Yesterday Microsoft launched the Surface Pro 3 and it is already a market leading product that blows away all competitors. That is because it is very nearly the only product in its market and there aren’t many competitors. I have seen one or two similar products, but the Surface 3 is better than any of them. It is a product that bridges two market categories and it isn’t a tablet and it isn’t a laptop, it is a sort of hybrid or the two.
I like the Surface Pro series of lablets, tabtops or whatever they are called. They are unique and different to everything else that is out there, and it is great to see new products, new ideas and new ways of working. No doubt the Apple fans will compare it to the iPad, but with its increased screen size of 12in, this isn’t a tablet that you can sit in bed with reading ebooks. The 7in Android tablet market and iPad mini has that covered. It isn’t even an iPad Air competitor, although it can do some of the things that device can do, such as run productivity apps, play games, music and videos.
The Surface Pro 3 is best thought of as an ultra light laptop computer with a detachable touch screen. If you read the specs of the new device it reads just like a laptop: 4th generation Core i3, i5 or i7 processor, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, 64GB to 512GB SSD storage, 12in screen with 2160 x 1440 pixels, W-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 3 port, microSD card reader, Mini DisplayPort, and so on.
That is not an iPad competitor and I wouldn’t even call it a MacBook Air competitor, although it has to be said that there are more similarities with the MacBook Air than the iPad. Like Apple’s ultra light laptop computer, the Surface Pro 3 runs a desktop operating system, although once again it is a sort of crossover product, a hybrid of desktop and tablet OS. It makes perfect sense in the Surface though (but less sense on a desktop PC).
The Surface Pro 3 is an evolutionary product rather than a revolutionary one and everything about this version is just that little bit better than the previous one. It is a few millimetres thicker and over 100 grams heavier, but compared to a laptop, it is super light. The Surface 3’s screen is bigger at 12in and is a higher resolution at 2160 x 1440 pixels compared to the Surface 2’s 10.6in screen with 1920 x 1080.
It has more storage and more RAM, which is welcome and this will boost performance and lessen the need for an external drive to store all your music, photos and videos. The kickstand has been improved and has a greater range of positions, and the keyboard/cover has been redesigned and is better than the previous one. It comes with a pen that can be used to draw and write on the screen and it looks pretty good.
A bottom of the range Surface Pro 3 with Core i3 CPU with 64GB of storage costs $799 in the US store or £639 in the UK store. There are five models in the range and the top one with a Core i7 CPU and 512GB of storage costs $1,949 (US) or £1,649 (UK).
The Surface Pro 3 is excellent, but it is really just an ultra light laptop. I can’t see it selling in huge numbers like the iPad and I can’t see it changing the world like iOS and Android tablets have. It is just another option for companies when buying a Windows laptop for their workers on the road.
Its main competitor is the cheap Windows laptop. I bought an HP laptop with a very similar spec to the top end Surface 3 Pro recently for half the price. It may be bigger and heavier, but it has the same processor, same RAM, same storage, a touch screen and so on. It’s not as portable, but I saved a bucket-load of money.
Would you buy one?