What's new in the Surface 3: Atom x7, new accessories, and more

Fahad Al-Riyami

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What's new in the Surface 3: Atom x7, new accessories, and more

The Surface 3 has just been announced, and we’re just learning more about latest addition to the Surface line of hybrid PCs. The Surface 3 comes with a few new/different features, and marks a lot of ‘first’ for non-Pro Surface models. Here’s what’s new in the Surface 3.

Powering the Surface 3 is the recently announced Atom x7, making the tablet the first non-Pro device to feature an x86 processor and run full Windows 8.1. During Mobile World Congress 2015, Intel announced a changed branding strategy for its new low-powered processors. The Atom x7 will make its debut on the Surface when the tablet launches in May. Preliminary benchmarks rank the quad-core processor as being several clicks below the Intel Core i3 processor used in the low-end Surface Pro 3. We should know more about this processor in the coming weeks.

There’s also a new kickstand in the Surface 3 and while we would have expected the tablet to feature the same friction-hinge used on the Surface Pro 3, the smaller sibling features a 3-stage kickstand instead. Another change to the hardware is the introduction of a MicroUSB port for charging instead of the proprietary ones used on previously announced Surface and Surface Pro devices.

With the new Surface comes a new Type Cover. Unfortunately, it isn’t bundled with the Surface 3 so you’ll have to buy it separately if you plan on using the Surface 3 for anything other than media consumption. The Type Cover is very similar to that of the Surface Pro 3, with the same new trackpad, and magnetic upper fold, but it’s smaller to fit the Surface 3 dimensions. With regards to backwards compatibility, Microsoft only lists the Surface 3 as a supported product, but the Type Cover uses the same 6-pin connector, so there’s no reason why it wouldn’t function with the Surface Pro 2 and older models, although it will stick out a little considering the Surface 3 has a slightly taller 10.8” screen compared to the 10.6” displays on the older models. The new Type Cover will cost $129.99.

The Surface 3 is also the first non-Pro Surface to have its own docking station, but because of differences in the tablet’s dimensions and changes in port location, it doesn’t support the existing Surface Pro 2 docking station. The new docking station features a power port, 4 USB ports (2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0), a gigabit Ethernet port, a 3.5mm audio input/output port,  a mini DisplayPort output, and a Kensington lock. The docking station will cost $199 when it launches in May.

Last but not least is the Surface Pen. It is the exact same one used on the Surface, also making the Surface 3 the first non-Pro Surface to feature pen support. However, this time, the n-trig pen comes in more colors including the original silver, and the new black, blue, and red. Also, it doesn’t come bundled with the Surface 3 like it does with the Pro 3, so you’ll have to buy it separately for $49.99.

All-in-all, we’re happy to finally see a Surface that will truly give the iPad Air 2 a run for its money. Let us know what you think of the new $499 Surface 3 in the comments below.