Microsoft has announced the latest addition to its range of Surface tablets, promising that the new Surface Pro 3 will finally be able to replace both laptops and tablets.
The Pro 3 remains visually similar to Microsoft’s previous Surface devices, but offers a larger, 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a faster, more power-efficient Intel Core i7 processor.
In a press event hosted in New York and streamed over the internet, Microsoft’s Surface head Panos Panay said that the company wanted to take away consumers’ “conflict” about "being told to buy a tablet when they know they need a laptop".
The new Surface is just 9.1mm thick, which is thinner than the iPad 4 (9.4mm) and weighs just 800 grams, significantly less than a 13-inch MacBook Air, which weighs 1.35kg. This means the new Pro 3 isn’t as lightweight or slim as the most advanced tablets, but it’s not far off while managing to offer the computing power of a laptop.
Microsoft has also re-engineered the device's kickstand to improve its “lapability” ('Don't laugh,' said Panay after he used the term). As well as the original laptop mode and 22-degree angle (fairly upright, like a picture frame) there’s also a new “canvas mode”; a 150-degree angle that lets users lean right over the device.
The company has also re-designed the Type Cover – the attachable keyboard that functions as a cover, making the trackpad 68 per cent larger and improving how it attaches to the display to create a more convincing laptop experience.
Microsoft's Surface Pro 3: A tablet to replace the laptop
Speaking at the event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stressed that the company was “not building hardware for hardware’s sake” but wanted to create “experiences that bring together all of the capabilities of our company”.
Nadella said that the company wanted to achieve the “alchemy of bringing hardware and software together,” a design ethos that has become almost mythical amongst device geeks and that Apple’s mobile products have been consistently praised for.
Will Microsoft achieve this? Unfortunately the appeal of the new Surface - as beautiful looking and light as it is - will almost certainly hinge on users' feelings about Windows 8 (click here to read our review of the Pro 2 for our thoughts on Windows 8). Microsoft has updated a lot of features since the operating system's shaky debut, but many will just not feel comfortable with its tile-based interface.
Despite this Microsoft is doing all it can to convince customers, and for those who need a mobile device that can be as productive as a regular computer, the Pro 3 might be worth the trouble. As well as the full-fat processor, keyboard and screen, the Pro has all the legacy Microsoft software that many users can't do without and a new note-taking capabilities for working on the go. It's the best tablet they've made yet, whether it'll beat the laptop remains to be seen.
Prices for the Pro 3 start at $799 (£474) with configurations using i3, i5 and i7 processors. Pre-orders are available from MicrosoftStore.com from 21 May.Reuse content