When details of this were first announced, I honestly did a double take because the timing of it happened to coincide with April Fools Day here in Australia. After seeing Vin Diesel driving a DeLorean, you would think any prank is possible.
Anyway, it turns out that this is the real deal and it is a genuine alternative to the Surface Pro 3.
Unlike the original Surface (non “Pro”) tablets, it’s now running on an x86 based processor (a quad-core Atom) and a full version of Windows 8.1. With a number of small cheap Windows 8.1 tablets in the market now it would be disastrous for Microsoft not to follow suit. So this is probably the point where we finally say our farewells to Windows RT.
In terms of base specs, anyone who owns an original Surface Pro (like me) might find this an alternative to going all in with the Surface Pro 3. Specs of the high end version (4Gb RAM, 128Gb SSD) put it fairly close to a Surface Pro and you would also benefit from the slightly bigger screen (1920×1280) and much better battery life (up to 10 hours). With prices putting it at least a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than a low spec Surface Pro 3 it might be a great choice for those who are only looking to refresh their hardware and not go the full upgrade.
Visually, it looks like a slightly smaller version of the Surface Pro 3 with a similar design and screen dimensions. It really is the iPad Mini of the Surface series and you could see it selling quite well as for the first time Microsoft have their hardware in a competitive price bracket.
One nice change to the Surface 3 is that the custom charging connector has been replaced with a Micro USB port which should be a less fiddly option for everyone. I’m wondering if that will also expand the ability to charge it from hardware other than just the AC adapter.
Both the pens and detachable keyboards are sold separately. I suppose it is to help keep the price down but the devices really come into their own once you have at least a keyboard so it feels like a bit of suspect marketing.
For those people who may have liked the Surface Pro tablets but were put off by the steep price, this could be a great option for you.
Surface 3 devices begin shipping in May and details of the new hardware can be found here.