A closer look
After skipping out on Microsoft's last big hardware event, which brought us the Surface Pro 3, the Surface 3 is finally here. Since the Surface 2, a lot has changed with Microsoft's latest tablet, including the screen going from a 16:9 aspect ratio to 3:2, along with that new kickstand and magnetically-latching keyboard.
What's more, Microsoft has ditched Windows RT: the Surface 3 comes running full Windows 8.1. In many ways, the Surface 3 looks like a smaller clone of its Pro-status sibling, but let's take a tour around the new tablet to see what's new.
The new display
The most immediately noticeable change is the Surface 3's new 10.8-inch screen, which takes after the Pro's 3:2 aspect ratio. Sadly Microsoft didn't increase the resolution by much, but everything should look nice and sharp at 1,920 x 1,280.
Kick it out
Similarly, the kickstand has been upgraded, now with three points of articulation. You can now tilt the tablet all the way back to paint on the virtual canvas or more easily use the onscreen keyboard.
The new magnetic keyboard
Just in case you were wondering, the keyboard does indeed magnetize to the front lip of the Surface 3. This extra point of contact helps keep the Type Cover secure especially when you're typing with the device on your lap.
A close look at the type cover
Speaking of the Type Cover, here's a closer look. As you can see, it's pretty much identical to the Surface Pro 3's keyboard accessory, except it's missing that small loop for the Surface Pen.
However, as Microsoft has demonstrated, you can just clip the pen to the Type Cover. Like with the Surface Pro 3, you'll be able to click in the top button on the to launch the OneNote without having to pop into the Start menu or click on a desktop icon.
What's new on the inside
Along with the new Surface Pro 3-inspired exterior, Microsoft has outfitted its latest tablet with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom x7- Z8700, "Cherry Trail" processor. The starting configuration will come with a 64GB solid-state drive and 2GB of RAM, priced at £419 ($499, AU$699). If you want more storage, you'll have to bump up to a £499 ($738, AU$839) configuration to get a 128GB SSD with 4GB of RAM.
Goodbye Windows RT
On the software side, this will be the first Surface tablet to come running a full version of Windows. Unlike Windows RT found in Surface tablets before it, this new model will be able to run PC apps, such as Photoshop Elements, Steam, or any program outside of the "Modern" user interface.
Here's what is on the right side
Now, looking around the sides of the Surface 3 tablet, on the right side you'll find a USB 3.0 port, mini DisplayPort, plus a headphone and microphone combo jack. Thankfully, Microsoft has done away with its proprietary charging connector and gone with a micro USB port.
The overhead view
Up top, you'll find the power button as well as a volume rocker. Compared to the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft made a smart decision moving the volume rocker from the side to the top of the device. This should prevent any accidental volume changes while watching movies and TV shows on the Surface 3.
...and the left side.
On the left side, there isn't much of anything going on without any ports whatsoever. But you can admire the Surface 3's sharp magnesium body, which has been a signature part of the Microsoft's tablet series since it started in 2012.
On the back, it might seem like there's just the kickstand but Microsoft has also hidden the microSD card slot behind the stand.
Notice the new Windows 10 logo, too? The Surface 3 will come with Windows 8.1, but users will be able to upgrade for free when the operating system launches this summer.
Microsoft's thinnest and lightest tablet
Measuring 0.34 inches thick (8.7 mm), the Surface 3 is just a tiny bit thinner than the 0.35-inch Surface 2. More importantly, it weighs in at 1.37 pounds (622 grams), which is noticeably lighter than its 1.49 pound (675 g) predecessor. From our short time with the device, we can easily say Microsoft has made its lightest tablet yet, and the Surface 3 feels no heavier than a pad of paper.