Surface Pro 3: Third Time's the Charm for Microsoft?

Surface Pro 3: Third Time's the Charm for Microsoft?

The Surface Pro 3 will be coming to Singapore soon. The new Surface Pro 3 model features a larger 12-inch display and a completely revamped thinner design that is only 9.1 millimeters thick. It also has a new kickstand that holds the device up at any angle.

Microsoft says its new Surface Pro 3 features an “absolutely beautiful” screen that has been increased to 12-inches so that the device is a better laptop replacement. It also has the highest contrast ratios in the industry. The screen allows it to compete in unchartered categories – the ultrabook. The Surface Pro 3 is even lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Air, and it is powered by the latest-generation Intel Core i7 processor. Overkill? Maybe, but it sure sends a strong message to Microsoft’s competitors.

Microsoft aims to disrupt the laptop / ultrabook / chromebook category with a large screen surface pro 3 that can pretty much do the same thing as laptops; yet, it would be faster, lighter, and at times cheaper.

The new tablet cum laptop, now thinner, more powerful and with a bigger screen, will hit these shores from end-August. Pre-orders are open now, and the entry-level 64GB version costs an S$1,108. You won’t get 64GB for use though, as a large chunk goes to the operating system and you would expect to have only around 30-40gb of usable space.

Significant improvements all around as compared to the Surface Pro 2, addressing the low resolution screen and hopefully dismal battery life, but we will wait for reviews to confirm that. Best of all, it weighs only 790-gram. The resolution on the touch-screen has been upped to a useful 2,160 x 1,440 pixels, which trumps the previous Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). However, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have not really made progress on adapting to high density resolution screens. Similar high-res ultrabooks tend to suffer from poor display composition. Its 3:2 aspect ratio is closer to a letter-sized paper notepad than the narrower and thinner 16:9 tablets, contributing to that balanced feel.

However, the above 790 gram or 1.74 pounds is just the tablet itself. When you add the Type Cover and Surface Pen, the Surface Pro 3 tips the scales at 2.44 pounds, about three quarters of a pound more than the iPad Air, and half a pound less than the 13-inch MacBook Air. Not bad, but that’s pushing the limits of an everyday mobile companion that you carry everywhere.

Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 3 also ships with redesigned Type Cover keyboard that has a larger trackpad and new keyboard keys. The cover also has a magnetic strip that connects to the front of the tablet to change the angle of the keys.

Also improved is the pen input on the Pro 3. Microsoft’s new tablet can convert pen-written text to digital content almost instantly, allowing users to write notes that are converted into digital text quickly and painlessly. This sounds vaguely similar to the Samsung Note 3, and in fact, should work pretty well on the Surface Pro 3. The larger surface would benefit from the pen input, especially for those who frequently work with documents and need to either annotate or highlight articles.


While the device will keep using Intel’s efficient fourth-gen Core processors, the Surface Pro 3 now comes with not just a Core i5, but all flavours, such as the entry-level Core i3 and the top-end Core i7 as well.

A basic Surface Pro 3 with a Core i3 chip and 64GB of storage will cost S$1,108. At the extreme top end, a version with a Core i7 chip and 512GB of capacity will set you back by S$2,698. The Core i5 version with 128GB might be the sweet spot for many, at S$1,348.

And yes, this Surface Pro 3 does run Windows 8.1 Pro and the Windows programs you currently own. You can even game on it too, but graphics performance would struggle.

In the Surface Pro 3, it looks like Microsoft has created a pretty solid ultrabook competitor. On its site, Microsoft has pitted the Surface Pro 3 against Apple’s Macbook Air. You can bet Apple won’t be the only one looking over its shoulder. Microsoft’s traditional PC partners – the Lenovos, Acers and HPs – will be most unhappy that this software company has come up with better hardware that they have done of late. Perhaps the more innovative ones had been Sony, with the ultra-light notebook series, but now, that crown would belong to Microsoft with their pseudo tablet-laptop.