New York — Microsoft today unveiled to the press its largest tablet yet, the Surface Pro 3, with the guts and functionality of a Windows 8 laptop.
The 1.7-pound tablet features a 12-inch FullHD display (2,160 by 1,440), fourth-generation Intel Core processor, an improved click-in keyboard cover and a newly designed Surface Pen. It runs Windows 8.1 Pro and offers automatic Cloud storage.
It has a magnesium casing that has a 30 percent thinner footprint than its predecessor, the Surface Pro 2, at 0.36 inches, and adds a newly designed friction-driven kickstand that can position the tablet in any position from flat to 150 degrees.
"So many people carry both a laptop and a tablet but really want just one device that serves all purposes,” said Panos Panay, Microsoft Surface corporate VP. "Today we take away the conflict between tablet and laptop."
To illustrate his point, Panos placed a 12-inch Macbook Air on a balance scale and then placed the Surface Pro 3 on the counter balance. "Remember three years ago when we all said the tablet will replace the laptop? Well, look around this room. Clearly that hasn't happened," he said to a room full of reporters balancing laptops on their knees. "Our research shows that 96 percent of tablet owners also own a laptop, so clearly the tablet is not fulfilling its promise." With that, he added an iPad Mini to the scale on top of the Macbook Air. "So now which would you rather carry in your bag?"
Panay stressed the appeal of the Windows 8.1 Pro OS, which runs popular desktop software such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite. "There are more than 1 billion Office users in the world, and most of them would like to access their Office documents on their tablet," he said.
He then introduced Michael Goff of Adobe, who demonstrated a preview of the company's upcoming Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud software, which is optimized for use with the Pro 3. Goff promised more Pro 3-optimized Creative Suite software introductions "in the very near future."
The newly designed Surface Pro Type cover is thinner than its predecessor and adds an improved trackpad that is 68 percent larger and almost 80 percent more sensitive to touch, the company said.
The new Surface Pen, with a polished aluminum casing, was completely redesigned with form and function in mind, Panay said. "It's not a stylus. It was designed to act, feel and function like a pen. It feels great in your hand. It has the lowest latency levels of any screen writing device on the market." It can be used to digitally markup presentations and images, sign documents or create art in apps such as Fresh Paint.
A click of the end of the Surface Pen powers up the device and opens the included OneNote app for quick note taking. A double-click of the Surface Pen instantly captures a screenshot of whatever’s on the screen. Palm Block technology allows the user to write naturally without unintended inputs and marks from hand pressure.
For media playback, the Pro 3 features Dolby Audio-enhanced sound and twin front-facing speakers that are 45 percent louder than the Pro 2's.
The device has two 5-megapixel cameras, front and back, capable of capturing 1080p HD video.
It has three physical buttons for volume, power and home.
Input/outputs include a single USB 3.0 port, a MicroSD card reader, Mini DisplayPort and a headphone jack.
The display has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which emulates the footprint of a standard paper tablet, Panay said.
Wireless functionality is via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart. Battery life is said to be about nine hours of web browsing.
Apps are driven by an ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer.
Five models of the Surface Pro will be available with three Intel Core processor options: i7, i5 and i3. They start at $799 for a tablet with 4GB of storage, Intel Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM and range up to $1,949 for the top model with 512GB of storage, Intel Core i7 chipset and 8GB of RAM.
Pre-ordering starts May 21 at 12:01 a.m. EDT through MicrosoftStore.com, Microsoft retail stores and select third-party retailers. The i5 version will be available June 20 in the U.S. and Canada. Additional configurations will become available in August.
Accessories were also introduced, including a newly designed desktop docking station and an Ethernet adapter. They will be available June 20. Additional accessories will be introduced in the next few months, Microsoft said.
The company will roll out the Pro 3 internationally by the end of August in 26 additional markets.