Microsoft Surface Pro 3: preview


WhistleOut
21 May 2014

It seems like only yesterday that Microsoft was lifting the curtain on the first-generation of Surface tablets, and yet today the computer giant repeated the motions to unveil its third attempt at tablet computers — the Surface Pro 3.

Unlike in previous years, the Surface conversation today wasn’t muddied by Microsoft offering watered-down Windows RT versions of the Surface alongside the Pro versions everyone is after. The Surface Pro 3 is definitely more computer than tablet.

In fact, that is the pitch for this latest generation. Microsoft is calling this “the tablet that can replace your laptop” which is a promise we’ve been hoping to hear from tablet manufacturers for a long time. Despite the popularity of tablet-style computers, the performance and capabilities of devices like the iPad leave tablets in an awkward middle-ground between phone and laptop — devices which many people in the Western world own already.

With Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 options, the Surface Pro 3 might just be the device which untethers us from our (still) heavy notebooks. Its 12-inch full-HD display is on par with (if a touch smaller) than the screens in most popular Ultrabook machines, but its 798-gram weight is 20- or 30-percent lighter.

That said, 800-grams is almost twice as heavy as a number of the 10-inch tablets we’ve reviewed at WhistleOut lately, namely the excellent Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet. It will also be a far bit more expensive, so you’ll want to hope you’re replacing a laptop and not an iPad Air.

Pricing

Microsoft has identified 5 different hardware SKUs for the Surface Pro 3: one Core i3 base model, two Core i5s and two Core i7s, with pricing starting from US$949. The prices do step up quite steeply from there, with the top-line model to sell for $2279 with a Core i7, 8GB RAM and a 512GB SSD.

Outlook

Though the Surface 3 fits under a Tablet categorisation, it will ultimately appeal to laptop shoppers, and then only those with a little money to spend on their new computer.

It is definitely a device which Apple needs to keep an eye on, with the capability of stealing away both iPad and MacBook Air customers. Which is to say, it is a device that all computer makers need to be wary of.


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