Microsoft’s Surface plans are no more a mystery. After a couple of attempts at becoming the de facto Windows tablet, the latest Surface tablet finally looks promising. While everyone was expecting a smaller, Surface mini tablet, Microsoft took everyone by surprise by launching the Pro 3 with a whopping 12-inch display. The spectacular design, uber-portability, and its capability to transform into a fully functional laptop, places it as a direct competitor to the Macbook Air. So, we’ve decided to put both devices in the ring, for a specs show down.
Microsoft has taken criticism quite seriously, and bounced back with a sleek and trendy hybrid. The Surface Pro 3 is extremely light at 798 grams. Now, this may be a large figure for tablets, but one shouldn’t forget that the Pro 3 is a completely ‘portable desktop’ with Intel chipsets inside. Moreover, at that weight it is quite lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air, which weighs 1.3Kg.
The device also offers more viewing real estate compared to the Air. The Pro 3 also brings in ease of use with the two-position kickstand that has been improved to bend event at an angle of 150 degrees. It also adds a detachable keyboard, transforming the tablet into a laptop. On the other hand, the Macbook Air offers a solid typing experience, some say the best, with its built-in keyboard.
The Surface Pro 3 also comes with a smart pen which gives you more options than just mouse and keyboard.
The biggest change in the Surface Pro 3 is the massive jump in the screen size from 10.6-inch to 12-inch. The Pro 3 sports a 12-inch display with 2160 x 1440 resolution, with a pixel density that goes all the way up to 216ppi. It beats the Macbook Air yet again, which sports a 13.3-inch 1440 x 900 display. Microsoft has also opted for 3:2 aspect ratio over 16:9 found in Macbook Air. In terms of the display, the Pro 3 is definitely a huge step up from its predecessor – Pro 2.
Microsoft has managed to fit Intel Core processors in a sleek and light body, which definitely puts it at par with the latest Ultrabooks available in the market. While i5 models will start shipping soon, i7 models will be available from August. The 13-inch Macbook Air also comes powered by Intel i5 processors. The Surface Pro 3′s 1.6-GHz Core i5 processor is likely to be slightly faster than the MacBook Air’s 1.4-GHz Core i5 CPU.
Specs and features
The Pro 3 comes armed with Intel HD Graphics 4400, but Macbook is a tad better with HD Graphics 5000. Both systems pack in 4GB of RAM and 128GB of on board storage. The Surface Pro 3 also gets a rear camera, which can be handy while using the device in tablet mode, provided you would like going around clicking photos with a 12-inch device.
The Pro 3 comes fitted with Dolby Audio for sound, along with a full-size USB 3.0 port, microSD card reader and Mini DisplayPort for quick file transfers and easy connections to a range of peripherals. It also promises up to nine hours of Web-browsing battery life and runs on Windows 8.1.
The Macbook Air runs OS X 10.9 Mavericks and promises up to 12 hours of browsing the web. It includes a 720p FaceTime HD camera, which is a sensible addition. Some other features include USB 3.0, card slots, and Thunderbolt (Mini DisplayPort).
Besides the kickstand, the stylus appears to yet another standout feature for the Pro 3. The tablet is now capable of instantly converting pen-written text to digital content. Users will find a click a button on the back of a pen to immediately open a new note on the Surface Pro 3. Once you write, the note is saved to OneNote and syncs it to all of your other devices, with just another click. Microsoft has announced some optional accessories, including a new Docking Station for Surface Pro 3 and a Surface Ethernet Adapter. Both devices support Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi.
Offering several configuration options featuring 4th gen Intel processors, the Surface Pro 3 will be available for a price starting at $799, and up to $1,949. The pre-orders will begin on May 21 12AM EDT via Microsoftstore.com, Microsoft retail stores and select third-party retailers.
Customers in Canada and the US can order Surface Pro 3 models powered by Intel Core i5 and select accessories from June 20. Other models will be available August while other accessories in the next couple of months. By August-end, Surface Pro 3 and select new accessories will come to 26 additional markets, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
After a recent $100 price drop, the Macbook Air is available starting at $999 and goes up to $1749, depending on the configuration.
The bottom line
Microsoft has tried to make a grand comeback with the Pro 3. It is not only thinner and lighter, but brings in ease of use and is loaded with features. It definitely stands against the Macbook Air, adding to the worries for Apple. On paper, the Pro 3 looks great, but it’s the performance and wider availability which will help decide its success and sales.
Here’s all you need to know about the Surface Pro 3.