Microsoft made a big deal about its Surface Pro 3 when it unveiled it at its New York press event on Tuesday, claiming it will easily outperform all of its key rivals as both a tablet and a laptop. This has led many buyers to wonder how the new productivity focused Surface Pro 3 compares to the current ruler of the tablet market, the Apple iPad Air.
Surface Pro 3: 292x201x9.1mm, 800g
iPad Air: 240x170x7.5mm, 468g
Packing a sizable 12in display and robust magnesium chassis, the Surface Pro 3 is significantly heavier than the iPad Air. That said, it does have more connectivity options than the iPad Air, coming loaded with full-sized USB 3.0 ports, a microSD card slot and a mini Displayport. By comparison the iPad Air only has a Lightning port.
Surface Pro 3: 12in ClearType Full HD screen with 2160x1440 resolution
iPad Air: 9.7in 1536x2048, 263ppi in-plane switching (IPS) LCD Retina display
Microsoft made a big deal about the Surface Pro 3's 12in display claiming that as well as being 38 per cent larger than the previous Surface Pro screen it is also able to display twice as many pixels.
That said, it will still have a tough time dethroning the iPad Air, as its 9in Retina Display remains one of the sharpest and crispest seen on a large tablet.
Surface Pro 3: Windows 8.1
iPad Air: iOS 7
Microsoft designed the Surface Pro to function as a laptop as well as tablet and has loaded it with its full Windows 8.1 operating system. This means that on paper it could offer better productivity services and applications than the iPad Air, which runs the latest version of Apple's iOS mobile operating system.
Surface Pro 3: Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 options
iPad Air: A7
The Surface Pro is available with fourth generation Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 chip options. This means, despite Apple iOS being significantly less demanding to run than Windows 8.1, the Surface Pro 3 should offer superior performance to the iPad Air, which is powered by an A7 mobile processor.
Surface Pro 3: 5MP and 1080p HD front- and rear-facing
iPad Air: 5MP iSight rear and HD Facetime front
Both the Surface Pro 3 and iPad Air come loaded with 5MP rear cameras. This means we won't be able to call which is better until we've had some hands on time with the new Microsoft tablet.
Surface Pro 3: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB internal storage options
iPad Air: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB internal storage options
The Surface Pro 3 comes with a more robust set of internal storage options. It also competes with the iPad Air on price, with the cheapest 64GB model costing $799 (£475). Pricing of the equivalent 64GB iPad Air model starts at £479.
Surface Pro 3: Nine hours
iPad Air: 10 hours
On paper the iPad Air will last an hour longer than the Surface Pro 3, though we won't be able to tell if this is true until we've had a chance to battery burn the two tablets.
When viewed purely from a specification standpoint, the Surface Pro 3 is a seriously impressive device that does beat the Apple iPad Air. However, as we've seen with past Surface tablets, its focus on working as a laptop replacement could lead to some issues that make it less pleasant to use as a tablet than the iPad Air.
The Surface Pro 3 is set for release in the UK "by August." Check back with V3 closer to the time for a full review of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
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