Microsoft Surface 3 Makes A Welcome Transformation Into A Very Portable PC – Forbes

Don’t let its appearance fool you.  Microsoft’s Microsoft’s entry-level tablet is a PC.

Microsoft tried in vain to make the original Surface and the Surface 2 a pure tablet, replete with a new mobile operating system. That didn’t work out after two generations of losing buckets of money.

Mostly because consumers were confused about Windows RT.  For example, despite being marketed by Microsoft as a tablet that could convert into a PC (by adding a Microsoft-designed keyboard that was an essential accessory), it couldn’t run the large universe of applications that typically run on Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

With Surface 3, that was neatly solved by replacing the Nvida ARM processor with an Intel Intel x86 processor. Presto, a PC that looks and feels like a tablet.  And nothing suffered as a consequence. The Surface 3 is in fact lighter than the Surface 2, still fanless, and plenty fast enough.

In fact, it’s really just a cheaper version (starting at $499) of the Surface Pro 3 (starting at $799) — the latter a full-fledged PC in tablet clothing. “My general observation of the Surface 3 it is that it is essentially a scaled-back Surface Pro 3. Not as big, not as powerful, but not as expensive either, which has been one of the biggest knocks against the Pro 3,” said Matt Altmetz, a tablet analyst at market researcher Gap Gap Intelligence, in response to an email query.

And its docking station — which I sampled, along with the Surface 3,  at a Los Angeles Microsoft store — makes it even more like a PC.

“The optional docking station is a nice touch for those users wanting to shift back and forth between a highly mobile, slate form to a fully configured PC, with a full-sized keyboard and a separate monitor,” said Rhoda Alexander, a tablet analyst at IHS IHS Technology.

During my brief hands-on with the tablet, it felt fast, certainly lighter than the Pro 3, and the display was excellent, as always (Microsoft obviously selects its display vendors very carefully).

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