Microsoft announced a new Surface today, replacing the previous ARM-based, Windows RT toting Surface 2 with the shiny new Surface 3, which riffs on the successful Surface Pro 3 in design and capability, at a reduced scale.
The Surface 3 packs the latest Intel Atom processor and a 4:3 10.8" screen. It supports the same Surface Pen as the SP3 and runs full fat Windows 8.1. Battery life is a reputed 10 hours. The fabulous kickstand of the SP3 has reverted to a three position stand though, which isn't great news.
Still, sounds mostly positive so far.
Until we get to the pricing and then it all goes a bit pear-shaped. The Surface 3 starts at just £419 for the 2GB/64GB combination, which sounds good on paper. Until you look at the big brother SP3, where the entry level version gets you an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, a bigger, higher resolution screen and the real deal in the kickstand, all for just £579.
That's £160 well spent in my book.
Things get substantially worse if you compare the Surface 3 to the latest iPad Air 2, which starts at £399. That gets you about the same amount of storage as the Surface 3, and access to most of the same apps that the Surface will be used to run (email, internet, Office). It's almost half the weight of the Surface 3 and will deliver better battery life, a fingerprint sensor to free you from passwords and has better cameras, a better range of tablet specific software and a wider choice of third-party accessories.
Yes the Surface 3 can morph from tablet to PC, but the weak processor will prevent it running too many heavy desktop apps, and you'll need to fork out a painful £110 for the keyboard accessory.
Being a Microsoft product it's undoubtedly going to be well put together and it looks fabulous, but I can't help thinking that its natural price point is closer to £300 not £400. Unless you must-have the Surface Pen's functionality there are better value Atom hybrids out there.