moving forward full steam ahead in bringing more accessories and has confirmed that Microsoft is indeed working on a new Surface Pro.

However, Nadella didn’t mention ARM-based devices, and with Mary Jo’s recent report these two pieces of information go hand-in-hand. If Microsoft chooses to do away with ARM chipsets, it doesn’t rule out the possibility that they aren’t working on a Surface 2 successor with a 10.6″ screen, as they could choose to go with Intel’s Atom chipset which would run fan-less and give users the ability to run desktop apps on an entry-level Surface device.

We expect Microsoft to clarify their position on whether they’ll continue with ARM devices or use an Intel chipset, or perhaps even scrap smaller Surface in favor of the Pro devices.  We doubt that’s the case, as an entry-level Surface which is capable or running full Windows is crucial for Microsoft as it enables them to target lower price-points with such high quality devices.

The confusion over whether Surface RT devices run desktop apps still exists with consumers, and if Microsoft can just have all devices run full Windows the message would be much clearer and would give them a compelling offering that no other platform could offer in a tablet.

With Windows 10 arriving in the spring/summer of 2015, Microsoft is rumored to allow more than just modern-styled universal apps in the Windows store – they didn’t offer more information on that particular subject however.  Modern store apps will also be optimized to run in Windowed environment on the desktop and possibly enhanced even further to work more efficiently for desktop users. These modern apps and the additional types of apps (most likely Microsoft certified desktop applications) will still be “sandboxed” or in the case of desktop apps they’ll have to be approved by Microsoft abiding by strict guidelines.  With this in mind, Windows RT becomes less relevant for Microsoft in the future and a full Windows experience on Intel chipsets makes plenty more sense if it spans across less expensive and smaller  Surface devices.

Leak/Rumor: Microsoft to launch Surface 3 and Surface Mini by December

surface_night_shotMicrosoft’s line of productivity tablet-laptop hybrids is about to get an update later this year, according to a recent tweet by TK News who are generally considered a credible source for leaks.

According to TK’s sources, Microsoft will launch Surface 3 and Surface Mini before the holiday season. Surface 3 will be the more affordable counterpart to the somewhat pricy Surface Pro 3 released this May. We expect this device to be thinner, lighter and more powerful than its predecessor Surface 2. The new tablet is also expected to come with the Surface Pen and the multi stage kickstand.

The company is also set to release a “limited supply” of Surface Mini devices – likely to clear stock that was initially built up for the May release alongside Surface Pro 3, but this plan was scrapped last minute by Satya Nadella and Stephen Elop who, according to many reports, did not feel confident launching the Mini at that time. Surface Mini is expected to be 8 inches and also come with the Surface Pen as it was dubbed the “note-taking device” earlier this year when it was first rumored online.

This is certainly exciting news for the Surface as the new Pro 3 has gained a lot of traction in the market and adding these new options for consumers will help Microsoft take some of the market share in this segment of devices.

Source: TK News

Microsoft to launch new 10.6" Windows RT tablet this October

surface 2

According to Digitimes, Microsoft will be launching a 10.6″ tablet which will be thinner and lighter than the current Surface 2.  This new device is expected to run on Windows RT and be the successor to the Surface 2. Digitimes claims the leaked information comes from Pegatron which is the Taiwan-Based Surface manufacturer.

The new tablet will also feature a new kickstand and support for the Surface Pen. It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft’s new slimmer design will impact the full sized USB port, as one of the things that held the Surface 2 back in achieving a thinner body was due to the fact that a standard USB port wouldn’t physically be possible. Microsoft’s tablets are advertised as being productive machines rather than typical media consumption devices, therefore a USB port is necessary. Microsoft may possibly still include a mini USB 3.0 port to accommodate the needs for productivity focus.

Windows RT has evolved significantly since its inception, and with Windows Threshold rumored to be combing in the first half of 2015, it is set to evolve much more. This is an important offering that Microsoft must have to battle the low-cost Chromebook and offer a high-quality Windows experience to the masses, despite not being able to install desktop applications.

Google Chromebook has seen success in the education segment and Microsoft having a high-quality offering of their own can help them win over this segment as these types of locked-down productivity machines have proven to be the best solution for students.

Microsoft will unify the Windows and Windows Phone Stores in their next major release of Windows, and universal apps are already in full effect. With these improvements and the amount of apps there are now in the Windows Store, Windows RT may finally shine – and a free copy of Microsoft Office that comes with it, is always a big plus.

Although nothing is official and Digitmes is known to be wrong sometimes, Microsoft hasn’t missed a late-year launch with Surface since the creation of the tablet.

Source: Digitimes

Microsoft to launch new 10.6" Windows RT tablet this October

surface 2

According to Digitimes, Microsoft will be launching a 10.6″ tablet which will be thinner and lighter than the current Surface 2.  This new device is expected to run on Windows RT and be the successor to the Surface 2. Digitimes claims the leaked information comes from Pegatron which is the Taiwan-Based Surface manufacturer.

The new tablet will also feature a new kickstand and support for the Surface Pen. It’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft’s new slimmer design will impact the full sized USB port, as one of the things that held the Surface 2 back in achieving a thinner body was due to the fact that a standard USB port wouldn’t physically be possible. Microsoft’s tablets are advertised as being productive machines rather than typical media consumption devices, therefore a USB port is necessary. Microsoft may possibly still include a mini USB 3.0 port to accommodate the needs for productivity focus.

Windows RT has evolved significantly since its inception, and with Windows Threshold rumored to be combing in the first half of 2015, it is set to evolve much more. This is an important offering that Microsoft must have to battle the low-cost Chromebook and offer a high-quality Windows experience to the masses, despite not being able to install desktop applications.

Google Chromebook has seen success in the education segment and Microsoft having a high-quality offering of their own can help them win over this segment as these types of locked-down productivity machines have proven to be the best solution for students.

Microsoft will unify the Windows and Windows Phone Stores in their next major release of Windows, and universal apps are already in full effect. With these improvements and the amount of apps there are now in the Windows Store, Windows RT may finally shine – and a free copy of Microsoft Office that comes with it, is always a big plus.

Although nothing is official and Digitmes is known to be wrong sometimes, Microsoft hasn’t missed a late-year launch with Surface since the creation of the tablet.

Source: Digitimes