Pop those champagnes, the RT days are over for Microsoft Surface 3

We are finally rid of the amazingly crippled Microsoft hybrid that can’t play nice with a lot of apps

Ding dong, the RT laptop is dead. Long live Microsoft’s new and improved full-fledged Windows 8.1 laptop, the Surface 3.

From the day Microsoft unveiled its first Surface tablet with two variants, we’ve treated the Pro version one as the golden child. As for the first Surface RT and Surface 2? It’s been sitting in a corner, feeling all neglected and unwanted.

Today, that awkward kid is finally all grown up. It has removed its shackles, finally able to support full-fledged Windows apps.

Calling it the iPad killer might not be an exaggeration. After all, Microsoft has always drummed on about the fine hardware and design of the Surface Pro 3. All of which are now translated to the Surface 3 in a smaller and more manageable form factor.

A 10.8in display running 1920x1280 pixels sounds adequate for movie watching. As is the same integrated kickstand, stereo speakers with Dolby Audio-enhanced sound and a rated 10-hour battery life to keep the music and movies going. It still functions like a laptop when you attach the Surface 3 Type Cover (S$199) to it. Same two-hinged design, same tenacious grip on the unit.

The rear-facing 8MP camera, we can understand. It’s definitely much easier to snap a photo of a document and save it in OneNote for future use. That front-facing 3.5MP camera, however, is still something we frown upon. Great for video calls on Skype, we admit. And selfies too. If you don’t mind the odd stares from folks on the street.

In essence, think of the Surface 3 as a smaller Surface Pro 3 - everything you love (or perhaps, hate) about Windows 8.1, which is upgradeable for free to Windows 10, and the processing power of Intel’s quad-core Atom x7-Z8700 processor.

Except, there’s one key difference with its more powerful and larger sibling. On the side, you’ll spot a microUSB port. You would think it’s just for data transfer. But it’s more - that’s also the charging port, similar to smartphones and tablets. Which means, you won't need to have separate cables, just share the same USB charger for both the Microsoft laptop and your smartphone.

Other freebies included with the Surface 3 includes a one-year Office 365 Personal subscription and OneDrive storage. Want the Surface Pen? Sorry, that’s a separate purchase, priced at S$73.

The cost? There’s two to consider - the basic model, which comes with 2GB RAM and 64GB of storage, costs S$748. Microsoft believes 2GB of RAM is sufficient for even the most intensive email use. But hey, if you don’t buy that story, there’s the more powerful version that comes with 4GB of RAM and 128GB at S$898. It costs an additional S$150, but you get twice the memory and storage.

Pre-orders for the Surface 3 will start shortly after 31 Mar, and the units are expected to land on your doorstep starting from 5 May.

What about Surface Pro 3