Monday, 27 June 2016 14:53

Surface 3 going, going, almost gone – what’s next?

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Microsoft will discontinue its Surface 3 – the Intel x7 Atom-based, 10.8”, HD touch tablet. Speculation is growing as to whether it will have a similar sized replacement.

My wife owns one and is a big fan of the device. It is USB powered (one charger for phone, tablet, headphones, and wireless dongle when travelling); just the right size to put into a handbag; it is a great Kindle reader; plays MP4 videos; when she travels it runs all the Office productivity and remote desktop software she needs; and it can use a PowerBank for recharging.

As a bonus, it has a full-sized USB 3.0, micro-DisplayPort, SD slot, Wii-Fi AC, and weights 622g. Not to mention, optional at extra cost, a reasonable magnetic keyboard/cover and Surface Pen completes this. I offered her a Surface Pro 4 or a Samsung Galaxy TabPro S, but the extra 2” of screen simply makes it less convenient for her use and places a stretch on her handbags.

Microsoft commentator Paul Thurrott printed Microsoft’s response “Since launching Surface 3 over a year ago, we have seen strong demand and satisfaction amongst our customers. Inventory is now limited and by the end of December 2016, we will no longer manufacture Surface 3 devices.” So what will Microsoft come up with?

According to a wide variety of reports Microsoft is not sure what, if anything, of the replacement. It may be a space left for OEMs to fill with devices like the interesting models made by Asus, Dell, HP or others.

It is interesting to note that the Surface line started life as an ARM-based Surface RT designed to challenge the supremacy of the 9.7” iPad. It failed as It seems that in the smaller 10” market users were more interested in apps and content  at which the iPad excels — than productivity.

One thing is for certain: a future model is likely to use USB-C and lose the extra ports, and that would take away from the Surface 3’s appeal.

I think any 10” Surface successor needs to be ultra-thin, light, fanless, have great battery life, needs an HD screen, USB-C charging (and preferably a USB 3.0 port and mini-DisplayPort) and must retain the integral flip-out stand. As a Surface user let me tell you the stand is one of the killer features.

While Microsoft does not post sales figures advertising trackers like AdDuplex have indicative results (show Windows 10 only).

  • Surface 3 – 21.5%
  • Surface Pro 3  33.3%
  • Surface Pro 4  30.9%
  • Surface Book  14.3%

These percentages seem reasonable and confirm that the Surface design is growing in popularity.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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