Gadgets

Hands-on with Surface Pro 3: Microsoft’s hybrid tablet isn’t so crazy anymore

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Microsoft’s quest to create “one device to rule them all” may have finally succeeded.

With the Surface Pro 3, unveiled today at a media event in New York City, Microsoft has created a tablet with a screen large enough to serve as your main laptop. But it’s also light enough to serve as a tablet when you need to sit back and relax.

Think back to when Microsoft first announced the Surface tablet. It seemed exciting because it was a bold play for a future where our laptops and tablets converge. Fast-forward two years though, and Microsoft’s execution with the Surface family hasn’t quite lived up to its earlier promise. The first Surface RT was slow, and the slow roll-out of Windows 8 apps made the Surface Pro unappealing for many consumers.

All it takes is holding the Surface Pro 3 to realize how far Microsoft has come. It’s lighter and thinner than the Surface Pro 2, even though that tablet has a smaller 10.6-inch screen. Despite its 12-inch display, it’s easy to hold with one hand (though it’s certainly not as portable as a smaller tablet like the iPad Mini).

Indeed, the Surface Pro 3 is so thin that it’s hard to believe it’s a full-fledged Windows 8 tablet. Unlike the Surface 2, which runs the stripped-down RT version of Windows 8, the Surface Pro 3 can run all of the Windows apps you know and love.

The tablet’s new kickstand also offers far more flexibility than past Surface models. Now, it can open up all the way to 150 degrees as well as every step in between. The kickstand makes it easier to hold the Surface on your lap, and when it’s flipped out completely, it turns the Surface into handy artist’s canvas.

I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed using the Surface Pro 3’s stylus. Clicking the button at the top of the stylus instantly opens up a new OneNote file, even when the Surface is asleep. That makes it far more useful for quick note-taking. Another click of the pen sends the note to your OneDrive. It’s by far the most intuitive stylus integration I’ve seen in any device, PC or otherwise.

Thanks to its larger screen, using the Surface Pro 3 to browse the web and use Windows 8 apps felt far more comfortable than past Surface models. I always felt cramped by the 10.6-inch screens in the previous Surface. The Surface Pro 3, on the other hand, doesn’t feel any different than my 13-inch MacBook Air.

Now that Microsoft has reached its third Surface generation, I think it may have finally figured out the ideal balance between laptop productivity and tablet portability.

Check back next week for a full review of the Surface Pro 3.

More about the companies and people from this article:

Microsoft Corporation is a public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through ... read more »

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30 comments
Sorten Borten
Sorten Borten

The Surface Pro 4 with an Intel Broadwell CPU is going to be awesome.

CVSTech
CVSTech

@jharding I've got the Surface Pro 2. It does everything. 4 stars.

Sylvain Terret
Sylvain Terret

Remember that "I WANT TO BELIEVE" poster in Fox Mulder's office ? Yeah, replace the UFO with a Microsoft tablet and you're done.

rpthis2
rpthis2

@stevesi @VentureBeat I have a surface pro 2 and its picking up dust. it lacks apps and I can't hold it on my lap etc.. etc..

Martin Wardener
Martin Wardener

what's with the "I" form with you all the time in these feed posts..? is venturebeat one guy? either present yourself or write on behalf of the magazine proper.

Nielo Olein
Nielo Olein

I'm guessing he haven't heard of convertibles

Barry Horwitz
Barry Horwitz

This is a very weak article - enticing headline, but only talk about it being thinner and with a better keyboard… nothing that tells me that MS has made some great leap forward.

areacode212
areacode212

@Devindra I really hope the Surface will still be around the next time I'm in the market for a laptop. Hope the MS kiosk at TWC has these.

Stephen Ross
Stephen Ross

It's a tablet mate... A laptop has a separate keyboard. .. Remove that and it becomes a tablet... Play semantics all you want but that's what the market will see. A tablet at almost a grand.. I certainly wouldn't swap my laptop for it...

MrFester *
MrFester *

 It will be another over priced Niche piece of hardware for the 1% of the tablet market they have

Stephen Ross
Stephen Ross

Sorry folks but has anyone actually checked out the price... The cheapest being $800?! By the time it comes to the UK be luck if the starting price will be under £1000... No matter how you pretty it up and put Windows on it it is still a sodding Tablet...

Nielo Olein
Nielo Olein

Only if they stop being lead by consumers and take charge

Sorten Borten
Sorten Borten

@nvelthouse Weak ecosystem?  There are literally millions of applications that you can run on the SP3.  More than all of the applications in the Apple and Google stores combined.

Peter Smith
Peter Smith

It most certainly is a tablet. It also is a full featured laptop replacement. One doesn't exclude the other.