first announced the Surface, the tablet was unsuccessfully pitched as an iPad alternative. Now it's being marketed to consumers as a replacement for both their iPads and MacBooks.
Microsoft finally understands that consumers are not interested in a gadget that's similar to and more expensive than an iPad yet only offers a few more features. That's why the Redmond, Wash., company has designed the Surface Pro 3 to be a tablet that can also replace your laptop.
Starting at $799 and available June 20, the entry-level Surface Pro 3 is more expensive than a $499 iPad Air but not as pricey as the $899 entry-level 11-inch MacBook Air. It's also much cheaper than buying both the Apple gadgets. The Surface Pro 3 offers many of the same leisure apps available on tablets while also being capable of running the heavy-duty software used to get work done on computers. Microsoft hopes consumers will conclude that they can pay less for its device and get what they want from a laptop and tablet.
Microsoft began exploring this concept with the Surface Pro 2, which was released only eight months ago. The problem with the Surface Pro 2 is that it was released alongside the Windows RT Surface 2, a cheaper version of the tablet that is not capable of running laptop software. This time around, Microsoft has chosen not to release a Windows RT version of the third Surface, forcing customers to get the Pro version. That could help the tablet finally carve out its niche as the productivity tablet.
I got to test out the Surface Pro 3 and I found that Microsoft wasn't kidding: The tablet was able to do everything I normally use my MacBook for.
Just like on any laptop, I was able to download programs from the Web and install them on the device. And like on any tablet, I could also download apps like Netflix from Microsoft's digital store. The Surface Pro 3 runs Windows 8.1 Pro, which means consumers can switch back and forth between the operating system's touchscreen-optimized Start screen and the more traditional Desktop interface.
I mostly stuck to the desktop since I was testing the tablet's capabilities as a work computer. I downloaded Google Chrome and Spotify and used them to log into The Times' Web software to write my blogs and listen to music simultaneously, the way I use my laptop every day.
Writing on the Surface Pro 3 was easy, especially because of its 12-inch screen -- previously, the Surface had a 10.6-inch display. The additional real estate on the Surface Pro 3 makes its screen much bigger than what you'd find on most tablets. The iPad Air by comparison has a 9.7-inch screen. In fact, at 12 inches and with a 2,160-by-1,440-pixel resolution, the Surface Pro 3 has a bigger and higher quality screen than the entry-level MacBook Air. (continued...)
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Posted: 2014-06-25 @ 4:38am PT
The base model of Surface Pro 3 is 799.00 not 899.00