Microsoft introduces Surface 3, a cheaper tablet starting at $499

Microsoft has announced the Surface 3, a new, cheaper tablet

Microsoft has announced the Surface 3, a new, cheaper tablet.

Starting at $499 -- compared with $799 for the flagship Surface Pro 3 -- it is the thinnest and lightest Surface that Microsoft has ever shipped. The device is 8.7 mm thick, weighs 1.37 pounds and has a 10.8-inch screen, which is slightly smaller than the 12-inch Surface Pro 3.

“As we planned the next addition to the Surface family, the questions to answer for our customers became simple,” Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Microsoft Surface, said in a blog post Tuesday. “What product would we build to be sure we could make the very best of what we built in Surface Pro 3 available to many, many more people?”

Panay said Surface 3 features the “same beautiful design and premium materials as Surface Pro 3 in a more compact and efficient package.”

The Surface 3 also has a 3.5-megapixel front-facing camera and an 8-megapixel rear-facing cameras that both capture 1080p video. The battery will last up to 10 hours (Microsoft said its test results are based on video playback).

The Redmond, Wash., tech giant has always touted the Surface family's versatility and its ability to seamlessly turn into a laptop replacement.

So the Surface 3, like every Surface, has a kickstand. You can click in a type cover to type on a keyboard instead of tapping on the screen. The screen offers multitouch and can be used with a Surface pen.

It runs full Windows, including desktop apps, and includes a one-year subscription to Office 365.

Pre-orders are underway at Microsoft Stores, microsoftstore.com and third-party retailers, and the device will be on sale beginning May 5.

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