Edward Swift - Hands On: Surface Pro 3

Publish Date
Friday, 5 September 2014, 12:00AM
Surface Pro 3 (supplied)

Surface Pro 3 (supplied)

By Edward Swift

Microsoft's first entry back into the hardware market came a few years ago with the Surface RT and the Surface Pro. Nearly two years later and they've taken on board the feedback they've received from these models and their successors to come out with the Surface Pro 3. Boy, is it a mighty machine!

The 12-inch device has moved closer to being a PC than a tablet, with its 4th generation Intel Core processor ranging from the i3 to the powerful i5. Not only that, there's now RAM and storage options, with up to 8GB of RAM and half a terabyte of disk space.

One of the downsides of this device's predecessors was the kick stand. The Surface RT and Pro only had one position to prop it up. The Surface 2 had two positions. But with this device, the 'full friction' kick stand allows you to position the tablet at any position meaning you can use it on your lap, on the table, while at the kitchen, and not have to be rearranging the screen to see it.

The front and rear cameras have been updated to 5.0 megapixels which is great for Skyping family and friends. But as I've always believed, tablets aren't used for taking amazing photos so the fact it's only 5.0 compared to modern day smartphones being upwards of 15 megapixels isn't the end of the world.

Sadly they still haven't bundled in the attachable keyboard into this PC-tablet - you still have to buy it separately. Perhaps something for Microsoft to look at when they work on the next device. The keyboard also has been tweaked. While it attaches to the base of the device, you can now allow more of the keyboard's surface area to attach to the bottom of the screen, creating a slightly tilted keyboard.

The surface Pro 3 also comes with a two-button pen, allowing you to write on documents, draw in paint, and erase those same scribbbles with the woosh of the pen.

The size of the device has also been worked on. It's thinner and lighter than the Surface Pro 2, knocking off about 4.5mm from the thickness to 9.1mm, and weighing in a just 800 grams. Obviously the screen size is bigger than the Surface Pro 2. That was 1920x1080 display, whereas this device's resolution is 2160x1440.

Battery life is also an improvement. The official specs boast up to 9 hours of battery life browsing the web, and it certainly lives up to that. Taking it away with me to Sydney, I only needed to charge it once over the course of the three days I was away.

Overall, Microsoft have stepped it up and come out with a stellar device here. This could in fact be a home laptop replacement. A good product overall. However I think the thing that might be offputting for some is the price, which ranges from $1,199 right up to $2,829 for the top end i7 device. If you have the cash, go for it. If you're working on a budget, then maybe it's not time to replace the family laptop just yet.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Size - 292.1mm x 201.4mm x 9.1mm
Weight - 800 grams
Screen -  12” ClearType Full HD Plus
Resolution - 2160 x 1440
Battery Life - Up to 9 hours of web browsing
Storage/RAM - 64GB or 128GB storage with 4GB RAM, 256GB or 512GB storage with 8GB RAM
Processor - 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor family (i3, i5, i7), TPM Chip for enterprise security
Network - Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac/802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth® 4.0 Low Energy technology
Ports - Full-size USB 3.0, microSD™ card reader, Headset jack, Mini DisplayPort, Cover port
Software - Windows 8.1 Pro
Cameras - 5.0 megapixel rear-facing camera, 5.0 megapixel front-facing camera