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Microsoft Surface 3 – A Buyers Guide and Review

Microsoft Surface 3 review
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Microsoft’s latest hybrid Microsoft Surface 3 is a trimmed down version of Surface Pro 3 and successor to Surface 2. What makes it different from its predecessor is the replacement of ARM processor with quad-core processors and presence of Windows 8.1 as the default OS instead of Windows RT. This way, Microsoft Surface 3 can work like a real laptop than a tablet.

Microsoft Surface 3 Specifications

267x187x9mm dimension
10.8inch screen with screen resolution of 1920×1280-pixeI touchscreen.
Intel Atom x7-8700 quad-core processor
128GB SSD.
Windows 8.1
600g (850g with keyboard)
One-year warranty


Surface 3 comes in a smooth edged magnesium alloy design in silver and black shades. It weighs only 1.37 pounds and is lighter than most popular tablets. This model is one of the best looking tablets in Windows 8.1 market.
Surface 3 comes with an inbuilt stand which can be set to view from three viewing angles. Unfortunately, Surface 3 don’t use the same stand provided with Surface Pro 3 which can be used to view from any desired angle.
A keyboard can be attached to the Surface 3 to use it like a laptop. Remember, it is an accessory which costs around a whopping $130 and not included in the standard package. The keyboard attaches itself to the screen magnetically. You can also use it to cover the screen, when not in use. The keys inside are large and comfortable for any user, even though couple of keys such as the shift keys are smaller than it should be. There is also touchpad which failed to impress. I found out it much easier to use touch screen.


Surface 3 screen
Surface 3 comes in a bright 1920 x 1280 resolution. It packs 213 ppi (pixels per inch). The screen have enough backlight helping it to overcome most glare. Surface 3 has an aspect ratio of 3:2 which is suitable for reading magazines and eBooks. In short, the screen looks brilliant with all the contents displayed at its best. Surface 3 may not have the best screen compared to some of the top models in laptop and tablet category. Considering the lower price tag, this is the best screen that you get from a device.


Surface 3 processing power comes from Intel Atom X7-Z8700 quad core processors. Usually Atom processors are comparatively slow compared and are best suited for tablets and netbooks. But this one is comparatively faster and is almost as fast as an i3 processor. Replacing the ARM processor also enabled Microsoft to replace Windows RT with Windows 8.1. This is good news for potential buyers as they can now use Surface 3 like a normal laptop with portability of tablet.
In the performance tests conducted, Surface 3 performed close to Core i3 processor. With 4GB of RAM, Surface 3 struggled a bit while doing multi-tasking. This frequently led to screen becoming unresponsive while using the touch screen. So, don’t choose the lower priced model which comes with only 2GB RAM unless you are sure not to use any heavy duty software. Creating and editing documents, browsing internet and editing pictures is not a problem, but the performance deteriorated while multi-tasking and using heavy software.
Having small flaws in the performance, it is better to use software and Apps provided by Windows store. If you want to install software’s from outside, check if the optimum hardware configuration needed to run the software satisfies the one that comes with Surface 3.


Surface 3 connections
Surface 3 comes with a full USB 3 port, a microSD memory reader, mini-Display Port and 3.5mm stereo headphone jack. An additional micro USB port is available for recharging battery.


Surface 3 comes with a rear 8MP camera and front facing 3.5MP. The camera is not the best. The images are the best for taking pictures in a well-lit background. But the quality degraded with lot of noice when there is no proper lighting. Microsoft have not included an LED flash which could have helped the situation. In short, the camera is only good enough to take pictures when you don’t have a dedicated camera to capture a moment. Surface 3 camera don’t come handy like the one that come with iPad.
In contrast, the front facing camera is much better. You can take better selfies and do video chat with much better clarity.

Battery life

Surface 3 comes with a 28-watt battery with a reasonably good battery life. In the tests conducted, the battery lasted a little more than 7 hrs. This may not be good enough to beat some of the best brands, but better than Surface Pro 3. The battery is charged using a micro USB connector. You can also use USB power banks to charge the device.


If you are looking for the flexibility to use a device as a laptop and as a tablet, Surface 3 is the answer for you. Surface 3 is a truly multi-purpose device which can be used to edit documents, browse web with Wi-Fi, run applications, take and edit Photos, play games, watch movies etc.

Here is the drawback. The basic model comes around $500 and to have additional features you need to shell out more money. To make it work like a laptop, you need extra accessories such as Keyboard and if you include Stylus pen, the price can go up to $700. Compared to some of the popular models in Tablets and Laptops, Surface 3 is heavier and carry less viewing real estate. At this price tag, you could go for a slim light weight ultrabook like Lenovo Yoga or Asus Zenbook or a tablet like iPad.

I recommend Surface 3 if you are looking for a multi-purpose laptop cum tablet capable of multi-tasking normal functions expected of these devices. However, if you are not looking for a multi-purpose device and shell out money, go for other lesser priced Ultrabook or laptop alternatives.

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About the author: Anup Raman A Tech Enthusiast|Blogger|Tech Trainer with 10+ yrs experience in the field of IT. My expertise are in Operating Systems, mainly Windows and Computer security which comes from my experience, working as Tech Support and Trainer for Microsoft, Symantec and McAfee. Loves blogging about Technical Troubleshooting, discussing latest Gadgets, Games and doing Reviews.

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