Microsoft unveils $799 Surface Pro 3, calls it 'the tablet that can replace your laptop'

in General Discussion edited May 2014
In a presentation that frequently mentioned the iPad and MacBook Air, Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled the Surface Pro 3, a device it hopes will contend with both Apple's popular tablets and thin-and-light notebooks with one converged device that will start at $799.

In unveiling the new laptop-tablet hybrid, Microsoft Surface chief Panos Panay noted that most people in the crowd were typing on Apple MacBooks, and many of those likely had an iPad in their bag. He also cited statistics that showed that 96 percent of iPad owners also own a laptop.

Panay then brought out the Surface Pro 3, an Intel-powered device that he said can meet the needs of both a laptop and a tablet in one touchscreen form factor. The redesigned Surface Pro runs full Windows 8, and starts at $799 with an Intel Core i3 processor, while more powerful configurations of Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs will also be available. It goes on sale Wednesday.

In another comparison to Apple, Panay had a scale onstage where he weighed a 13-inch MacBook Air in contrast to the new Surface Pro 3, which comes in lighter at just 800 grams but also sports a smaller 12-inch screen. Panay said that despite having a smaller display, the Surface Pro 3 view 6 percent more content than on a 13-inch MacBook Air, thanks to the aspect ratio of the display as well as Microsoft's optimization of Windows 8.

At 9.1-millimeters thin, the Surface Pro 3 is the thinnest Intel Core product ever made. It also has a new cooling design with a fan Microsoft says is 30 percent more efficient than any other on the market, radially emitting air throughout so that users cannot feel, hear or see the fan at work.

Another change to the Surface Pro 3 is a redesigned "full-friction" kickstand that allows the device to be propped up at a variety of angles.

Panay also talked about how "lapability" of portable devices is critical, and is one aspect where previous versions of the Surface lineup fell short. With the new kickstand and a removable keyboard cover that magnetically attaches to the bottom of the screen, Panay said the Surface Pro 3 is more stable on a user's lap than before.

Another accessory shown off by Microsoft was a new pen with 256 points of pressure compatible with the latest Surface Pro. Microsoft hyped the ability to place one's hand against the screen and write with a pen that feels natural for note taking and drawing.

One key use of the pen showcased by the company was for a new version of Photoshop CC designed for Windows 8 and Surface Pro 3. Adobe took the stage to demonstrate how users can combine the use of the pen and their fingers for multi-touch control when editing images.

Microsoft's pen also clicks on the top, much like a regular retractable pen that would be used for paper. Clicking it immediately opens up Microsoft OneNote on the Surface, so a user can begin writing down their thoughts instantly.

In another demonstration, Panay double-clicked the pen's button to take a screenshot, which was then immediately opened in OneNote. Panay then used the pen to crop the image, and began to draw on it. Once saved, the note then synced to Microsoft's cloud services.

As PC sales have slumped and Windows 8 has been met with criticism, Microsoft has bet heavily on "converged" devices like the Surface, seeing the future of PCs offering the best of both a tablet and a laptop. But sales of the Surface have floundered against more tailored options like Apple's iPad and MacBook lineups.

In comments made in April of 2012, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said Windows 8-style tablet PC convergence devices are not likely to please most users. The CEO compared combining a laptop and a tablet to arbitrarily selling a refrigerator with toaster functions tacked on the side.

The Surface Pro lineup represents the high end of Microsoft's custom-built tablet hardware, featuring Intel processors with full-fledged versions of Windows. The company also sells a less expensive Surface model with an ARM processor that runs a stripped-down operating system dubbed Windows RT.

AppleInsider spent some time with the Surface RT 2 and Type Cover 2 accessory last fall, and found that while some functions like simultaneous multitasking were an improvement from Apple's iPad, the device was still too unwieldy to use on a lap and not fully functional enough to replace a laptop.



  • Reply 1 of 185
    jd mbajd mba Posts: 38member
    Hmmm, not bad...
  • Reply 2 of 185
    ingelaingela Posts: 217member
    step in the right direction, especially the price. If the want to move these suckers that was the smartest move. Look forward to pressure sensitivity and a digitizer on future iPads.
  • Reply 3 of 185
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,367member
    Looks like a nice device. Like a said on another post, I like the Surface Pro, but it's a heavy beast. However, comparing a tablet to a laptop... yes of course the tablet should be lighter. But compare that to an iPad Air. The Surface Pro is too heavy to be a true tablet. That's why they keep moving it towards the laptop category.

    However, it can't replace a laptop if you can't use it on your lap with a floppy keyboard. Have you tried to use a Surface on your lap? That's why it's called a Surface... because you need to place it on a surface, not a lap. Also, if it has a fan, it's not a tablet.

    If Apple comes out with an iPad Pro with a 12" screen, this thing is DOA.
  • Reply 4 of 185
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,622moderator

    It's not the screen size or the weight that matters most.


    To be a great tablet, it's about the touch interface and the ecosystem of software.  So it's not a big competitor of the iPad.


    To be a great laptop, it's about the performance and optimizing the user interface, which means the keyboard and trackpad.  So it's not a big competitor to the MacBook Air.


    It's yet another tweener from Microsoft.  NEXT!

  • Reply 5 of 185
    zabazaba Posts: 226member
    All they need is a decent OS. They need to focus on this as running 2 separate operating systems on 1 device is totally counter intuitive.
  • Reply 6 of 185
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,613member

    If they're going to compare the weight of Surface Pro with the MacBook Air, they should've at least included the keyboard cover.




     He also cited statistics that showed that 96 percent of iPad owners also own a laptop


    Of course they do... most of these people know the benefits of having the right tool for the right job even if those "jobs" are similar.


    I have a breaker bar and a ratcheting socket wrench, why? Because a ratcheting socket wrench is a lot quicker, but if you apply too much force to one, you can break it - that's what a breaker bar is for.

  • Reply 7 of 185
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,367member
    If the pen really solves the age-old parallax issue, I'll be infinitely impressed.
  • Reply 8 of 185
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Might give their OEM partners some laptop competition. But I still can't see the masses using this as a tablet. And the fact is most people these days don't need a tablet to be a full featured as a laptop. I can't remember the last time I used my laptop. If Apple adds more productivity features to iOS (like split window multitasking) I don't see Surface getting much traction outside of Microsoft diehards. Plus it runs Windows. I would imagine a lot of people who use the. MacBook Air so because they prefer OSX to Windows.

    The other reason I don't know how much traction this will get is price. The base model is $799 and I think it goes all the way up to $1900+. Those may be totally legit prices for the specs but in the Wintel space people are accustomed to much cheaper prices. And on the tablet side it will also be competing with Android tablets that are a lot cheaper than $799. Again I just don't see how many converts Microsoft will get. If anything it will just take share from their OEM partners.

    Honestly I think Microsoft spent more time talking about MacBook Air today than any of their products. :lol:

    And whatever happened to the Surface mini we kept hearing about? That was supposed to be the iPad mini killer yet we heard nothing about it and I see most tech blogs are pretending they never predicted it. Strange.
  • Reply 9 of 185
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 770editor

    Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post


    If they're going to compare the weight of Surface Pro with the MacBook Air, they should've at least included to the keyboard cover.



    Just to clarify, Panay did add the keyboard to the Surface Pro on the scale later in the presentation in order to show that it was still lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air. The keyboard wasn't formally unveiled until after he had placed the Surface on the scale.

  • Reply 10 of 185
    It's runs Windows. Windows is dead. I expect to see as many of these in the wild as I did Zunes.
  • Reply 11 of 185
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member
    So it sounds as though RT is dead.

    And the new Surface 3 goes click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click? Oh, OK. I get it.
  • Reply 12 of 185
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,042member

    but it still uses windows... enough said

  • Reply 13 of 185

     calls it 'the tablet that can replace your laptop'


    Dear Microsoft,

    You are 4 years too late with the idea that tablets replace laptops.



    Also, loved the apples-to-surfaces comparison of a notebook to a tablet.  I'm guessing the MacBook Air is also heavier than the iPad... another tablet which, for some, could replace a laptop.


    The ironic thing is that iPad Air is 469g and Surface Pro 3 is 800g.  I'm trying to envision how those two offerings would look on the scales...  (and yes, I know that Surface Pro runs the desktop version of Windows; based on sales of previous Surface Pro versions that's not a huge differentiator for a tablet in most consumers minds, so I think it's a fair apples-to-Apples comparison).

  • Reply 14 of 185
    nobodyynobodyy Posts: 377member

    Ugh, back in with the fans. 


    Not that I would instantly hate it - Assuming that it is silent and doesn't rock the device itself. But it does mean moving pars and a higher chance of issues and failure, especially on a device with no seated orientation (but maybe so with Windows?) - something I am very happy Apple eliminated from their tablets.

  • Reply 15 of 185
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Nice improvement but the main presenter came across so douchie. His speak would have been better for a late night infomercial convincing the sleep deprived elderly to part with their money.
  • Reply 16 of 185
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member

    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

    If the pen really solves the age-old parallax issue, I'll be infinitely impressed.


    Hmm, iOS 7 introduced the parallax effect.  What if this was a stepping stone for pen support in iOS 8?

  • Reply 17 of 185
    ezhikezhik Posts: 101member

    I love it. 

  • Reply 18 of 185
    ceek74ceek74 Posts: 324member

    Praying it still comes with the kickstand...checking...YUP!  Awesome!  Good to go now.  Maybe I can develop some cargo pants that have a built-in shelf on the front of the pant legs.  /s

  • Reply 19 of 185
    nobodyynobodyy Posts: 377member
    razorpit wrote: »
    Hmm, iOS 7 introduced the parallax effect.  What if this was a stepping stone for pen support in iOS 8?

    Unfortunately, the parallax here is not an animation behavior in software, but the pen writing not where the tip "is". It's the result of the space between the glass, the touch layer, and the screen underneath all adding gap above the pen.
    This is what they meant they solved, I believe.
  • Reply 20 of 185
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    If the pen really solves the age-old parallax issue, I'll be infinitely impressed.

    I don't recall him saying the pen solved that issue, but rather the display being very close to the glass that resolved it.
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