Design and Build Quality
We'll start with the 10.8-inch, Full HD display. It's perhaps the brightest (430 nits) display we've seen on a 2-in-1 of this caliber, and it's a winner from edge to edge. Colors are sharp, touch response is instant, and it's a joy to watch films and games on. It's unquestionably the highlight of the entire package.
The rest of the frame is a silver metallic, with one edge home to a Mini Display port, full-size USB 3.0 socket, microUSB charging port, and a conventional 3.5mm headphone/combo jack. The top lip has a power button and a volume rocker, with the opposite edge home to a notch for popping the kickstand out. Speaking of the kickstand, it's sturdy and useful, but only has three positioning points; those hoping for a device with infinite positioning there won't find it here. Still, in our testing we found the three notches acceptable, and feel that the masses will be able to find an ergonomic angle to work from.
Without an optional Type Cover, the Surface 3 is just a tablet. Toss a magnetized Type Cover on, and it turns into something entirely more functional. The $130 accessory is sturdily manufactured, providing an adequate tying experience (albeit one with shallow travel) and an all too small trackpad. It works quite well in short spans, but extended use will have some longing for a more full-size Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
We should also mention pen input. There's an optional $50 stylus for doodling and taking notes with pen, but this really begins to push the entire package into nickel-and-diming territory.
$499 tablet can quickly become a nearly $700 tablet if you add two components that many would argue are essential to making the most of a slate that runs a full version of Windows 8.1 and eventually Windows 10.