01.Bigger screen in a smaller body
Microsoft has Apple’s MacBook Air and iPad firmly in its sights with its new, larger, Surface Pro 3 tablet, unveiled today in New York. The third-generation Surface is now larger, thinner and lighter, but packs full computing power into its slim chassis with a range of Intel processors and storage options to rival many laptops. And, the full version of Windows 8.1.
The Surface 3 is pitched as the tablet that can replace your laptop and tablet with one device. Features include
- a 12 inch 2160 x 1440 resolution screen (up from 10.4 inches on the Surface 2)
- claimed 9 hours of battery life
- touch screen
- a new pressure-sensitive stylus for drawing and taking notes that can automatically be converted to editable text.
The extra 1.4 inches of screen space edges the Surface 3's screen closer towards laptop sized. At 9.1mm thick and just under 800 grams in weight (without the optional keyboard), Microsoft claims the Surface 3 is thinner and lighter than the 11-inch MacBook Air.
How much does it cost and what are we paying for?
Five different versions of the Surface 3 will be available, with entry level models retailing for around $979, almost $200 more than the US launch price of US$799. These include a 4th generation Intel i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, while the top tier version has an i7 processor, 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM.
Microsoft has addressed the kickstand bugbear as well by adding a “continuous” (adjustable) kickstand that can angle the tablet anywhere between zero and 150 degrees, which is quite laid back. Continuing with the kickstand, rather than a keyboard to balance the weight of the tablet like other hybrid computers, means the Surface 3 will likely take up the same amount of desk or lap space as the Surface 2.
The detachable keyboard has also returned with a larger track pad, as well as a 5MP front and rear cameras, a USB 3.0 port and room for expanded storage via micro SD.
By kicking up the specs, the basic Surface 3 will be able to run the software you’re used to using on a laptop, and higher-end models should be able to run power-hungry programs. Some companies are offering optimised versions of their software to fit within the 12-inch screen and capitalise on the stylus. Adobe has demoed a “touch-optimised” version of Photoshop as an example.
Although the Surface 3 will be available in America from 20th June, Australians will have to wait until the end of August to get their hands on the new hybrid.