took the wraps off of its new, much-rumored Surface Pro 3
at an event in New York City today, and the key takeaway as far as Microsoft is concerned is that this tablet (when paired with the new Type Cove
r and pen) is designed to replace your laptop. And, for that matter, your tablet.
The Surface Pro 3 offers a relatively large (for the form factor) 12-inch display with a native resolution of 2160x1440 and with what the company claims is the highest contrast ratio in industry. The Surface Pro 3 is just 9.1mm thick and weighs only 800g, and it features a perimeter vent and re-engineered fan that allows it to cool 30% more efficiently than the Surface Pro 2. The Surface Pro 3 comes in three configurations, alternately running a 4th-gen Intel Core-i3, i5, or i7 processor, with Intel HD Graphics 4400; 4GB or 8GB of RAM; and 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of on-board solid state storage.
Both the front and rear cameras are 5MP, and both offer 1080p HD capture.
The Surface Pro 3 also has front-facing speakers that are 45% louder than the Surface Pro 2's, and it has a pen for input and USB 3.0, too. Other ports include a microSD card reader, headset jack, and mini DisplayPort. The kickstand starts at the familiar 22-degree angle, but it can extend all the way to 100 degrees in what Microsoft calls Canvas Mode. When poised on your lap, the new Type Cover features a full-length magnet that attaches to the Surface's bezel, where it connects to the screen for better stability.
The Type Cover itself is even thinner than before, and it features a 68% larger trackpad with slicker surface than the Surface Pro 2's trackpad (according to MS, friction has been reduced by 78%).
Microsoft is proud of its new pen as well. The stylus is designed to feel just like a pen, and the screen’s 3:2 aspect ratio is more like a sheet of paper. You can use your own handwriting on the screen, and the software will actually convert it to digital text. The pen offers low latency input, and because the display layer is so thin, it eliminates parallax--which makes it "feel" like you're actually writing on the glass. And all your notes are backed up in OneNote in the cloud.
Other notable factoids about the Surface Pro 3 include the fact that it can survive drops (Panos Panay actually dropped one on the [carpeted] stage from shoulder height); it has 15-20% better battery life than the Surface Pro 2; and the dock lets you output to 4K displays.
The Surface Pro 3 starts at $799 and goes on sale tomorrow, although you can preorder starting now. We’ll have more hands-on coverage and a full review soon, so stay tuned.