Four reasons why a Surface 3 is the ultimate graduation gift

If you're stumped about what to get for your grad, check out this list of reasons why a Surface 3 tablet might be an excellent choice.

Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

Mother's Day is the big event on the immediate horizon in many countries, but if you stroll through the gift card and wrapping paper section of your favorite store, you'll probably notice that graduation season is right around the corner. Whether you're shopping for a high school student heading off to college, or a college student preparing to start a new career, Microsoft's Surface 3 makes an ideal graduation gift.

The Surface 3 hit store shelves May 5, 2015, just in time for graduation gift shopping. Surface 3 accessories, including the Surface 3 Type Cover, Surface Pen, and Surface 3 Docking Station, are also available.

Computers have been a favorite graduation gift pretty much since there has been computers, especially for high schoolers going to college. Students need productivity software such as Word and PowerPoint, and they need access to the internet for research purposes. Laptops replaced desktops because they provide more versatility to be productive from anywhere instead of just in the dorm room. The Surface 3 takes portability and flexibility to another level.

There are very capable Windows laptops available for less than $500, but the Surface 3 is an ideal gift for the following four reasons.

1: Portability

Microsoft has packed a full Windows PC into a tablet that's barely more than a third of an inch thick and weighs less than one and a half pounds. You can put the Surface 3 into a protective sleeve, and the whole thing will be smaller and lighter than most college textbooks.

2. Flexibility

With a Surface 3 Type Cover and the kickstand, the Surface 3 is a very effective "laptop." You can also detach the keyboard cover and just use it as a tablet. You can use the Surface Pen to "write" and take notes directly on the display. One of the things that puts the Surface 3 in a flexibility class all its own is the fact that it can be recharged from virtually any power source using a standard micro USB cable. Try that with your laptop.

3. Office 365

For a limited time, the Surface 3 includes a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal, which is a $70 value. That effectively brings the actual price of the entry-level Surface 3 down to $430, and it means that the lucky student who receives the Surface 3 as a graduation gift will be prepared with all of the tools they'll need to succeed, including unlimited cloud storage on OneDrive and free Skype minutes to call home and ask their parents to send money.

4: Discounts*

Students get an extra 10% education discount, so the Surface 3 starts at only $450 instead of $500. The discount also applies to accessories, so the Surface 3 Type Cover is only $117, and the Surface Pen is only $45 for students.

Microsoft is also offering a promotion for a limited time in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico that make the Surface 3 a virtual no-brainer. Microsoft will take the old Surface as a trade-in and provide a credit of up to $150 toward a new Surface 3. Combined with the 10% student discount, that means a student can trade in an older Surface model and get a new Surface 3 for as little as $300 (or $230 if you also consider the value of Office 365).

* Be sure to check the Microsoft site for any restrictions that may apply.

The bottom line

The Surface 3 is a great value, and it would be an awesome graduation gift for graduates this year. Do you agree? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

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