(CNNMoney) – Microsoft has unveiled the Surface 3, a slimmer, smaller and less expensive version of its sudden success, the ‘Surface Pro 3 PC-tablet’.
The Surface fills the gadget gap between laptops and tablets. Nowadays tablets are great because they are easy to carry around, they are good for reading and watching videos, but they are not ideal for work. Laptops are designed to work, but you wouldn’t want to read a book on them. The Surface is a laptop that looks and works like a tablet.
But the Surface Pro 3 costs $ 799, and that price doesn’t include a keyboard. Add a Bluetooth keyboard and stylus, and you have a machine in front of you worth about $ 1,000.
With the Surface 3, Microsoft set out to make a similar tablet at a more attractive price point for students, parents, and traveling professionals.
Here’s what you need to know about the new Surface 3:
1. It costs $ 499
That’s a pretty good price for a personal computer that comes with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. But that doesn’t include the $ 129 keyboard (unless you already have a Surface keyboard lying around, the total price is $ 628).
“The Surface Pro 3 is a product that people know and love,” said Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Surface team leader, in an exclusive interview with CNNMoney. “When we were developing the Surface 3, it was a question of ‘How do we give all of that to people but do we get it to more people?'”
A luxury Surface 3 is available for $ 599, which comes with double the RAM and storage. You can also add 4G-LTE wireless connectivity for an additional $ 100.
Currently, you can already place your order for a Surface 3 and it will go on sale on May 5.
2. The keyboards are super bright
To stay true to Microsoft’s target student audience, the keyboards come in some bright, trendy colors geared toward a younger generation. They come in bright tomato red, dark wine, sky blue and purple colors. Those colors are in addition to the slate gray and dark blue that professionals like.
3. Weighs more than an iPad Air and less than the new MacBook
The Surface 3 weighs 0.64 kilos. Even with a ‘type cover’, the new Surface weighs less than 0.9 kilos.
It’s super thin too: at just 0.9 centimeters it’s slightly thicker than an iPad Air.
4. Works with Windows 8.1 and can be upgraded to Windows 10
Unlike previous non-professional versions of the Surface, the Surface 3 runs the full version of Windows, which means it can run all the software you’re used to using on a personal computer.
“It has to run everything … even if it’s iTunes or Chrome,” said Panay. “You will feel good because you will have everything you need when you buy this product.”
5. It has a processor designed for mobile devices
The original Surface RT and Surface 2 were powered by smartphone processors made by Nvidia (NVDA, Tech30). That made them a bit slow, but more importantly, they didn’t have the ability to run the full version of Windows.
The Surface 3 is powered by an Intel chip (INTC, Tech30) designed for luxury tablets called the Atom x7. The advantages of the change are twofold: a full version of Windows (see # 3) and a mix of power and battery efficiency, which you would expect to receive from a mobile processor.
6. It has a 10.8-inch screen.
Although similar to the Surface Pro 3 (differs from previous versions of the Surface), the Surface 3’s display has a 3: 2 aspect ratio. That makes it slightly less than ideal for watching HD video, but much better for reading and writing when held upright.
7. Use the same connector that is used to charge your smartphone
The Surface 3 forgoes the magnetic charger that other Surfaces sported and instead features a micro-USB port that all non-Apple mobile devices use for charging.
Panay said that micro-USB was one of the features customers were looking for the most.
8. It has a bracket that fits in three different positions
The support of the Surface is one of its most prominent features, and this improvement in each version. The Surface 3 expands the number of positions to three: desktop, lap and sofa.
It’s not as useful as the “continuous hinge” where you choose any angle on the Surface Pro 3, but it is more versatile than the one or two position that came with previous Surfaces.
9. Has a pen
The Surface pen works on both the Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3. Its weight and thickness are nice, and although you can’t store it in the device, the trade-off is that it is much more useful than a stylus.
Among other tasks, the pen can be used to write, take a screenshot, highlight text, and open the One Note app.
10. It has two high definition cameras
The 8-megapixel rear camera and 3.5-megapixel front camera have the ability to record HD 1080p videos.
11. Its battery lasts 10 hours
Battery life is difficult to measure, but Microsoft says the Surface battery should last you a full day of normal use. Microsoft claims the battery is big enough to let you watch 10 hours of video on a single charge.