Calling it "the tablet that can replace your laptop," Microsoft announced today the Surface Pro 3. At 9.1mm thick, the company claims that it's the thinnest Intel Core-powered system ever made. It now sports a range of Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, instead of the i5 in the Surface Pro 2. It retains the Surface hinge, but it's been re-designed to be a friction hinge that looks able to hold in almost any position, up to 150 degrees.
In spite of the thinness, it's faster than the current Surface Pro 2. The screen is a 3:2 ratio 2160×1440 12-inch part, with the highest contrast ratios in the industry.
It's still not fanless, but with a newly designed fan that's apparently 30 percent more efficient than any other fan, owners should neither hear the fan nor feel the breeze from the vents around the edge. Battery life is said to be some 15 to 20 percent better than any other Surface. It's nonetheless light, at about 800 grams.
It comes with a new set of Type Cover accessories. This time they'll include a trackpad that's actually good, 68 percent larger than the old one, and with greatly reduced friction. The Type Covers have a new magnetic latching system to make the connection to the screen more rigid, which Microsoft says enhances the stability when using the device on the lap; this has previously been one of the bigger sore points with the Surface.
As with previous Surface Pros, the Surface Pro 3 supports pen input. The pen and ink experience has been improved by making the display even thinner, so that the ink appears at the pen tip, with minimal parallax. Clicking the pen, similar to clicking a retractable ballpoint, turns the Surface Pro 3 on and goes instantly to OneNote for immediate writing support. Similarly, clicking the pen within the camera app will take a picture and stick that immediately in OneNote so it can be annotated.
Unlike the passive stylus of the previous models, the new pen is a complicated thing. It's an aluminum pen with both a AAA battery and a pair of coin cells, and it connects using Bluetooth.
Prices start at $799. Pre-orders open on May 21, and retail availability begins on June 20.
The device won't be configurable as such, instead, as with its predecessor, offering a range of preset configurations.
The newly designed Type Cover will cost $129.99. Surface Pro 3 will come with a pen in the box, and replacements can be bought for $49.99. A Surface Pro 3-sized version of the Surface Pro docking station will add three USB 3 ports, two USB 2 ports, gigabit Ethernet, audio input and output, and a mini-DisplayPort connector for $199.99. A Surface-branded USB 3 gigabit Ethernet adaptor will cost $39.99.