Microsoft’s next Surface is a tablet with a 12 inch, 2160 x 1440 pixel display and up to an Intel Core i7 Haswell processor.

The Surface Pro 3 measures 0.36 inches thick and weighs 1.8 pounds, which means that while the screen is bigger than that of the Surface Pro 2, it’s thinner and lighter than its predecessor.

It goes up for pre-order May 21st for $799 and up. There will be models with Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 chips available.


Microsoft says the Surface Pro 3 is 10 percent faster than the Surface Pro 2, has a higher-quality display with a 3:2 aspect ratio, and is a tablet designed to replace your notebook — so that you don’t need to choose between a tablet and a laptop when deciding which product to buy (you know, unless you care about being able to use your device in a single hand).

The system uses has a fan that the company says is silent, and it dissipates air through vents around the sides of the case.

spro3 12

The Surface Pro 3 offers longer battery life than any earlier Surface tablet, and it still offers dual digitizer support for finger or pen input.

Microsoft also offers an optional desktop docking station that adds support for 4K video output, among other thingsspro3_dock_02

Wondering what kind of work you can get done on the Surface Pro 3? Adobe is introducing a next-gen version of Photoshop that’s optimized for finger and pen input for the Surface Pro 3, allowing you to use a stylus to edit your photos and your fingers to interact with the user interface, rotate photos, and perform other basic functions.

The Surface Pro 3 also has a redesigned kickstand which can be adjusted to more angles than the earlier models. It supports a 22 degree angle much like earlier Surface tablets, letting you prop up the screen as if it were a laptop display. But there’s also a canvas mode that lets you push the tablet down to a 150 degree angle for writing, drawing, or using the device propped up on a table.

spro3 canvas

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also took advantage of the Surface Pro 3 launch event to point out that the company doesn’t want to compete with other hardware makers that offer Windows tablets. Instead, the goal of Microsoft’s hardware division is to introduce new categories of devices.

So while Microsoft has previously been expected to introduce a smaller “Surface Mini” tablet, a larger Surface Pro actually makes sense. There really isn’t anything else quite like this on the market — and if other device makers start offering laptop-replacement tablets with laptop-sized displays, I think Microsoft would be happy with that, since it’d help the company sell plenty of Windows licenses.

spro3 laptop

How can a tablet replace a laptop? With a good keyboard that lets you actually use the system on your lap… but rather than taking an Asus Transformer Book 2-in-1 style approach with a laptop-style keyboard that clicks into the tablet, Microsoft redesigned its Type Cover for the Surface Pro 3.

It has a magnetic locking mechanism that latches onto the tablet, allowing you to prop up the tablet using the kickstand, while you position the keyboard in front of the tablet so you can type. Microsoft says it feels a sturdy as a laptop when you actually use it on your lap.

spro3 writing

Microsoft is also emphasizing tablet use. The 3:2 aspect ratio makes it easier to treat the tablet like a piece of paper than Windows tablets with wide-screen, 16:9 pixel displays.

The company has includes a digital pen and palm blocking software that lets you place your palm on the tablet like you would with a piece of paper without worrying about your palm moving a cursor or making marks on the screen.

The pen support 256 points of pressure and Microsoft says there’s nearly no latency or parallax effects… which means when you’re writing, it feels like there’s no distance between the tip of the pen and the marks that you’re drawing, and there should be nearly no delay.

Interestingly, Microsoft has replaced the Wacom digitizer used in earlier models with an N-Trig digitizer.

The Surface Pro 3 pen also has another feature — even when your tablet’s screen is turned off, you can click the pen to wake up the tablet and launch OneNote so you can start writing notes right away, without even unlocking the tablet. You can also click the pen again when you’re done to save your devices to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage so it’ll be synchronized to your phone, desktop, or other devices.

You can also snap a photo with the tablet’s camera and use the pen to annotate it with pictures or text.

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17 replies on “Microsoft introduces the Surface Pro 3 “tablet that can replace a laptop””

  1. Will other pens (Like the old one from Wacom) work on Surface Pro 3?
    And will i be able to remap the buttons? Eraser and select?! Come on…

  2. N-Trig? That will almost certainly be a downgrade. N-Trig has improved their technology substantially, but I don’t think it is better than Wacom yet. This decision must have been made for cost purposes.

    1. Not just cost, performance aside, N-Trig requires less mass because instead of a separate digitizer layer for the pen it instead uses a merged digitizer for both the pen and touch screen… So one less layer to deal with for system makers…

      Add, WACOM digitizers also are active digitizers that generate a EM field that the pen interacts with and is why the Pen doesn’t require a battery… but this means a near constant additional power load on the system…

      Though, a few systems (Samsung Galaxy Note Pro being an example) do have the option to turn off the WACOM digitizer when not in use but most do not… So there’s a small bit of battery life gain by switching to N-Trig… Though, you have to remember to change the battery in the pen every now and then…

      All versus the trade off of a little less pressure sensitivity, less effective palm rejection (separate digitizers means the WACOM system can turn off the touch screen layer to ensure palm rejection when using the pen but N-Trig relies on the less effective software system)…

      While price is a issue with WACOM… since costs increase as surface area increases… So, moving this Surface to a larger 12″ meant a possible significant increase in cost… Thus, why we usually don’t see many offer it aside from either very premium models and/or smaller tablets that in turn require less costly WACOM digitizers…

  3. Wow, 3:2 aspect ratio and a fan that is supposed to be more silent, but will it run linux? Hoping more manufacturers bring out 3:2 displays..

  4. Is N-Trig on the same level as Wacom ? Debating whether I’d want this over the pro 2 for a drawing tablet/laptop.

    1. Yeh, I hate to make a judgement until all the facts are in, but that is a HUGE turn-off for me.

    2. Depends. I used an eval-kit from N-Trig while I was building my own tablet.
      The model I used worked same as the Intuos4 line except for the tilt sensitivity. Intuos4’s pressure sensitivity were overkill anyway. The new one supposedly supports the tilt, but never used one. Just as smooth for most other things.

      Adobe’s CS4 suite supports N-Trig, although you may like to tweak it around a bit. Pen is a tid bit heavier, but of no concern IMO.

      Personally, if you are a serious drawing person-which I’m not, but worked with many of them- you may be better off having this type of tablet and if necessary additional Intuos4 to lug around. With the price on Cintiqs and their subpar LCD panels(yes, even the 13HD) I really have difficulty suggesting it to anyone.

    3. The Pro3’s drawing capabilities are not the deciding factor when it comes to the success of this device. MS is aiming for a much bigger market than that.

  5. The Surface Pro 3 is 1.76lbs (800g) which is actually lighter, not heavier, than the Surface Pro 2 at 2lbs. It has a bigger footprint due to the 12″ vs 10.6″ screen, but is thinner and lighter.

  6. Would like to see the Iris Pro Chipset in this thing but from reports I am reading the device can get pretty hot. At 1.76lbs its not too pad for a tablet especially considering size. The resolution still is risque. My concern is so few apps (I don’t count the anemic metro apps) are scaled properly. If MS can get the apps moving then it has a chance to inspire the Dell’s and Lenovo’s aside of that its a cool POC.

  7. Seems like Microsoft always takes three tries to get anything right. Maybe this will be the one…

      1. IF Nvidia’s 840m figures are reasonably accurate from a power consumption perspective, the 840m would provide a nice dedicated / switchable option without completely trashing battery life, I would think.

        Getting to roughly HD 5200 territory without too much more power than a HD 4400 set-up would be interesting. Nvidia’s never been one to exaggerate… right?

        Of course, would have been even more interesting if Broadwell had been on time….

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