So there was no Surface Mini announcement this week like many were expecting. But Microsoft did introduce a thinner, faster, more advanced follow-up to the Surface Pro 2—and it’s impressive. The company’s Surface devices have always had a vague sense of purpose, and as a result have failed to break into must-own territory. The Surface Pro 3, a direct competitor with Apple’s MacBook Air line, is looking to change that.
Instead of being a tablet-plus, or some half-baked attempt to replace your devices, the Surface Pro 3 is a laser-focused PC with a purpose. On stage during the device’s announcement, Microsoft was impassioned, deeply proud of what it created. Here is a full-on computer stuffed into a body that’s more impressive than anything we’ve ever seen. This doesn’t feel like any Surface Pro that’s come before it; it feels more focused, better designed—a device that you could legitimately use to replace both your tablet and computer.
One of the most under-appreciated aspects of the Surface has always been its design, and it’s even better here. When you hold it—as Microsoft repeatedly impressed upon a crowded room—it feels incredible; a sight to behold in the mobile market. With a 3:2 aspect ratio and larger screen, it feels more natural as a tablet, but still has the powerful guts of a laptop. And it’s so light and thin that you could even hold it with one hand, though that’s not necessarily the primary focus here.
Microsoft has always been about productivity, and that’s what the Surface Pro 3 is designed for. Microsoft knows that most people who own a tablet also own a laptop—many of them being Apple products. But the Redmond company is attempting to champion a segment beyond that, and the Surface Pro 3 is the best device to do that. With a new and improved Type cover, it’s easy to get work done in the traditional laptop form factor. When you want to just relax and unwind? Snap the cover off and just lug the device around like a tablet.
The screen on the Surface Pro 3 looks terrific, and the new hinge on the back—something that was more annoying than helpful—is now useful. Microsoft has managed some impressive engineering here, allowing users to angle the device until it’s almost flat. And the stand has just the right amount of resistance, too, and it doesn’t feel like it’ll break or come loose after extended use.
There’s quite a bit to like here on first impression. If you’re looking for a computer from the future, this is most definitely it. Of course, there are a lot of Windows 8 laptops out there that are much cheaper than the Surface Pro 3 and, of course, it still has the excellent MacBook Air to contend with, which seems to be the popular choice among laptop owners (Microsoft acknowledged this at its own event). We’ll be putting the Surface Pro 3 through its paces over the next few weeks. For now, check out our unboxing and quick impressions.