Following plenty of rumors that it was in the works, the Surface 3 is here, unveiled by Microsoft on Tuesday. Starting at $499, the Surface 3 is a huge step up from its non-Pro Surface predecessors in that it runs full, 64-bit Windows 8.1, which will be upgradeable to Windows 10 this summer. But it’s got one major drawback that may prevent it from becoming your new portable computer of choice: it’s armed with an Intel Atom x7 processor, making it more of a powerful tablet than a budget computer.
Scheduled to ship on May 5, there are two configurations of Surface 3 available for pre-order today. For $499, you get 64GB of internal storage and only 2GB of RAM, while a hundred dollars more doubles both of those specs. Meanwhile, both iterations of the Surface 3 will be available with optional 4G LTE connectivity for $100 more than their Wi-Fi only counterparts, bringing the most expensive Surface 3 up to $699. None of these price points include the Type Cover Keyboard, sadly. Those are sold separately for $129.
The Surface 3 is also a little smaller than the 12-inch Surface Pro 3, but still bigger than all of the too-small Surface models that were released before 2014. The new devices measures at 10.8 inches, but preserves the Pro 3’s 3:2 aspect ratio, making it roughly the perfect size for laptop computing and hand-held tablet enjoyment. Coupled with the forthcoming Spartan web browser and its many touch-optimized features and Reading List, the Surface 3 might end up being a solid tablet contender.
Additionally, it’ll provide a great test case for the versatility of the Windows 10 platform. Even though the Atom x7 processor isn’t nearly as powerful as those found in most laptops, it may be plenty good for whatever low-intensity tasks the Surface 3 asks of it. Microsoft has made a big deal about how apps developed for Windows 10 will scale to best fit a device’s form factor. The Surface 3 is solidly between Windows Phone devices and full Windows PCs. As such, the Surface 3 ought to show us how well that theory works when put to the test.
Moreover, it looks like Microsoft is planning for Apple’s impending iPad Pro announcement. The Surface 3 looks like it’s the very best tablet Microsoft knows how to make—and it might outdo the iPad Pro on compatibility, performance, and (almost certainly) price.