On Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled the next step in its attempt at self-branded device proliferation by announcing the Surface Pro 3. The Surface Pro 3 (Paul has a preview HERE) is a larger, lighter, and more powerful sibling to the Surface Pro series.
Up to now, Microsoft has yet to turn a profit its Surface tablets and really has become a sort of black hole for the company. The hope is that the Surface Pro 3 can change that. The past couple years have shown that businesses are finally catching onto the Surface wave, if still in a limited fashion, so it's really no surprise that Microsoft is now focusing more heavily on the tablet series that runs a full version of Windows 8.x instead of the hampered Windows RT version. Surface Pro 3 is being marketed as a full laptop replacement, but the staggering price of the tablet means that only businesses have the cash to outlay for a premium device. Of course, there's a catch and one that doesn't seem to have entered into Microsoft's marketing message. A full laptop replacement, to me, means it does exactly what a laptop can do straight out of the box. However, as with previous models, a keyboard is an extra buy. So, it’s a confusing message and one I'm sure won't sit well with a clearly thinking business sector.
However, the Surface Pro 3 is already being lauded by the industry as a success, which could be a bit presumptuous. As a gadget geek I'm thoroughly interested to obtain a Surface Pro 3, even if just for testing. But once the new tablet smell wears off, will the Surface Pro 3 be enough to raise Microsoft devices from an early grave? We'll see.
There are 5 different models of the Surface Pro 3, each with different specs and pricing to match. Preorder started today, with some models showing as not shipping until the end of August 2014.
The models are:
- Intel Core i3, 64GB and 4GB of RAM = $799
- Intel Core i5, 128 GB and 4B of RAM = $999
- Intel Core i5, 256 GB and 8B of RAM = $1,299
- Intel Core i7, 256 GB and 8B of RAM = $1,549
- Intel Core i7, 512 GB and 8B of RAM = $1,949
Each model weighs in around 1.7 lbs and has a 12", 10-point multi-touch screen with a resolution of 2160 x 1440. Earlier versions of the Surface Pro provided only a 10.6" screen. Battery life is much improved over the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, touting up to 9 hours, depending on the activity. Around the bezel, Microsoft is providing a USB 3.0 port, microSD card reader, Headset jack, and a mini display port. For those frustrated by the power connector of earlier models, the magnetic connector has been revamped to enable easier "click-in" capability. The Surface Pro 3 comes with a new Surface Pen (no longer called a stylus) that takes advantage of a Bluetooth connection to enable additional features. The pen is built on N-Trig technology instead of Wacom allowing it to better mimic a real, ink-based pen. One of the pen's new features is the ability to click the pen's top button to automatically wake the Surface Pro and launch OneNote. Double-click the button and a screenshot is captured. A revamped kickstand allows even more viewing angles than was introduced in the series 2 line and provides what Microsoft calls a "canvas mode" that puts the tablet at a 150-degree angle which is great for inking.
Microsoft has also announced some initial Surface Pro 3 specific accessories. Availability for the accessories is also questionable. They are:
- Surface Pro Type Cover = $129.99
- Additional Surface Pen = $49.99
- Additional 36W Power Supply = $79.99
- Additional Pen Loop = $4.99
- Docking Station = $199.99
- Surface Ethernet Adapter = $39.99