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Microsoft Surface 3 tablet

Microsoft comes close to getting it right with the Surface 3.

It has a new Atom chip, real Windows 8.1, great screen, decent battery life and a one year, one person subscription to Office 365.

Power for day-to-day needs

Intel’s Atom mobile device chip and a full version of Windows 8.1 are more than enough to cope with most everyday applications. There’s all you need to write documents, crunch numbers, surf the web, watch streaming video and play basic games.

Thanks to the chip’s low power requirements, you can work for at least eight hours on a single charge. That’s plenty to get through a normal day.

One noticeable plus with the low-power Surface 3 processor is that it doesn’t need a fan. There’s no noise, no moving parts to worry about.

Who should buy the Surface 3?

Earlier I wrote about the limits of the Surface 3 keyboard.

This means it is not suitable for anyone who needs to type lots of words. Journalists, writers, keen bloggers and essay-writing students should look elsewhere.

That leaves people who work on the road and prefer Windows over iOS, OS X or Android.

Those who use Windows on a desktop will get value from the Surface 3 when they are on the move.

It’s a great secondary device for anyone committed to Microsoft products and services. This applies to companies and people.

Specification is right, price not

Apart from the weak keyboard, there is one other thing holding the Surface 3 back: Its price.

The Surface 3 tablet sells in New Zealand a $800 for the 64GB model and $960 for one with 128GB of storage. Almost everyone buying a Surface 3 will spend another $200 on the keyboard cover.

That’s expensive when compared with what $1000 can buy elsewhere.

The same money will buy a good laptop with a more powerful processor, more storage and a better keyboard.

Surface Pro 3 a better deal

A little more money buys a lot more computer.

That includes the Surface Pro 3. The least expensive Surface Pro 3 64GB model will set you back another $400. That extra money buys better everything, including a better keyboard.

Good Ultrabooks start at about $1300 and offer a big performance and productivity bump over the Surface 3.

Microsoft is looking for a premium price for the Surface 3 while positioning it as the junior model to the Surface Pro. That’s tricky market positioning. At $800 for a tablet and a keyboard it would be unbeatable, at $1000 it is only going to appeal to the Microsoft faithful.