The influx of multiple new devices connecting to most businesses' networks is an ongoing problem for IT departments. As well as making it more difficult for IT managers to secure their networks, the wave of new devices also means many workers now expect to have both a work laptop and tablet - an expectation that drives up company expenses and increases IT managers' workload.
Because of this, businesses of all sizes have viewed Microsoft's Surface Pro line of devices, which are designed to function equally well as both tablets and laptops, with cautious curiosity. But so far this curiosity hasn't translated into mass enterprise adoption, and in general Microsoft's 2013 Surface Pro 2 was a rare sight in the corporate world.
Aware of this, Microsoft chose to radically rethink its strategy with its latest Surface 3 making a number of subtle changes to its design and enterprise offering. While bold, this move has led many potential buyers to wonder what key features differentiate the Surface Pro 3 from its predecessor the Surface Pro 2.
Design and build
The Surface Pro 2's hefty 907g weight, chunky 274x173x13.5mm metal chassis and slightly awkward kickstand were three key areas many reviewers, including us here at V3, complained about. As well as making the Surface Pro 2 fairly cumbersome to use as a tablet, the kickstand, which only supported two standing angles, made typing on the device when balancing it on your lap fairly tricky.
Luckily these issues have been fixed on the Surface Pro 3. Despite featuring a larger 12in display, it is both thinner and lighter than its predecessor - measuring in at 292x201x9.1mm and weighing 800g - and it features a reworked kickstand.
We have to applaud the work Microsoft has done to reduce the Surface Pro 3's size and weight. The Surface Pro 3's lighter weight and thinner measurements make it significantly more comfortable to use as a tablet than the Surface Pro 2. The Surface Pro 3's tablet focus is further aided by its button placement.
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. This makes it far more pleasant to hold the Surface Pro 2, which is designed for landscape use and places the Windows button on the bottom long side of the tablet's front face.
While all this is great, the new kickstand is the standout feature. Microsoft has made it so the Surface Pro 3's kickstand can be set to custom angles, which makes the Surface Pro 3 far more pleasant to use than the Surface Pro 2 in a variety of situations.
For example, using the Surface Pro 3 as a laptop at a press event, the new kickstand meant, when connected to a Type Cover, we could set the device to the exact angle we wanted, removing our need to stoop or adjust our posture, as we had to using the Surface Pro 2.
In terms of build quality both Surface Pros are seriously rugged devices. While neither carry an IP certification - meaning you wouldn't want to get them wet - we found both the Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 can survive more than the average wear and tear and left us reasonably assured they could survive the odd accidental bump and scrape.
Winner: The Surface Pro 3
Next: Display and operating system