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Microsoft's Surface 3 on display at Best Buy

I swung by the local Best Buy to do a little window-shopping and stumbled upon the Microsoft Surface 3. It was a display unit for the 64GB version of the Surface 3, and it looked good.

As appearance goes, the Surface 3 looks and feels a lot like the Surface 2. You do have the obvious difference with the charging ports, but screen size, weight, thickness and the screen quality all seem in the same ballpark.

While handling the Surface 3 in a Best Buy is not the best way to spend hands-on time with a new device, I was impressed with the new device. The Surface 3 isn't blazingly fast but noticeably quicker than the Surface 2. The Atom processor has a bit more spunk than the Tegra processors of the Surface 2.

Granted, the Atom processor isn't on the same level as the iCore processors of the Surface Pro series but for the more economically priced Surface 3 it seems to perform rather nicely.

I would have liked to have seen how the model with 4GB of RAM performed, but the Surface 3 with 2GB's of RAM is a noticeable step up from the Surface 2 (in more ways than one). Speaking of, you can read our spec showdown between the Surface 2 and Surface 3 to get a better idea of what has changed. Also, don't forget to read yesterday's AMA with the Surface team about the new Surface 3 to learn some other facts about the new hybrid device.

According to the sales crew, the Surface 3 should be available on display at all the Best Buy locations but you will need to go online at BestBuy.com (opens in new tab) to pre-order the device. Let us know in the comments what you think of the Surface 3 if you have the opportunity to find one at your local Best Buy.

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

96 Comments
  • Were the employees the usual incompetent jerks?
  • Love when comments start on a negative tone. /s It's like angry people roam the internets on the weekend.
  • Not nice, and a negative reaction to how low level tech sales treat Microsoft products and customers. The real question is how can people that value Microsoft products react better to tech sales bigotry.
  • Cut em some slack they worked all week
  • I experienced this. I was checking out the Surface RT and one employee walked by and said "pfff Microsoft!”
  • Dude, you naive if you think his comment is off. He is absolutely right. You guys all seem to not care that unless the tech industry from bottoms up changes its perception of Microsoft and yes "incompetence" towards ms products...One day the enormous cash reserves will not be enough to save the surface brand. The windows phone brand... Maybe even windows itself. It's perfectly fine to feel upset about this. Does not make him negative.
  • Surface has a negative brand connotation? I've never seen that outside of Apple/Google fanboys.
  • Not Surface, but Windows specifically. First it was the overexaggeration of Windows computers magically getting viruses as soon as you unbox it, then it was people not liking the changes in Windows 8. "Regular" people don't know anything about Windows 10 and how great it is. So until people can accept that Microsoft (and specifically Windows products) will continue to get bad press from uninformed people. It's sad, but the only way to fix it is to inform more people.
  • That's a fact. The truly jaded also roam on the week days as well.
  • What else would you expect from a tech blog?
  • Daniel said nothing about comments not filled with praise... Can't tell if your comment was in jest or serious...  "Love when comments start on a negative tone. /s It's like angry people roam the internets on the weekend"
  • Especially when this is great news for Microsoft fans. The Surface 3 is already up for pre-order and getting displayed with several big retailers. With previous models it would be exclusive to the Microsoft Store at this point and other retailers would join in later on.  It feels like retailers want this device because they feel they can sell it, so they might actually push it
  • Trying to talk you out of the surface and instead getting the toypad probably
  • I've never known them to be jerks. Some are incompetent, sure. But BB is kind of a higher end WalMart for electronics, so your expectations shouldn't be too high.
  • This is my experience as well. Nice, but not necessarily competent.
  • A Best Buy employee at my store was talking about how the Macs were great. then the customer asked about touchscreens. The looks on their face when they had to reveal the news was priceless.
  • Ha! I guess that shut them up! "Touch... wha..?"
  • Yea with all my experiences at best buy, WalMart, and even Verizon the employees ask me why would you get the windows phone or surface this iwhatever is better than it. Its hilarious really.
  • One day an employee asked me the same, my answer was:
    STFU and give me what I asked for
  • That's the spirit.
  • Lmao! Great response!
  • Is it really that bad in America? I don't live there so I would like to know. Here in Ireland, when I walk into my local Meteor store (my current carrier), they just give me the Lumia I want without asking question and some of the employees even praise Windows and enjoy me telling them about new Windows phones coming out. When I go to PCWorld, the Surfaces are always nicely on display and the staff seems to know thheir stuff. Whenever I go to the comment section of WindowsCentral, I always see comments complaining about staff discouraging them form Windows.
  • Try to find a laptop at WalMart that doesn't have a broken screen, isn't locked at some weird screen, has no power, broken in some way, but the ipads have their own case. Weird.
  • Depends on location?  There's 2 walmat in my city (DC) and both electronic sections are maintained very well.
  • I've gotten in so many agruments with them over the years.  I've heard them say Plasma is old technology and go with LCD.  One dude tried to talk me out of a Xbox One.  Saying Xbox, screw that PS4 Dude!  And so on.  Thank god they have MS reps in there now. 
  • I feel it's better in some stores that Microsoft invests in. There are reps for Microsoft at Bestbuys. There's even dedicated Surface reps at some locations at certain times of the year (I was one).
  • Only the ones in the Google section. I think they're bitter about having to watch over the Chromebook display that nobody visits.
  • That's an incredible assumption. I'm a Microsoft rep at my local Best Buy and we do a whole lot to keep on top of products and new hardware. Please don't generalize one experience and associate every store and their employees with that negativity.
  • Ahh I work at Best Buy and I have to agree with most of this statement, buy then again, your statement indicates every employee is a jerk
  • Would have been better to use one at a Microsoft Store, right George? Only teasing; it's good that they're getting demo units out ahead of release in areas that don't have MS stores.
  • Wow that is almost poetic
  • Yes. It would be much better to have a Microsoft Store in the area. Maybe one day but I'm not going to hold my breath. Only downside to going to Best Buy was the sales staff kept pushing me towards the i7 Surface Pro 3. Kept saying the Pro 3 was so much better and would probably be around a lot longer than the Surface 3. Especially seeing that the Surface 3 only had 2GB of RAM and the Pro had 4GB. All I heard was "blah, blah, blah" after that. Luckily, I go to Best Buy for the convenience and not the sales force "expertise". Some are nice guys and gals but I tune most of the sales pitches out and concentrate on pointing all the browsers to a certain tech website.
  • That made me smile :P
  • Lol xD like how you pointed the one in the photo to WC?
  • Frys here is showing accessories for the Surface 3 such as pens, keyboard, charger etc. Didn't see the actual tablet in the store though. Shouldn't be too long before it shows if BB is selling it.
  • Pretty sure I never gonna ever going to see one of those in my local Best Buy just about 15 minutes from my home.
  • I tried it at the Microsoft store and do think it's a beautiful device.....I preorder the 4GB 128 model.
  • I would love to know if the Surface 3 supports the new micro Sd cards with the ridiculous storage; 256gb and up.
  • both surface pro 3 and surface 3 can hold up to 2tb of sd card
  • Saw it and still say the same thing...they pushed widescreen, tv's, computer monitors, phones, etc on us...now they are trying to tell me the old 4:3 is better. Not buying that philosophy at all.
  • Pushing 4:3??
    Surely you meant 3:2 :P.
  • Potato, pototo. Either way, the entire electronics industry has been pushing onto us and selling us 16:9.... and now all of a sudden the past 15 years they were wrong? Whatever....
  • What an odd thing to be "incensed" over.
  • It was never better for every use, but it is cheaper to produce. It looks better for marketing purposes as well. You could claim higher diagonal sizes while providing less surface area.
  • The Microsoft Store Kiosk at Stonebriar Centre Mall in Frisco, TX has two Surface 3 on display if anyone is in the area and curious to get hands on. I checked it out and loved how neat the entire device is even with keyboard attached. I will say that I detached it from the keyboard and was surprised how it feels really light. They are taking pre-order for the device and accessories. Their recommendation was to preorder the different color stylus that you desire because they expect all colors except the standard silver will be hard to keep in stock.
  • I stay closer to the Frisco Kiosk but have been going to the NorthPark Center full Microsoft Store since it opened. Yeah my thought was that if you're coming from an older tablet the Surface 3 weight is nice.
  • Hey you soon won't have to go NorthPark Center much longer. A full line store is being built at Stonebriar on the lower level between Banana Republic and Brookstone.  The funny thing is I was at the Apple Store on the other end of the mall the other day checking out the new Force Track Pad on MacBook Pro and I over heard a guy talking to the Apple worker that Microsoft store was opening a store at the other end of the mall. He went on to say I don't know what they're going to sell other than the Surface.  Which I thought was funny because the space where the store is being built has the images of Microsoft products such as Xbox, Windows Phone and Microsoft Band painted on the temporary construction walls. I guess he called himself being a comedian. I've been to the Northpark store a few times and I enjoy going there because I know a few of the people there from when they worked at the Stonebriar kiosk. However I can't but help to notice how the Apple Store at Northpark is always packed and the Microsoft store is mostly lite on customers. I hope that the new Stonebriar store doesn't have the same situation. Nonetheless I'm glad to have a full line store open closer to me.
  • Good to hear they are opening up a full store. The Apple Store gets a lot of traffic because friends with friends walk in and hang around playing with the apps on the iPad and iPhones. It is one of the reasons why I feel so strongly that Microsoft has to get better at making sure there are hero apps and games on demo devices.  Microsoft actually has a far greater range of devices to show off.
  • Sweet. Will check out soon hopefully!
  • Looking forward to Frisco getting a full store. It's under construction now.
  • I called to confirm they had it on display, of which I was told, "yes". I went down only to discover the floor models were all Pro 3's. The sales guy said, "it's just like the Surface 2".
  • Finding a sales rep that knows his or her stuff is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
  • The Microsoft Store reps have all been a pleasant surprise. They know their stuff pretty well and if they don't they'll hunt down someone in the store who does (like a manager or tech from the back). This is coming from a Sysadmin for the public sector.
  • Im surprised they finally allowed more than 2 Gigs of ram on the atoms
  • Why do people keep saying that?? Atoms have been 64 bit processors for about a year now and there have been plenty of tablets with 4gb of ram for over a year. The Thinkpad 10 had an Atom z3775 processor and an option for 4gb ram. So did the Dell Venue 11 Pro. The processor had nothing to do with Windows Tablets having only 2gbs ram. That was the OEM's who chose to only offer 2gbs ram.
  • Just saw it in person. Very nice, but bigger than I expected. They need to work on those bezels. Would still definitely consider it.
  • I think those bezels are there for very specific reasons like the Dock Station and Type Cover accessories. My initial impression is that they can go to USB Type C for Surface 4 and ditch the dock station entirely or go with a more bracket type.
  • How was the performance? Was it a 64 MB model or 128? I am curious, if you decide to go back for a second look, to see how much free space is left on device. They advertize 64 but you really only get a fraction of that between windows and recovery.
  • I played with a 64GB/2GB model as a local Best Buy store yesterday and I can say the performance and response times were very good with the brief time I played around with some of the default apps. The 64GB still uses a quite a bit of storage by default I think the model was about 30GB free. I am of the belief to buy as much machine as you can afford and plan ahead if you hold on to machines for a few years. So I think it’s smarter (at least IMO) to go for the 128GB/4GB model anyway. I think most consumers would be happier in the long run. Any more performance or if HD space needs are over what you can add with the SD card, I would go with a higher spec'd SP3 or Ultrabook instead. I do look at the Surface 3 as more of a consumption device with light to possibly moderate productivity use compared to what you can get with comparable Android tablet or iPad Air. The Surface gives you the full web after all. I am sure comparisons with the iPad Air 2/Surface 3 will appear very close or shortly after the release date.
  • So why can't you put Windows 10 on the Surface 2? I thought that the screen size was the issue, but the Surface 3 has about the same screen size.
  • Chipset reasons. RT runs on ARM architecture like the Tegra 4, while full windows needs x86 chips i.e Core ix and atom processors.
  • I had the same thought when I tested the Surface 3 yesterday at a local Microsoft Store. The 2GB model was snappy and responsive and I wanted to see how the 4GB model would feel. Sadly no 4GB models were on display and the salesperson disappointedly tried to tell me I wouldn't be able to tell the difference since it was the same processor anyway. I gave her a death stare and told her she basically was discouraging an upsell when I proactively inquired about the 4GB model. The fact that I knew there was a 4GB model without her telling me should've told her I was keenly aware of tech and the product. One big takeaway I felt using Windows 8.1 on the Surface 3 is that the salespeople better push the crap out of the fact Windows 10 is coming soon and it will be available as an upgrade.
  • She has a point though. A lot of nerds get too caught up in the specs (bigger numbers always better, right?). If you are looking for a high performance Surface, just go with the Pro or else you might be letdown. The Surface 3 ran extremely snappy and impressed the hell out of me but remember, it's casual use device. An extra 2GB isn't going to turn the Surface 3 into some monster machine.
  • It will make it seem faster though right?
  • For $100 extra it is a good buy to double the RAM and storage. I want the longer battery life. I use my iPad Air all the time for streaming video, social media management, OneNote, Excel. The extra RAM is good for keeping things snappy when multiple programs are open. I'm thinking ahead to Windows 10 and how I currently use Windows 10 preview.
  • Not an x86 processor
  • Yes it is
  • and still no user reviews, oder benchmarks...
     
  • One point of frustration that I'd love to see Microsoft improve on is having aspirational apps preloaded on the devices. A selection of movies, apps and games that can showcase the best use cases outside of Microsoft Office. I was so impressed with the speed that apps were opening. Most times in 1-2 seconds. Apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus took about 8 seconds to open as it was trying to populate the screen. I blame that on the coding of the app not the OS though.
  • The Surface lineup has always been about productivity. Why would bundling music and books contribute to productivity Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Never said anything about books, as for music yes they should have some music loaded up on the device. It isn't like someone would never listen to music on the device. My main point was to focus on aspiration types of things. Productivity is not limitied to stoicism and bland tasks. Selling to consumers means you need to strike an emotional response from the user. I stood and watched several people walk up to the Surface 3 and spend less than 2 minutes playing around with it only to walk straight back out of the store. That is an epic fail. Something needs to captivate the user long enough to want to see what else it is capable of. Business users are different as cost vs value proposition is what rules the day.
  • Reading books and periodicals is a primary function for a tablet. I am very interested in that user experience on the new 3:2 Surface 3. So, yeah - I would like to see some books and magazines loaded on a demo unit.
  • i went to BB on Friday to test the display model i didnt see it so i asked the guy who came up to and asked if i needed help.  Yes i do, where is the Surface 3?  He kept trying to tell me it is right here.   I said no that is the surface PRO 3.  I had to explain to him that a new model was just released and he didnt know and started talking to someone in his earpiece.  If you are going to work with tech, then try to know what's going on or just work the register.  I may have to go back today and see if its on display, to lazy to drive at least 30 depending on traffic MS store today. 
  • You're assuming that they keep up with every piece of tech. This actually isn't part of their job, it's to know about and sell what's there. Now if they are incompetent, then that's more management's fault for not training. I worked at Office Depot. I could tell you specs and help you compare but if there was some issue with a certain computer, I wouldn't just know about it. There's too many variations to know all the details.
  • Does it perform as fast as the newest iPad? Yes, I know the iPad can't run full Windows (in its case, Mac OS), but is it as quick in terms of opening things, basic apps and games, etc? Because I'm worried that because it runs full Windows with these specs, that it will be slow.
  • Well by comparison I had just used my iPad Air earlier that day and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly apps opened up. Again, mileage will very depending on how efficiently coded the app is but at first blush I felt very satisfied with the speed that apps open up. Generally less than 2 seconds.
  • Please dont call them iCore processors. :/ They are intel core processors.
  • Finally, they are displaying the Surface line correctly with keyboard in place and "angled".
  • Saw one today at the Microsoft store. They had a few on display at the very front of the store and were pushing it pretty hard.
  • I saw one at my local best buy as well but when I went to touch it, it was crazy hot. No thank you.
  • I too went to BB to see if they had a display model. They did not. They barely had 2 working Pros and one that was hung or something. Usually, they have 6. When I asked about surface 3, the guy told me they usually don't get them until one day before release. Now, it's possible he just didn't know, I am not sure. I only have the MS kiosk within reasonable driving distance, but honestly, don't want to make the hike if they don't have it. I did see the display model for HP Spectre x360. Nice, but... wish it was 11.6 size. Hopefully, a test unti will be available, but honestly, I don't see myself pre-ordering it until the specs for the X7 come out. I just can't commit until we find out just how capable that cpu is. The 499 is simply and unworkable system, with Windows notoriously taking up a large chunk of space, going with 64 is just too dangerous for an item I'd want to have for a few years. so going to 599 + 129 keyboard + 50 pen, and you're in $780. And at 900, you're at PRO range. If the X7 does not perform at least as well as i3, I think it'd be more prudent to wait and see what SP4 brings.
  • I see some of your points and wish microsoft had sold the surface 3 in the sweet spot price range 375$ to 450$. I will buy the 128gig model with 4 gigs of ram and a Pen. I will buy the Type/cover at a later date. when I have to do desktop stuff I will use my USB wireless keyboard and mouse. As a matter of fact I bet a lot of people who alredy have & use a wireless keyboard and mose will do the same thing. in fact some wireless mouse and keyboards would be better devices to use with the Surface 3 Tablet because it's a better keyboard experience than they will get with surface 3's dedicated Keyboard/Cover combo. Think that the Surface 3's will sell very well in the market place . 4 millions hits on a you tube Surface 3 add video. I hope That Microsoft does like lenovo and sells a economy model 10.1 inch non surface plastic bodied atom cpu Microsoft tablet for low income/budget minded folks. the Surface line folks is microsoft's premium brand tablets. Microsoft needs lower tier models         
  • Well, costco has a deal where they will throw in the keyboard+pen for extra 100, shaving off 80 bucks. That's something MS should've done. We'll see what the benchmarks are. I like the form factor, but just worried it'll be underpowered. Maybe they'll be able to optimize windows for the platform, and at least "modern" apps will run well. I think the browser benchmarks are the most important ones. Mail should be fast enough, and that's what this tablet is for: Mail, OneNote and Browser. If Spartan can smoke safari/chrome, that will be enough to make this a worthy product. I totally agree about bluetooth keyboard, but the point of the cover is to travel and lappability. Would be hard to use bluetooth keyboard on the couch. They need an accessary that mimicks asus T100 dock. And I just don't see anything "desktop" working without a touchpad.
  • The staff at my local Best Buy claimed not to know anything about it.
  • Just one question: How closely does the new "Bright Red" Typecover match an Orange Lumia (830 / 930)? I
  • Intel is in the decline, their cpu are losing to other competitors. The atom x7 cherry trail in this sp3 is slower than apple ipad air 30-90% in geekbench. http://www.computerworld.com/article/2905860/benchmark-scores-show-perfo... Just terrible though i have doubt on the benchmark system.
  • I'm not a computer guy, but this comparison seems fundamentally flawed. And any test with stated results varying from 30-90%...that's a red flag.
  • The difference is atributable to the fact that the test measured both single core performance and multi-core performance. In single core performance, the iPad Air was measured to be almost twice as fast (the 93% faster result, very different than OP's "93% slower" comment) In multi-core performance, the iPad Air was measured as 30% faster than the S3. Whether the numbers are valid is a different story, but I can at least provide some context to what they meant.
  • Ah, Ok thanks. I found the comparison to the pro model a bit more useful: - Performance of Surface 3 is 85% of Surface Pro 3 (i3) in PC Mark 8 Creative Benchmark for video editing. - Performance for gaming/graphics is 70% of the Surface Pro 3 (i3), in 3D Cloud Gate. - Performance of eMMC on Surface 3 is 50% of the SSD on Surface Pro 3.
  • The comparison is pretty useless. It's like comparing PC to a PS4. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The GeekBench people are very Apple focused. You can see in their Blog how they're spending considerable time optimizing their Swift benchmark code to try to get it up to C++ performance ("The optimizations might look strange to someone who hasn't read up on Swift internals"): http://www.primatelabs.com/blog/2015/02/swift-performance-updated/ Note how their Swift "benchmark" FFT code improved by almost an order-of-magnitude with a patch provided by a third party. That's a joke in benchmarking. Who knows how optimized their iPad benchmark is compared to the Intel version. They could be using A7/8 hardware for computations vs. software-only on Intel CPUs.
  • Complaining about salespersons is pointless. In Germany, the largest tech chain also has MS presentations, a third as large as the combined Apple kingdom. A manager told me, that from every Apple product they sell, they make more money than two Windows laptops combined. It's the same with devs; they need a customer base ready to spend.
  • I went to see it after this article and IT WASN'T CHARGED! Useless!
  • Folks please expect to see early reviews of the z8700 Atom CPU Surface 3 in about 3 week because Microsoft sends out it's sales models to some Tech site editors before release of the Product. I think Microsoft likes to give them at least 2 weeks to test the device. so look for your favorite reviewers to give you their view of the Value of the Surface 3 Tablet .I hope that the Cerry trail z8700 Atom CPU has the right stuff to make Window 8.1 run smoothly on the Surface 3 Tablet. if most the tech site testors say it can do it then Microsoft wil have huge Winner here folks Microsoft needs  this Surface 3 Tablet to be a success because they want to sell a lot of them. Hmm I think they will if they lower the price 50 dollars to 450$ and throw in the Pen too ! that would be a cool deal
  • Starting to re-think my purchase of one of these given the benchmark scores... Not entirely sure this'll "replace my laptop" any more... Going to wait for reviews to see, but it sounds like this is really going to be nothing more than a tabelt app platform combined with a slow windows PC.
  • I saw one a couple days ago at my local BB.  The display was nice, the product was up and running, no complaints about BB here.  I didn't need to ask any salespeople any questions.  Maybe I'm different than others who have some frustration here, but it's pretty easy to find the Surface 3 and try it out without asking a salesperson a single question. I thought the Surface 3 was quite nice.  It was significantly lighter than my SP3.  It was reasonably fast, but not as fast as my i5 SP3 (no suprise there).  However, I do a little CAD work, and I don't think the Surface 3 would keep up with that at all.  I messed with Word and Excel for a few minutes, and the Surface 3 handled that just fine.  Web browsing was pretty good too.  Overall, this is a nice combination of a light weight, reasonably powered, productivity machine, and it's probably what I would use but for my CAD need. MS is definitely moving in the right direction.  Notwithstanding Tim Cook's ignorant "toaster" comments, people like me are tired of carrying around two devices.  I want something that is small enough I can take it to a brief meeting in the conference room down the hallway without having to lug a laptop.  I want something with inking ability so I can write meeting notes in One Note with a stylus.  I want something with enough power that I don't feel like I'm compromising if I need to do real work.  For me, that's the SP3.  For others who don't do CAD, the Surface 3 hits the sweet spot.  People are starting to see that this kind of device is a good fit for people who work.  And for students.  And for anyone else who wants to do more than look at the internet and play Candy Crush.