Microsoft today finally took the wraps off, not the Surface mini but what can you do, the Surface Pro 3, 12 inch tablet that’s finally ready to take on the laptops of the world. The Surface is already easily the most productive tablet in existent, but now things get even better with the Surface Pro 3.
Whilst the Surface has been focused on competing with tablets as a focus, the Surface Pro 3 finally puts the focus on laptops. Why? Well, it turns out 96% of iPad users also have a laptop, meaning nearly all tablet users feel they require a laptop/PC/Mac to, as Microsoft put it, get stuff done.
Tablets are designed for sitting back, relaxing, watch movies etc, whereas a laptop is designed to get stuff done. Whilst that is a bold thing for Microsoft to claim, it’s kind of true. Whether you own an iPad or an Android tablet, you likely have a laptop as well to keep things going, meaning you’ve two devices at least to do generally what one device should be able to do, so why can’t it?
Here it is, the Surface Pro 3. A device as thin and as light as a Surface 2, but with the increased power of the Intel Core family, all at just 800 grams. The Surface Pro 3 is actually the thinnest Intel Core product ever, even with the Type Cover on it retains that. Surface Pro 3 continues the Dolby Surround integration, but now with 45% louder front-facing speakers.
Let’s run through the specifications of the Surface Pro 3
- Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 64-bit Processors with Windows 8.1 Pro
- 12 inch (3 x 2 aspect ratio) 2160 x 1440 display
- 4GB or 8GB RAM
- Up to 512GB Flash Storage
- 9.1mm thin
- New Docking Station available (Includes ability to output up to 4K)
- Compatible with older gen Accessories
- Up to 9 hours battery life* (i7 model less)
- Multi-Friction Kickstand
NEW ASPECT RATIO
Instead of sticking to the traditional 16.9 aspect ratio, or 16.10 if you live in the past like Apple’s MacBook Pro line, Microsoft have made a strange change to a 3.2 aspect ratio. What this means maybe a positive, and maybe a negative depending on your use cases. What it does mean is that the Surface Pro 3 has a less of a widescreen display, which could hinder video playing, although it’s never bothered iPad users on 4.3 aspect ratio, but will be good as fitting more productivity on a 12 inch display, to the point at which on a regular use case you’ll actually be able to do more on the 12 inch Surface Pro 3 than a 13 inch MacBook Air. We’ll have to see in person whether this is a positive or negative move by Microsoft.
The kickstand on the Surface Pro 2 went from one position to two, but the Surface Pro 3 takes things up to eleven, thanks to a multi-friction kickstand. The kickstand can literally go from the top position currently in the first and second generation Surface devices, all the way down to an incredible 150 degree angle.
What’s interesting about the kickstand, is that instead of it clipping in to selective positions, on the kickstand in the Surface Pro 3, you can literally push it to whatever position you wish. We can’t wait to check this out in person to see how it does.
NEW TYPE COVER
Being a new display size, Microsoft have created a new Type Cover for the Surface Pro 3, and with it focused on two things previously seemingly forgotten about, “lap-ability” and trackpad.
Lap-ability – Microsoft spoke of the challenge of lap-ability on Surface devices, and with Surface Pro 3, Microsoft feel they’ve finally perfected it. On top of the new kickstand that can adjust in never before possible ways, the keyboard can now mount itself on to the bottom bezel of the Surface, as shown in the picture above. Not only does this keep the keyboard on an upright position perfect for typing things down, it will massively help with keeping the Surface stably on your lap.
Trackpad – If you’ve used any Surface accessory, you’ll see people credit the keyboard, touch screen, performance etc, but never the trackpad. Microsoft evidently realise this, and have made it the key focus of the Type Cover 3 for Surface Pro 3. The trackpad is 68% bigger, optimised for gestures such as scrolling, and key focus of any trackpad, precision. Oh, and it clicks too, YES, this Trackpad is actually useable and decent, finally!
NEW SURFACE PEN
Microsoft have also announced a new Pen alongside the Surface Pro 3. The new Pen is just as thick as a traditional Pen instead of being thinner and feeling like a stylus, and has a clickable button up top which can be used for a couple of note taking shortcuts, which we’ll get to shortly.
The Pen and display has also been optimised to get rid of that un-necessary parallax affect, where you write somewhere and watch it trail millimetres away, no more with Surface Pro 3.
Microsoft have two aces up their sleeves with the Surface Pro 3 and its Pen, one of them involved Adobe. Adobe came on stage and previewed a new version of Photoshop optimised for touch and Pen input, a trend likely to make its way to their other software too.
The key visible change in the new Photoshop demoed is native support for Windows scaling, which is commonly used on displays with high pixels per inch, but something Adobe programs have previously had problems with.
Microsoft’s next ace was with OneNote. Using the Pen, you can now double click the pen to instantly create a OneNote document, even when your computer is locked. The two examples Microsoft showed;
- From the lock screen: If your Surface Pro 3 is locked, no worries, double click the Pen, the Surface Pro 3 will instantly open a new OneNote document. Double click again to save, and your Surface Pro 3 will return to its locked state. During this, you will not be able to view files or do anything other, until you do unlock, as security.
- From anyway on the OS: Microsoft demoed this by browsing a website, then by double clicking the Pen, a screenshot of the display entered a new OneNote document, at which you could crop, add ink and more with the Pen directly in to the document.
So, there you have it, the Surface Pro 3, not the Surface Mini all the “experts” said would come, but what we are left is an incredible tablet, with a key focus on laptops as the focus.
One thing we didn’t mention, but touched on in the bullets is the new Docking Station, we’ll write about then when it becomes available.