IT Pro Verdict
The Microsoft Surface 3 is comfortably the best of the lower-cost Surface hybrids to date. The sum of improvements made to the hardware, both in the tablet part and the keyboard, and full Windows 8.1’s flexibility make it a very workable portable companion to a more powerful desk-bound laptop or desktop.
Good screen quality; greatbattery life; strong removable keyboard
Low CPU and storage performance; limited RAM; Fiddly to use on lap
The Microsoft Surface 3 is a natural, successful evolution of hybrid laptops that were, with hindsight, failures. Where the original Surface RT and Surface 2 were crammed into a restrictive mould by Windows RT, the Surface 3 runs full Windows 8.1.
With this software on-board the Surface 3 is limited only by the Intel Atom CPU. Unusual as the hardware may be, it's a full' laptop at heart, one with the added flexibility of a hybrid design.
Starting at 419 it provides better screen quality than most entry-level laptops too. However, as the optional-but-essential keyboard base increases the price to 529, it represents merely a good deal rather than a great one.
The Microsoft Surface 3's body is similar to that of the Surface Pro 3's, but smaller. Where the Pro model has a 12-inch screen, this one has a 10.8-inch display, and the shrinking process comes with all-round more compact dimensions.
At 622g and 8.7mm thick, it's the slimmest and lightest Surface yet. However, this is not really an achievement if the Surface 3 is thought-of as a tablet. At this point, there are plenty of thinner, lighter rivals. In almost every respect, the hardware only shines when considered a laptop-replacer or a tablet-laptop hybrid.