Microsoft Surface Pro 3: 8 Winning Features - InformationWeek

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5/21/2014
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Microsoft Surface Pro 3: 8 Winning Features

Has Microsoft finally cracked laptop-tablet hybrids? Here are eight ways Surface Pro 3 raises the bar.

with i5 chips. Those who don't need the extra power, or the toll it will likely take on battery life, can still opt for a Surface Pro 3 with less-expensive i3 and i5 processors.

5. A lighter body.
Earlier Surface Pro models were light for laptops but clunky for tablets. The Pro 3, in contrast, is sleek and slender according to almost any definition. The tablet is only 0.3 inches thick and weighs less than two pounds.

Is the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 a legitimate laptop replacement?
Is the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 a legitimate laptop replacement?

6. New Touch Covers.
It's frankly annoying that Microsoft continues to sell Surfaces and keyboards separately. Nevertheless, the new, larger Touch Covers introduced for the Pro 3 offer solid improvements. First and foremost, they should be less cramped than earlier versions. Panay also promised an improved track pad experience, conceding that scrolling and tapping on previous models left much to be desired.

7. Optimized Surface apps.
Microsoft said its partners are producing a range of apps optimized for the Surface Pro 3's pen-and-touch UI. Adobe, for example, demonstrated a version of Photoshop with larger, more touch-friendly icons and extensive support for pen input. Microsoft promised that Surface-optimized professional medical and architectural apps are coming.

8. Better battery life.
Microsoft claims the Surface Pro 3 can run up to nine hours between charges. Demanding apps will probably drain the battery faster than web browsing, of course. Also, Pro 3s configured with faster chips will probably burn through juice more quickly -- so take Microsoft's claims of all-day battery life with an appropriate grain of salt. Nevertheless, even if the Surface Pro 3 can't quite match the MacBook Air for battery life, it's a massive improvement from the first-generation's four-hour limits, and a solid bump from even the improved Surface Pro 2.

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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Force Craate
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Force Craate,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/21/2014 | 11:04:05 AM
Microsoft Hardware
I bought a Zune. My friend had an XBox. Enough said? I don't care if they build a Starship with a battery of transporters they'll never get another nickel from me for any piece of hardware. 
KevinS235
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KevinS235,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/21/2014 | 11:04:29 AM
Andddd?
With the quality and value of ultrabooks this is all going to come down to price. This may be a nifty little tablet (or really big) but that doesn't mean a thing if it going to cost more than a performance ultrabook with the exact same features (for the most part)
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 11:05:55 AM
Pens
I find the pen apps very intriguing. As someone who takes a lot of handwritten notes, I've used those on and off in the past bunch of years and haven't found the perfect option. One thing I've found -- the storage volume for those can add up.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 11:19:39 AM
Re: Andddd?
@Kevin,

There's a lot of latitude in "for the most part."

It really depends which features you value. After all, why do people buy Macbooks when they can get similar specs for less money from a Windows machine? Is it the build quality, the appeal of OS X, Apple's effective marketing, integration with iOS, or something else? Whatever the reason(s), in the $1000+ segment, things don't work out like they do in the lower tiers; Apple might only claim around 10% of the U.S. market, but when you consider almost all of the devices they sell are $1000+, you can get a sense of how much differently things work at the very top. I can see why Microsoft decided to target the premium market, and to mothball the Surface Mini.

The Surface Pro 3 is meaningfully different from current Ultrabooks thanks to its pen integration, at the very least. Eventually, pen support will pervade all of Windows, and this sort of functionality might become more common among OEM devices. But for now, it's at least one feature that helps the Surface stand out, and that could help it to gain a place in the high end of the market. It might not matter to all users, but as someone who's spent a lot of time with both Photoshop and Final Draft (two of them pen-optimized apps demonstrated this week), I can definitely see a market for this sort of tool. As analyst Jack Gold said in our story yesterday, when you sell expensive, high-margin devices, you don't need to move tens of millions of units to be successful.

I think the Surface Pro 3 is a pricey, but if Microsoft had just included the stupid keyboard for the same cost, that wouldn't be so unreasonable.
RajaR362
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RajaR362,
User Rank: Strategist
5/21/2014 | 12:26:46 PM
Productivity
I don't see why this would not be the most productivity oriented table yet. Bravo Microsoft. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 5:10:07 PM
Re: Andddd?
Tend to agree with @Kevin, this is spendy -- especially given Microsoft's less than stellar track record with hardware. Seems like Redmond should be cutting people a break to reel them in. 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 7:39:52 PM
Surface Pro pen
Instant note taking through a pressure sensitive pen, what a nice feature, plus drawing capabilities based on 256 pressure sensitivities embedded in the pen. I like that notion. Might have to give one of these a try.
GAProgrammer
IW Pick
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2014 | 9:00:56 AM
Re: Microsoft Hardware
That's understandable. I guess you never buy Apple either, as their Newton was an abysmal failure?
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
5/22/2014 | 1:48:38 PM
Re: Andddd?
I think we can both agree, then, that the other 12 inch tablet on the market is monstrously overpriced. Samsung wants $850 for its 64 GB jumbo tablet, $50 more than Microsoft asks for the i3 64 GB Surface Pro 3. Granted, I don't get the feeling Galaxy Pros are flying off the shelf...
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
5/22/2014 | 1:51:09 PM
Re: Andddd?
I do agree, yes. I guess because at that price point you can get a nice ultrabook that weighs about the same as the tablet and does way more.
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