Microsoft launched their Surface line of tablets two years ago to great fanfare and as a way of pushing the modern version of Windows 8. In that time they have updated their line once and had numerous supply problems. They have also acquired Nokia and had achieved some success but have not gained a large tablet market share.
Over the last six months there has been a persistent rumour that they would launch a 7 or 8 inch tablet to go with the currently 10 inch tablets. There has also been a recurrent rumour that the Surface Pro would be updated. They held an event today presented by the new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadalla where they talked about their reasoning for being in the hardware market. They are looking to create new categories and expand old ones rather than compete with the OEMs. They explained their thought about tablets as a consumption device, laptops as creation devices. They quoted the statistic that 96% of tablet owners also have a laptop or other PC. The Surface is designed to negate the need to have both.
The Surface Pro 3 is a tablet in the style of the older surfaces with a few changes. It has 3:2 ratio, 2160×1440 display measuring 12 Inches diagonally across. It has an adjustable rather than fixed stand (going up to 150 degrees), bigger speakers, USB3 and a couple of mm thinner. It is also slightly lighter at 800 grams. The internal spec is boosted everywhere most notably with a core i7 and up to 8Gb RAM and a 512GB hard disk . They also showed off a impressive looking docking station that supported a 4k monitor and a USB 3.0 hub. The type cover has had some small changes – critically the trackpad has been increased in size by 60% and added a magnetic lock to give far more stability when used on the lap.
They also showed off the level of processing the system could do with Adobe Photoshop and Creative Cloud being demonstrated running seemelessly.
The pen, one of the Pro’s selling points, has also been buffed with an ability to use it in portrait mode added and numerous small changes to improve the experience. Written OCR was demonstrated on stage – write a word and have it translated to computerised text. The size of the pen tip and parallax error has been reduced giving more accuracy. They have also added an impressive feature using OneNote where a touch on the screen with the pen automatically starts writing a note even without having to hit power on buttons or navigate to a specific app.
The Surface Pro 3 was shown in one of the adverts in the presentation as the most accessible tablet and the face that it runs a full version of Windows and has USB connections means that it is a full computer and probably is the most accessible tablet available. At the very least the fact that their first video advert for the surface features its accessibility and possible medical uses is notable.
The Surface Pro 3 will be available tomorrow in the US starting at $799 for the core i3 and going up in price to a core i5 and i7. We did not get any information on UK release dates or prices but based on past history it should be here within a couple of months, although for a somewhat inflated price.