Microsoft have just announced Surface Pro 3 around 9 months after Surface Pro 2 was released. The new version of Surface is very different from the previous version yet so familiar. You will still know it is a Surface by looking at the design but the improvement here and there is so thorough that it is almost better in every aspect.

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There are two types of Surface, one running Windows 8 RT with ARM processor (Surface RT and Surface 2) and the other one running full Windows 8 with x86 processor(Surface Pro Series). Microsoft marketed them as tablets that can truly replace your laptop but the response from consumers isn’t as hot as they wish. Honestly I have been giving all Microsoft Surface a ‘meh‘ before this, especially Surface RT. But this time its different.  en-INTL-L-Surface-128GB-MQ2-00001-mnco

The major difference here is the screen. Surface Pro 3 has a 12″ Full HD display with a resolution of 2160 x 1440 instead of the 10.6″ screen found in older Surface. The screen has higher pixel density and higher contrast. Apart from growing the size for better multitasking and productivity, the more important part is the direction of screen growth (not literally). Microsoft has ditched the 16:9 aspect ratio changed it to 3:2.  16:9 ratio is probably one part I hate the most in older Surface as you can’t use it properly in portrait orientation as the screen is too long and all the contents looked so awkward. In the launching event, Microsoft stated it has the same aspect ratio as paper, the thing you would write on and work on everyday and certainly it is a good choice.

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The thing that always come with the paper? The pen. The pen which is included with Surface Pro 3 purchase for free has been improved. They changed the material to a more premium choice and make it feels more substantial, more like a real pen that you would use. Other than the little details, Microsoft did not forget to pack in the new feature. The pen now has a purple button on its end like normal pen do. Clicking it will bring up OneNote for you to write down your idea that pops out suddenly, even when the Surface is locked and no unlocking is needed. When you’re using the camera app, you can click the button on the pen twice and a photo will be taken and pasted to OneNote where you can crop the part you want and start scribble on it. Notes made in OneNote can  be synced to OneDrive and you can get them in every device you have. The pen also has 256 levels of pressure sensitivity to detect how hard you write and draw, making it even more like a real pen.

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Speaking of accessories, there’s a newly designed type cover. The improvement here is the larger and smoother trackpad which receive tons of complaints and the additional hinge below the connector. The additional hinge allows the magnetic part of the cover to be attached at the bottom edge of Surface Pro 3, giving the type cover better angle to type on. This will make the cover attached firmly on Surface, making it more like a laptop. This is probably the reason why they move the start button from the bottom to right hand side.

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Just  now I mentioned about increasing the screen size from 10.6″ to 12″ and the device will grow wider and longer, but not thicker and heavier. In fact, Surface Pro 3 is the lightest and thinnest device with Intel Core processor ever made, even with the new type cover which will be covered later. It is 800g heavy and only 9.1mm thick, way thinner than the 13.5mm thick Surface Pro 2. They did not sacrifice the battery life for the dimension. The battery life has gone up to 9 hours from the 7 hours life in Surface Pro 2.

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Improvement can be found on the kickstand. In first generation there is only one angle available and in the second generation they add other larger angle. This time, Microsoft designed a new mechanism where you can choose any angle up to a near flat 150 degrees. This will be very useful if you work with your Surface on multiple positions like placing them on table, on your lap, with or without the type cover. They also claimed that the new front facing stereo speaker to be 45% louder. Both cameras have been upgraded to 5MP shooters with 1080p HD video recording capability.

The Surface Pro 2 and 3 are powered by Intel fourth generation Haswell processor but this time you have the option to choose between i3, i5 and i7 cores apart from different storage size. For different level of raw power comes with different price tags:

  • Intel Core i3 |   64 GB | 4GB  RAM | $799 ( RM 2570)
  • Intel Core i5 | 128 GB | 4GB  RAM | $999 (RM 3210)
  • Intel Core i5 | 256 GB | 8GB  RAM | $1299 (RM4170)
  • Intel Core i7 | 256 GB | 8GB  RAM | $1549 (RM4980)
  • Intel Core i7 | 512 GB | 8GB  RAM | $1949 (RM6270)

Surface Pro 3 has started to be pre-ordered in the US and it will be launched in Malaysia in August. You can visit their page for more info.

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The price might be too high for you but do remember that it is actually a laptop in a form of tablet. It should be compared to other laptops instead of tablets like iPad.  In the launching event, Microsoft compares it to a MacBook Air and I do find the comparison very suitable. It is lighter and cheaper than MacBook Air but it is still a fully usable laptop-like tablet.  You should able to do anything on Surface as it is meant to be replacing them. I agree that tablet should be a larger thing than gaming and media device and they should help you in creating things, not only to enjoy things on it.

Surface Pro 3 is a solid upgrade over the last generation and I do feel tempted to own one for the first time. The new screen size, the pen and all the details are well thought and probably fix almost every problem in older Surface. Finally I will feel like I want to work with a Surface. However, if Microsoft really want its Surface to sell like hotcakes, they probably need more work to educate the confused people about their vision – there is no boundaries between a tablet and a laptop and they are ultimately the same thing.