The company might be billing the Surface Pro 3 as a tablet, but we think it's really a convertible that is at last light enough to be useful.
Several years ago, Microsoft was keen on the idea of 'convertible' notebook computers that could be used conventionally or folded back and used with a stylus in 'slate' configuration.
The company might be billing the Surface Pro 3 as a tablet, but we think it's really a convertible laptop that is at last light enough to be useful.
Announced overnight and due to ship by the end of August, the Surface Pro 3 runs 'real' Windows 8.1 Pro (as opposed to Windows RT on the Surface 2 with its limited software compatibility) and comes with a pressure-sensitive stylus (the Surface Pen).
But even though prices start at $979 for the 64GB model with an Intel i3 processor and go up to $2279 for the 512GB with i7 configuration, that doesn't include the Type Cover (keyboard). Microsoft hasn't revealed the price of the new Surface Pro 3 Type Cover that includes a larger trackpad, but as a guide the Surface Pro Type Cover 2 costs a hefty $149.99.
The Surface Pro 3 is a fraction over 9mm thick, measures approximately 29x20cm, and weighs just under 0.8kg. Tellingly, Microsoft is positioning the Surface Pro 3 against the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, not the iPad.
Other features include a 12in, 2160x1440 pixel touchscreen (that's an unusual 3:2 aspect ratio, similar to a sheet of A4 paper), 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, dual HD cameras, and stereo microphones and speakers. The battery is said to be good for "up to nine hours of web browsing".
Surface Pro 3 also includes USB 3.0, microSD, and Mini DisplayPort interfaces, so you can plug in your existing peripherals, use the memory card from your phone or camera, and connect an external monitor with a cable rather than a special adaptor, assuming it too has a DisplayPort interface.
Other optional accessories include an Ethernet adaptor and a docking station with as-yet unspecified features.
Panos Panay, the Microsoft executive in charge of Surface said "Surface Pro 3 is the tablet that can replace your laptop" - the idea is tempting, but we'll let you know if we agree once we've had a chance to try it for ourselves.