Can the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 really offer the best of both worlds?

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014. Filed under: Apps Entertainment Games Home & Garden Online Science & Technology
Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 has a starting price of $799. ©Microsoft

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 has a starting price of $799.

(Relaxnews) – The latest addition to Microsoft’s growing tablet range boasts a 12-inch screen, an all-day battery and a perfect blend of productivity and entertainment use.

At the official launch event in New York on Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella set the scene by explaining that the reason why the company moved into the tablet space was not to compete with the likes of Apple and Android, but to offer consumers a device that can give them the best features of a tablet and the benefits of a notebook or laptop computer. But without compromises.

And the end result, the Surface Pro 3 is indeed impressive, on paper at least. Introduced to the assembled journalists by corporate vice president for Surface Computing Panos Panay, the new 12-inch tablet was described as the device that helps people avoid having to take a gamble on buying either a tablet or notebook computer. He claims that because of the two often very different use scenarios — “tablets are designed for you to sit back and watch movies, snacking on apps. Laptops are not designed that way at all,” he said — many people face a fork in the high-tech road where they will have to choose one device or the other. This problem is also why 96 percent of iPad owners also have a laptop.

However, the Surface Pro 3 is a notebook disguised as a tablet and a tablet that’s as powerful as a notebook.

As such, the Surface Pro 3 promises all-day battery life, a super-slim design (just 9.1mm thick) yet as the rumors before the event correctly suggested, boasts a 12-inch screen so in terms of form factor, it will feel like a notebook, especially when propped up by the kickstand and being used with the touch cover keyboard.

But Microsoft has done much more than simply up the screen size and put the device on a diet. The new kickstand design means that the device can be propped up in any angle (rather than just the two positions with Surface devices of old) so it almost behaves like a notebook clamshell. It also packs a very impressive Intel Core i7 chip, so it has some serious processing power. Yet it only weighs 800g making it lighter than a MacBook Air.

But great as Microsoft is at writing PC operating systems and getting companies to write software that can run on the operating system, so far it’s been less successful at attracting developers to its platforms in order to offer the sorts of apps that iPad and Android tablet owners take for granted.

And while Microsoft didn’t address this app-based inequality, it did highlight how it has been working with a host of companies to develop special versions of their software that are optimized to make the most of the latest Surface, including Adobe which has improved on Photoshop to make the most of the device’s digital pen input and touch-screen interface.

Likewise it has roped in Final Draft, the professional screenwriting software maker, in the hopes of making the device appealing to leading creatives as well as CEOs and road warriors.

And consumers eager to find out how well the promise lives up to the reality won’t have long to wait. Microsoft will start taking orders for the Surface 3 Pro on Wednesday, with prices starting at $799 for an ‘entry level’ core i3 processor model. Customers will also be able to configure the device with a core i5 chip and the i7 chip running in the demo device and to select hard disk sizes and the amount of RAM on board.


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