It happens every time a new device is launched. Phone, tablet, laptop, wearable, games console, doesn't matter. There's always the "it's too expensive" argument. It's not necessarily incorrect, but it depends on your point of view.
Comparing to Apple's iPad Air 2
Microsoft is no stranger to comparing its products to those from Apple. Between Redmond and Cupertino the desktop computing world is virtually locked up.
And then there's the iPad.
Whatever your personal feelings towards Apple products there is no denying the impact the iPad had on tablets. And even if sales are slowing down it's still the single biggest selling tablet in the world. In the U.S. the iPad Air 2 starts at $499. As does the Surface 3. We're not going to deep dive into comparing the two tablets in this post, but consider it on face value alone.
16GB of internal storage versus 64GB of internal storage with microSD card expansion in the respective base models from Apple and Microsoft. Not to mention one runs a full desktop OS and has actual standard ports that you can plug things into without needing a special adaptor.
Apple sells a ton of the base level iPads. At the same price, why isn't the Surface 3 an equally, perhaps more enticing device?
What about the accessories you 'need?'
Arguably, if there's a strong case that Microsoft is charging too much for the Surface 3 it's in the accessories and not the tablet. $200 for the Docking Station. $130 for the Type Cover. $50 for the pen. Add these on top of the base model and you're already up to $880. Which is a lot. But do you really, truly 'need' any of those? It's a shame that the Surface 3 doesn't come with a pen included at $500, but it's also conversely not a shame if it would have meant the price of the tablet went up. Not everyone wants a pen.
Question also the need for the Type Cover. Sure, it's a really nice keyboard that also protects the front of the Surface. But unless you're going to use it as a laptop often, what about a lower priced Bluetooth keyboard instead?
Microsoft is guilty of marketing the Surface primarily with the keyboard and pen. And in this case you have to pay for both. But only if you really need them.
Laptop, tablet or both?
The Surface 3 is a go anywhere do anything type of device. It's a tablet that also wants to be your laptop. It'll be great for working on just as it'll be great for chilling out and watching a movie on. It's not the cheapest device out there, granted, especially compared to some laptops on the market. But while it wants to be a laptop as well, the Surface offers a degree of freedom you don't get with a traditional laptop.
The Surface is perhaps better compared to something like Dell's Venue 11 Pro. Like the Surface 3 it's a standalone Windows 8.1 tablet with options for external docks and keyboard attachments. When you look at the price of a comparable (64GB storage, 4GB RAM) tablet in the UK Dell store you're spending £100 more than the Surface 3. In the U.S. an Atom powered Venue 11 Pro starts at $429 with 32GB storage and 2GB of RAM.
The bottom line
It's an argument that could go on forever with no real conclusion. For some people, $499 is too much. And that's absolutely fine. For others, it's a well priced device that's well within the market it finds itself in. The accessories are expensive, but compared to its peers the Surface 3 itself doesn't seem to be priced too high. And don't forget you also get one year of Office 365 thrown in with the price.
Regional price differences will always happen, and that's not necessarily all Microsoft's fault. But it's also not the only company that has to deal with it.
What's your opinion on the price of the Surface 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine