Microsoft Surface 3
The Microsoft Surface 3 tablet starts at £419 and will get a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it arrives later this yearMicrosoft

Microsoft has announced the Surface 3, its latest Windows tablet which is intended to replace your laptop, and prices start at £419.

Running Windows 8.1, with a free upgrade to the upcoming Windows 10 when it launches, the Surface 3 is the first of Microsoft's entry-level tablet range - opposed to the premium Surface Pro - to ditch Windows RT. This brings Microsoft's entire product catalogue into line, with Windows 10 to soon run on all smartphones, tablets computers and hybrids the company sells.

The Surface 3 has a 10.8in ClearType HD display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1920 x 1280. Its metal body is 8.7mm thick and it weighs 622g; transitioning across from the Surface Pro 3 is the new model's adjustable kickstand, which props the tablet up at almost any angle.

Microsoft will sell two versions of the Surface 3 when it goes on sale on 7 May. One will be Wi-Fi only, while the other will include a SIM card slot for connecting to the internet over 4G. The £419 Wi-Fi model has 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, while the 4G model costs £499 and doubles the RAM and storage to 4GB and 128GB respectively.

Apple undercuts the Surface 3 with its £399 iPad Air 2, but that has just 16GB of storage. The equivalent Air 2 with 4G and 128GB of storage costs £659, considerably more than Microsoft's tablet. The new Surface also boasts more connectivity than the iPad, with a full-size USB 3.0 port, plus Mini DisplayPort, a microSD card reader, micro USB charging port and headphone jack.

The Surface 3 has an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus on the back and a 3.5MP camera for video calls on the front. Microsoft claims battery life is ten hours of video playback for both models, and although they are both compatible with the Surface Pen, Microsoft's stylus is sold separately.

So too is a range of Type Covers and docking stations which give the Surface 3 the functionality of a laptop. There is no word yet on prices for the new tablet's Type Covers, but based on previous models we expect them to cost £79.

The Surface 3 can be pre-ordered from Microsoft's online store from 31 March and will go on sale on 7 May.