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Microsoft unveils the Surface Pro 3 tablet to compete with laptops

surfacepro3When Microsoft announced an event for their Surface line of tablets for the 20th of May, most people were expecting a Surface Mini. This Tuesday, however, Microsoft debuted the exact opposite: a tablet big and powerful enough to take the place of you laptop.

“Surface Pro 3 is the tablet that can replace your laptop. Packing all the performance of a fully powered laptop into a thin, light and beautifully designed device. You’ll love being able to carry a single device for your next class, workday or weekend getaway knowing you have all the power you need,” said Panos Panay, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Surface.

The new 12-inch Surface Pro 3 is nearly 1.5 inches larger than the Surface Pro 2. It’s 9.1 mm (0.36 inches) thick and weighs 1.76 pounds, which is lighter than the 11-inch MacBook Air. The screen is a dense 2160 x 1440 pixel glossy display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. The Surface Pro 3 comes in three different core configurations with either an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor. Further options include storage from 64 GB to 512 GB, and RAM options of 4 GB or 8 GB. The tablet features a single USB 3.0 port, a MicroSD card reader for expandable storage, a MiniDisplay port and headphone jack for external video and audio, and two 5-megapixel cameras (front and rear-facing). Microsoft promises 9 hours of “Web-browsing battery life.”

At the event, Microsoft emphasized the power comparison to a laptop or desktop computer rather than an ordinary tablet. It comes with the full version of Windows 8.1 installed, so there are no compromises in the OS department. Microsoft designed the device for professionals that use powerful desktop applications. Adobe demonstrated a new touch-optimized version of Photoshop CC for Windows. Many other Windows 8.1 apps will be optimized for the Surface Pro 3.

Other major upgrades to the Surface Pro 3 from previous Surface devices are the updates to the Surface Pen and built-in kickstand.

The Surface Pro 3 comes with a pressure-sensitive stylus, redesigned to more closely resemble the look and feel of a normal pen. This new Surface Pen uses N-trig pen technology rather than the Wacom digitizer of pervious models, providing a better writing experience. The pen features heavy integration with Microsoft OneNote. Clicking the purple button on top of the pen can launch OneNote to quickly jot down notes, even when the Surface is turned off. Notes written with the pen can also instantly sync with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service.

Previous Surface models included a built-in kickstand, but the one on the Surface Pro 3 features additional positions, including a 150-degree “canvas mode” to assist in handwriting.

Microsoft also introduced the new Surface Pro 3 Type Cover, which is sold separately at $129.99. This new keyboard features a larger trackpad that is now clickable. The Type Cover attaches to the bottom of the tablet, but can be raised higher to magnetically connect to the tablet’s lower bezel, creating an angled wedge shape for more ergonomic lap typing. The Surface Pro 3 Type Cover comes in 5 colors: red, purple, blue, cyan and black. The Surface Pro 3 is also compatible with the Type Cover 2 of the previous model.

Microsoft is now accepting pre-orders for the Surface Pro 3. The Intel Core i3 model starts a $799 and Core i5 at $999. Both will ship starting on June 20. The Core i7 model starts at $1,549 and will ship sometime in August. Microsoft is also selling additional accessories, including a docking station and Ethernet adapter.

By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra

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