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Microsoft’s New Atom-Based $499 Surface 3

Mary Jo Foley, reporting for ZDNet:

The new Surface 3 is a 64-bit Intel Atom x7 (Cherry Trail)-based tablet that’s the new little sister to Microsoft’s flagship Surface Pro 3.

A Surface 3 tablet with 2 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, minus the add-on keyboard, starts at $499. It ships with Windows 8.1, but will freely upgradable by consumers to Windows 10 for one year following Windows 10’s general availability (a period which will start some time this summer). The Surface 3 will begin shipping on May 5 through a variety of retailers and resellers in 26 markets worldwide.

The Surface 3 has a 10.8-inch 1920 X 1280 ClearType HD display with a 3:2 aspect ratio.

Interesting to me for two reasons: First, Intel’s Atom processors are finally starting to compete in the iPad-style tablet space where ARM was heretofore unchallenged. Second, the new 3:2 aspect ratio. Surface’s previous 16:9 is a great landscape aspect ratio, but it’s a lousy portrait one — and people use tablets in both landscape and portrait. I’d bet that portrait gets more aggregate usage on the iPad. Portrait use cases are the sort of scenarios where tablets most distinguish themselves from laptops. This is a good move on Microsoft’s part.

Worth noting, though, that 3:2 was the aspect ratio of the iPhone from 2007-2011. It would have been easy for Apple to use a 3:2 aspect ratio for the iPad. It would have allowed scaled up iPhone apps running on iPad to fit the screen exactly. But they didn’t do that — they went with an even closer-to-square aspect ratio of 4:3.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015