Featuring a larger 12in display, a wealth of chipset options and a reasonable battery life the Surface Pro 3 does a great job of showcasing Windows 8.1's finer points. However, the extra £110 Microsoft is charging for the add-on Type Cover, combined with its hefty £640 starting price, make the Surface Pro 3 an expensive laptop replacement.
Clear display, good performance, wealth of productivity services, good battery life
Expensive by tablet standards, Type Cover costs an extra £110, stylus can lag
Processor: Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 options
Display: 12in ClearType Full HD 2160x1440 resolution screen
Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB internal storage, 4GB or 8GB RAM
Camera: 5MP front and rear-facing cameras
Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi
Operating system: Windows 8.1 Pro
Since Microsoft unveiled its first Surface Pro in 2012, it has been trying to push the line of devices to business users as the ultimate "all in one" machine. Specifically the firm claims that, when paired with a keyboard cover, the Surface Pro will be able to function equally well as both a tablet and laptop.
In the past we found there is some truth to this claim and both the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 could be used for work purposes. In fact, prior to receiving the Surface Pro 3, the original Surface Pro was one of our mobile work machines of choice.
However, a number of design annoyances, battery issues and their hefty upfront cost hampered the original Surface Pros from really taking off in either the tablet or laptop markets.
Aware of these issues and unwilling to give up its fight to dominate the bring your own device (BYOD) market, and the enterprise tablet and laptop markets, Microsoft went back to the drawing board with the Surface Pro 3 and worked hard to finally deliver on its "one device to rule them all" promise.
Design and build
Microsoft made a big deal about the Surface Pro 3's design when it unveiled the device in May. It pushed the fact that, despite its larger 12in display, the Surface Pro 3 is both lighter and thinner than previous Pros, measuring in at 292x201x9.1mm and weighing 800g.
While this still sounds heavy by dedicated tablet standards, having finally gotten our hands on the Surface Pro 3, we can now understand why Microsoft is so proud of its weight and thickness.
Users complained about the original Surface Pro's weight and slightly thicker design, and for good reason. While very sturdily built, the 907g Surface Pro 2 was a bit of a backbreaker to lug around. Using it as our primary machine at CES 2014, it began to feel like we had a small boulder in our satchel after a few hours, as we ran from company booth to company booth. The bigger weight also made using the Surface Pro 2 slightly cumbersome to use as a tablet.
By comparison the Surface Pro 3 feels feather light and is significantly more pleasant to use as a tablet. This was aided by the Surface Pro 3's reworked button layout. Unlike past Pros, Microsoft has designed the Surface Pro 3 for portrait use, placing the capacitive Windows/Home button on the bottom of the device's front face and physical power button on its right side.
Using the Surface Pro 3 as a laptop, with the newly designed Type Cover attached we also noticed a number of other subtle but important design changes. For starters Microsoft has completely redesigned the Surface Pro 3's kickstand. Unlike the Surface Pro 2, which has a kickstand that only features two standing options, the Surface Pro 3 can be manually adjusted to stand at custom angles.
The added set of stand options make the Surface Pro 3 more pleasant to use in a variety of circumstances. For example, using it as a laptop replacement, the extra angle options meant we could set the Surface Pro 3 to stand at exactly the angle we wanted, and removed the need for us to stoop and adjust our posture when resting it on our lap, as we had to with previous Surface devices.
Next: Design and build continued, display