Powered by an Atom Cherry Trail processor and featuring all the enterprise benefits of Windows 8.1, the Surface 3 is a great mobile productivity aid. However, the Type Cover and Surface Pen are not bundled with it, so turning it into a full-on laptop replacement is expensive.
Good selection of ports, great display, reasonable performance, bloatware free
Type Cover and Surface Pen not included, expensive by Atom tablet standards
Processor: Quad-core Cherry Trail Intel Atom
Display:10.8in, 1920x1280, 3:2 aspect ratio, ClearType, Full HD Plus
Storage: 64GB or 128GB, microSD
Connectivity: WiFi, optional LTE
Operating system: Windows 8.1 (32-bit)
Battery: Unspecified. 10-hour projected life
Microsoft's entry into the hardware market was slightly awkward. The firm unveiled its first Surface tablet-come-laptop all the way back in 2011. Many people saw the benefits of the Pro range, but they were less enamoured with the Windows RT models.
There are plenty of reasons for this, but one of the biggest was the major limitations Windows RT put on Surface users.
Despite looking like the full version of Windows 8, RT wasn't compatible with legacy applications and would run apps only from the Windows Marketplace, which at the time was woefully understocked on business apps.
This made the RT models a bit of a hard sell in business environments, despite its semi-affordable price.
Clearly having listened to customer feedback, Microsoft addressed this four years later with the latest Surface 3, a device which aims to offer the full functionality of a Windows 8.1 tablet and laptop to buyers on a budget.
The Surface 3 has a similar design to its big brother, the Surface Pro 3, and, other than the Surface 3's smaller 267x187x8.1mm dimensions and 622g weight, the two convertibles look all but identical from a distance.
Both feature a silver magnesium chassis and are designed for portrait use. Microsoft has placed the capacitive Windows/Home button on the bottom of the device's front face and physical power button on its right side.
However, once we got up close we noticed a number of subtle design changes on the Surface 3, some of which are positive, others less so. On a positive front, Microsoft has sensibly replaced the proprietary charger used on the Surface Pro 3 with a basic USB 2.0 input.
This is a huge step forward in our view as it allows the Surface 3 to be charged with any microUSB charger with a high enough wattage. So you won't be left in the lurch if you forget to pack the Surface 3's bundled 13W charger when leaving the office or home.
The inclusion of a charger port, which also acts as a regular USB 2.0 input, also means that the Surface 3 is fairly well stocked when it comes to connectivity options. Amazingly, Microsoft has loaded the Surface 3 with a full sized USB 3.0 input, mini display micro, microUSB 2.0/power jack and microSD slot.
Moving onto the less positive changes, Microsoft bizarrely chose to take a step backwards with the Surface 3's kickstand and designed it to have only three standing options. This makes using the Surface 3 as a laptop a little trickier than with the Surface Pro 3, which has a kickstand that can be manually adjusted to stand at custom angles.
Microsoft has also chosen not to bundle the Surface 3 with an active stylus, as it has on past Surface devices, meaning that, like the Type Cover keyboard attachments, buyers who want to take advantage of the convertible's full functionality will have to shell out more cash.
This would be fine were it not for the fact that the Surface Pen costs £45 and the Type Cover costs a hefty £110.
We were fairly impressed with the Surface 3 in terms of build quality. Lugging it around London in a satchel and using it as our primary work and personal tablet and laptop, the convertible managed to survive an accidental encounter with a stair rail and a rude tube commuter's elbow.
Next: Display and operating system