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Microsoft's Surface 3, which went on sale Tuesday, may be the first device that finally keeps all the promises the company made when it first announced the ambitious line of tablet-laptops. Gone is the limited, reviled Windows RT; instead, a full version of Windows 8.1 — and a free upgrade to Windows 10 later this year. The device retains the Surface-trademark excellent build quality, but is now lighter than ever. And that's despite a serious bump to the specs, making the Surface 3 akin to a budget laptop and the Pro version like a nice mid-range one. With a 10-inch screen and slightly more than HD resolution, the 3 won't be as sharp as an iPad or some other tablets, but it won't look bad, either. The Pro gets a larger, 12-inch screen and significantly more pixels, so if you plan to watch movies, play games or do real work on this thing, you might want to upgrade. (Get more RAM while you're at it.)

Of course, one of the cool magnetic keyboards is practically a must-buy, since they double as screen covers. We found the ultra-flat keys rather strange to type on, but it's the price you pay for convenience. And there are plenty of other Bluetooth keyboards to choose from if you don't like the feel of Microsoft's.

The Surface 3 starts at $500, and the Pro at $799 — reasonable prices for unique, powerful devices but still more than some are looking to pay. Luckily if you have an old Surface lying around, you can trade it in for $150 credit toward a new model.



—Devin Coldewey