Microsoft's new Surface 3 is a serious contender to the iPad

Microsoft has been making great strides in the tablet arena over the past few years, with the Surface Pro 3 being the product of this hard work. But there's a problem with the Surface Pro 3 - price. Microsoft is addressing this with the new Surface 3, and finally we have a serious contender to the iPad.

Microsoft has been making great strides in the tablet arena over the past few years, with the Surface Pro 3 being the product of this hard work. But there's a problem with the Surface Pro 3 - price. Microsoft is now addressing this with the new Surface 3, and finally we have a serious contender to the iPad.

By losing the "Pro," the new Surface 3 packs a quad-core 1.6GHz (2.4GHz with turbo boost) Intel Atom x7-Z8700, a USB 3.0 port, a microSD card reader, two cameras (3.5 megapixel front, 8 megapixel rear), and a raft of sensors into a device with a 10.8-inch 1920 x 1280 ClearType Full HD Plus display.

This hardware is powered by Windows 8.1 and a battery that can deliver the goods for 10 hours.

And all this for a starting price tag of $499 for 64GB of storage and 2GB of RAM.

This makes the Surface 3 far more of a tablet for a lot less money than Apple can deliver, and it strikes a good balance between performance and price.

Microsoft currently controls some 5 percent of the overall tablet market, squeezed between the twin titans of Android and iOS. But IDC had forecast that by the end of the decade this would grow to 14 percent, and this prediction was made before the Surface 3 announcement. If Microsoft can maintain the price point pressure the Surface 3 brings to the market, this could turn out to be a very conservative estimate.

The Surface 3 has the potential to be very popular with consumers, BYOD, and small business users (although the biggest drawback here is that it is powered by Windows 8.1 and not Windows 8.1 Pro).

Surface 3 tech specs:

Size 10.52 x 7.36 x 0.34 in (267 x 187 x 8.7 mm)
Weight 1.37 lbs (622 g)
Display 10.8-inch 1920 x 1280 ClearType Full HD Plus Display with 10 point multi-touch and Surface Pen support
Battery life Up to 10 hours
Storage and RAM 64GB storage with 2GB RAM or 128GB storage with 4GB RAM
Processor Quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor (2MB Cache, 1.6GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.4GHz)
Connectivity Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac) and Bluetooth 4.0
Ports Full-size USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, microSD card reader, micro USB charging port, headset jack and cover port
Software Windows 8.1 and 1-year of Office 365 Personal with OneDrive cloud storage
Multimedia 3.5 megapixel front-facing camera, 8.0 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus, microphone, stereo speakers with Dolby audio
Sensors Ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer

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