After some shenanigans with FedEx, our Surface 3 review unit arrived today. It's a neat little system.
As revealed last week Surface 3 is not a successor to Surface 2. It doesn't have an ARM processor, it doesn't run Windows RT, and it doesn't have limited software compatibility. Instead, it uses a Cherry Trail Atom processor, it runs the full version of Windows 8.1, and it will run any x86 software that any other PC will run. The name is something of a misnomer, in fact: this isn't "Surface 3" so much as it's "Surface Pro 3 Lite." It's every bit the equivalent of the 12.5 inch Haswell system, just smaller and cheaper.
The hardware feels every bit as well-built as all the other Surface systems, both Pro and non-Pro. The broad styling cues haven't changed since the systems were introduced: relatively unadorned, angular tablets, with an integrated kickstand. The Surface 3 is marginally more ornamented than its various brethren, with the Microsoft logo on the back now being shiny; it's made of precision cut pieces of polished stainless steel.