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Spending Time with the Microsoft Surface 3

The new Surface, not to be confused with the Surface Pro, is one of Microsoft’s latest tablets, and despite its low price-point, it’s impressively capable. To that effect, Surface 3 replaces the previous generation of watered down RT models, making it Microsoft’s lightest, thinnest, and most affordable model. That said, Surface 3 is the best of both worlds, an awesome tablet, and an awesome laptop replacement. Anything you do on your computer, you can now do on your tablet – all without breaking the bank.

The Surface 3 sports the classic Surface design. It has a clean glossy black face with an aluminum body and angled edges. There’s an 8MP camera on the back, a 3.5MP camera on the front, discreet front stereo speakers, and a microphone. Surfaces all have a kickstand, a rarity for tablets, and the 3’s is great. The kickstand now props in three positions. It’s impressively sturdy and works fantastically on a table and even on a lap.

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The device is built pretty tough, it looks and feels really well engineered. It’s lighter than the old iPads. It’s not as light as the iPad Air, but Surface does have a larger screen. The 10.8″ screen is “Full HD Plus” (1920×1280) and looks phenomenal. It’s really bright and vivid, with good dimming.

Along the edges of Surface is a selection of some amazing ports: headphone, full USB, micro-USB, and mini DisplayPort. There’s even a micro-SD card slot tucked under the stand. No proprietary cables or hard-to-find adapters required! This selection of ports means you can easily output to any HDMI device or monitor, you can plug in any regular USB device, and you can charge it with any micro-USB cable. It’s really beautiful how universally compatible the Surface is.

The setup was totally painless, though you might wait an hour for it to update. Fly through a couple prompts, a couple notes, an update, and you’re in. It doesn’t even require a Microsoft account or force you to make one. You’ll need a login later if you want to use the app store or take advantage of Cortana.

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Having full Windows on a tablet is pretty amazing. You don’t need to find a mobile app replacement for everything you do on your PC. There’s very few compromises. You can install the browser of your choice, use full Microsoft Office (1 year included), install your favorite email clients, play computer games, install software, use web development tools, and one of my favorite things: you don’t end up on a watered down version of your favorite websites. Music and video streaming works perfectly on the web, and again, there’s no limitations. If full Microsoft Windows is too distracting or complicated for you, you can switch into tablet mode for a more focused, full screen, experience. It’s a seamless transition too, you can just toggle tablet mode on and off.

This was the first time I’ve used Windows 10, and I must say as a regular Windows user and even an iPad/iPhone user, everything felt extremely familiar. A lot of the expected touch gestures worked, and navigating the Windows experience was the same as always, but now it’s touch-friendly.

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If you’re a good multitasker and like working on a few things at once, you’ll love Surface 3. Maybe you want to compose an email while watching a YouTube clip, or write a document while referencing something online, or have a few websites open at once, you name it. Even though Surface 3 only runs an Atom processor, and not a core processor like the Pro model, it can still multitask like a champion and everything feels pretty snappy.

Having a full USB port is great. You can easily hook up a flash drive or external drive, drag files over (to a file system you have a lot of control over), and do whatever you want with it. You can even sync your phone, be it Windows, Android, or iPhone. Plus, don’t forget when you want to get more productive you can hook up a mouse, keyboard, or a USB hub for all of the above. Not productive enough? Add an extra monitor into the mix!

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