Microsoft’s new Surface is smaller, lighter and cheaper

Microsoft today announced the Surface 3, a smaller, lighter and cheaper version of the Surface Pro 3 two-in-one. While Microsoft has returned to the 10.8-inch screen-size used by the original Surface and the Surface 2, it's now manufactured using a 3:2 aspect ratio (with a resolution of 1920×1280 pixels) to improve usability as a tablet.

The Surface 3 is powered by a brand new 1.6Ghz Intel Atom x7 processor, and will be available in variants with both 2GB and 4GB of RAM. The hybrid device runs the full version of Windows 8.1, will be upgradeable to Windows 10 for free, and includes a free one-year subscription to Office 365 personal edition.

Microsoft's use of Intel's new processor has allowed for a thinner and lighter fanless design, measuring in at 8.7mm and weighing 622g. It's not quite as light as an iPad Air, but the Surface 3 is almost 200g lighter than its Pro variant. 

"Surface 3 brings what customers love about Surface Pro 3 to more people, delivering the premium design and productivity of Surface in a more affordable device," said Panos Panay, corporate vice president, Microsoft Surface. "We’ve taken everything we learned making Surface Pro 3 and poured that innovation into this newest Surface."

The Surface 3 can be pre-ordered as of today via Microsoft's online store. The 64GB model with 2GB of RAM retails for AUD$699 and a 128GB model with 4GB of RAM that is priced at AUD$839. These will be available from May 5.

4G-enabled LTE models will be available later this year and will cost AUD$839 for 64GB and AUD$979 for 128GB.

The Surface Type Cover and Surface Pen are both sold separately, and will retail for AUD$179.99 and AUD$59.99. As such, users wanting the complete Surface experience will have to fork out almost AUD$240 on top of the tablet's unit price.

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