In Short

The Surface 3 is Microsoft's third attempt at the Surface (without the Pro) line and heralds a change in direction for the tablet that wants to be your laptop. The first two incarnations ran the now defunct Windows RT operating system while the new Surface runs the full, proper version of Windows 8.1. That means desktop apps like the Surface Pro line and it also means a free upgrade to Windows 10.

The Surface 3 bears striking resemblance to its bigger brother, the Surface Pro 3. Visually it follows the same design language and 3:2 form factor, but it's smaller at 10.8-inches compared to the 12.2-inches of the Surface Pro 3. It's also lower priced, starting at $499 and will be available with optional LTE data support.

The reduction in price and size comes with a reduction in the internal hardware over its bigger brother. The display is a still excellent 1920x1280, and inside there is an Intel Atom CPU, 2 or 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage. And as is traditional for the Surface line, there's an optional type cover keyboard and as with the Pro 3, support for a digital pen. It is also fanless system, with no vents.

The Surface 3 is scheduled to go on sale early May 2015.