Over in the good ol’ US of A, Microsoft has just been busy showing off the latest version of its Surface Pro tablet to enthusiastic applause worthy of the great Ballmer himself. And while the Surface Pro 3 may sound like a mere plus one to the ever expanding range, there’s more to it than just a number.
The most noticeable difference is that the display of the Surface Pro 3 has grown from 10.6 inches in the first two generations to full 12 inches in the Surface Pro 3. The display resolution has also gone from a merely full HD (1920×1080), to a Retina-like 2160×1440. That also means that it’s in an iPad like 3:2 aspect ratio. It’s this change in aspect ratio along with better native scaling in Windows 8.1 that will, according to Microsoft, allow for 6% more stuff to be seen on the Surface Pro 3’s screen than you can fit ona 13 inch MacBook Air’s display. Apparently.
The new Surface Pro 3 also manages to shave off some weight from its 900 gram predecessor, and tips the scales at just 800 grams despite the increase in size. It manages this by narrowing the chassis down to just 9.1mm (the Pro 2 was 13.5mm thick).
One of the Surface’s most iconic design features has always been its kickstand which snaps out of the back of the tablet to allow it to freely stand on a table or your lap. With the Surface Pro 2 Microsoft gave the tablet’s kickstand a second angle to allow for a flatter angle after customers complained about it being top heavy and falling over when positioned on their laps to type. The Surface Pro 3 now includes a variable stand that starts at the same 22 degree angle that its predecessors both did but can now go back and stay at any angle up to 150 degrees making for an almost flat writing surface (more puns).
It’s powered by Intel’s current generation of Haswell processors which offer fantastic battery life and powerful graphics capabilities. It will be available in three processor configurations with an Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processor on offer. In introducing the device to the media, Microsoft’s Panos Panay said that they Redmond based software giant had worked so closely with Intel on the Surface Pro 3 that it had felt like the “closest thing to a technical love affair that I can think of”.
The rest of the hardware specs are 64GB-512GB of flash based storage which can be expanded with a microSD cadrd and either 4GB or 8GB of RAM along with a full-sized USB 3.0 port and a Mini Display port to output to an external display.
There are a host of accessories launching with the Surface Pro 3 too. These include a revised version of the snap-on keyboard which has a vastly improved trackpad that is, again according to Microsoft, 68% larger according to Panos (or 63% on the official site) and offers 78% less friction than that of the Surface 2’s which was generally disliked by reviewers. There is also a docking station which offers a 4k video output to satisfy the pixel hungry among its potential customer base.
The new Surface Pro 3 stylus is designed to look and feel like a typical pen which is used to, you guessed it, write notes on the tablet. On the back of the pen is a button which, when clicked, launches Microsoft’s cloud note taking app, OneNote, so that you can quickly jot down an idea before another click sends the note off to the interwebs to be saved into your SkyDrive account. From the demonstration at the launch event the concept works rather seemlessly and fast enough that using paper and finding a pen would take just as long if not linger.
The Surface Pro 3 will go on pre-order in the US and Canada as of tomorrow starting at $799 and will be available in 26 additional countries by the end of August not including South Africa at this time unfortunately.
(The other countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.)