Yesterday Microsoft released what it anticipates will be a laptop killer – or at least viable replacement – the Surface Pro 3. Whilst the original Surface was widely panned, the Surface 2 raised the game with more power and greater portability. Learning from the mistakes of the previous two generations of Surface devices, has Microsoft finally cracked it?
The Surface Pro 3 certainly appears to have everything a user could want from a laptop replacement. A bigger screen (12”), thinner (9.1mm), lighter (1.8 pounds) and faster (a choice of different Intel Core processors running from the i3 up to the i7), all make for a tablet with the oomph and flexibility to give laptops a run for their money.
Microsoft has also changed the aspect ratio for the Surface 3 from 16:9 (perfect for watching films) to 3:2 (as found on most other tablets). With the change in ratio, also comes a new screen with a 2160 x 1440, providing a sharp screen with decent viewing angles. Among the other improvements include the hinge on the Surface. Previous versions, whilst good for putting on a desk, lacked the angles required for lappable comfort. With the Pro 3, Microsoft has made improvements to this, providing a highly flexible, yet strong hinge.
Of course what would a Microsoft tablet be without a stylus? With the Pro 3, Microsoft has released an improved stylus, that appears to respond in time to user input and provide a viable alternative to note taking with pen and paper. When it comes to storage, Microsoft doesn’t disappoint, with the Pro 3 starting at 64GB, rising to 512Gb.
All of this shapes up to provide a tablet that really could be a replacement for a laptop. Microsoft helped to highlight just how light the Surface Pro 3 was, by comparing it, on weights, with the MacBook Air.
Whilst we can see the Surface Pro 3 being useful as a replacement for a laptop, there are scenarios where we still question how it would be used. By moving up to a 12” screen, the Pro 3 doesn’t have the portability of a tablet. Use in one hand could prove tricky. There will be some people who will love this device for its handwriting capabilities and whilst there are keyboard cases, whether they match the capabilities of a full laptop, remains to be seen.
While the Surface Pro 3 may be a viable alternative to a laptop, we’re not so sure if it’s also a replacement for a tablet. Increasingly, the tablet is migrating away from the sofa. Tablets are used to compliment laptops or desktops, and used out and about in cars, trains and other modes of transport.
With the Pro 3 starting at £475 in the UK, could this be enough to tempt users away from an iPad? For the enterprise market, this could well be a viable alternative for companies looking to upgrade their IT systems and provide employees with greater flexibility. Whether it is a hit in the consumer market is another question.