Microsoft announces new Surface Pro 3 – the tablet that promises to replace your laptop

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The Surface Pro line has always been seen as a tablet for those “who actually wants to get stuff done on the go” – largely thanks to its laptop-tier hardware. And today Microsoft wants to blur the lines between the tablet and laptop even further with its brand new Surface Pro 3 tablet.

Announced at its “small gathering” press conference in New York City, the Surface Pro 3 features a 12-inch HD display and runs on an Intel fourth-generation Core processor. It is also lighter and thinner – measuring at 9.1mm thick and weighing only 800 grams. The weight could easily help make it a more popular alternative to laptops, as the new Surface Pro is lighter than a MacBook Air. The chassis has also been redesigned so you no longer notice the ridge where the fan is located.

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Like all Surface tablets, the Surface Pro 3 features the kickstand – but now you can sit the screen at any angle up to 150 degrees (as seen above). The Surface Pro 3 also includes a full-size USB 3.0 port, microSD card reader and a Mini DisplayPort.

Another change Microsoft has made was on the Type Covers, The company has said that they have “put a ton of energy into the trackpad” – according to Microsoft’s Panos Panay – after not receiving any praise for it. To quote Norman Ma, who wrote our Surface Pro 2 review:

The step back is the trackpad – it’s marginally smaller than the trackpad on the original Type Cover, and is now made of the same vinyl-like material as the rest of the Type Cover 2’s casing, which makes the trackpad hard to differentiate from the palm rest by feel alone. The trackpad on the Type Cover 2 is adequate for single-finger pointing, but its limited area means multi-finger gestures such as scrolling or pinch-to-zoom are cumbersome to perform. It’s also quite susceptible to accidental taps, which gets in the way during extended typing.

Microsoft says they have made the trackpad by 68 percent and increased the friction. By the looks of the images, however, the mouse buttons are still touch-sensitive pads. The cover also adapts to balance the Surface Pro 3 on your lap – all to improve “lapability” (yes, that’s the word they used to describe it).

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On the accessories front – Microsoft will introduce a new Docking Station for the Surface Pro 3 (US$199.99), an Ethernet Adapter (US$39.99) and a new Surface Pen (US$49.99). Designed to look and feel like a mountain pen, it should produce a more natural writing experience. It also comes with special shortcuts, with a traditional clicker situated at the base of the pen. Clicking on the pen will open up OneNote instantly, whereas double-clicking the pen will instantly capture a screenshot. Maybe not a good feature for those anxious pen-clickers out there, but a very cool feature for everyone else.

Pricing plans are as follows:

  • Core i3, 64GB and 4GB of RAM – US$799 or AU$979
  • Core i5, 128GB and 4GB of RAM – US$999 or AU$1209
  • Core i5, 256GB and 8GB of RAM – US$1299 or AU$1549
  • Core i7, 256GB and 8GB of RAM – US$1549 or AU$1829
  • Core i7, 512GB and 8GB of RAM – US$1949 or AU$2279

The Surface Pro 3 will go on sale tomorrow in the United States, exclusively through Microsoft Stores and Best Buy. Other retailers in the United States and Canada will sell the device from June 20. Australians, as always, will have to wait a bit longer, but Microsoft promises that it should be in the country by the end of August.

Updated 10:30AM with Australian pricing.