Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 Tablet hit stores in the U.S. and Canada August 1, and already tech experts are hailing it as a significant improvement over the Surface Pro 2. While Microsoft is positioning the Surface Pro 3 as "the tablet that can replace your laptop," it could also become a viable desktop PC replacement when used in conjunction with its docking station.
One of the biggest advantages for business users, as well as students, is the ability to run Windows programs, especially Microsoft Office apps including Word for word processing, Excel for spreadsheets, and Powerpoint for presentations.
What many experts also like about the Surface Pro 3 is the variety of configurations available. Rather than a one-size-fits-all model found in most tablet offerings, the Surface Pro 3 is available in 5 different models with different amounts of memory, a variety of processors, and prices to match.
The Core i3 model, for instance, is designed for users who need the device primarily for simple tasks -- note taking, Web browsing, Skype calls, and undemanding apps. On the other hand, the Core i7 is aimed at users who require a lot of power from their computing devices for tasks such as music and video editing. The Core i5 model, which Microsoft predicts will be its most popular Surface Pro 3 version, meets users somewhere in the middle, especially for those who are looking for a tablet capable of replacing their laptop.
On the Desk and Under the Hood
The lightweight Surface Pro 3 weighs in at 1.76 pounds and features a 12-inch multi-touch display with 2160 x 1440 resolution, a kickstand, and optional click-in keyboard (both shown above). By comparison, Apple's iPad Air weighs about 1 pound, with a 9.7 inch screen.
One unique feature of the Surface Pro 3 is the Surface Pen, which allows the user to write naturally on the screen. Microsoft says the pen gives the most natural writing and drawing experience available on a tablet. It can be used to mark up presentations, sign documents, and take handwritten notes, as well as for drawing and design applications.
The Surface Pro 3 comes equipped with the Windows 8.1 Pro operating system, a 5.0 megapixel rear-facing and front-facing camera, and multiple ports, including a full-size USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, and a microSD card reader. Microsoft's product page estimates a battery charge can provide up to 9 hours of web browsing, with certain caveats, such as keeping auto-brightness turned off. (continued...)