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Tuesday May 20, 2014 12:30 pm

Microsoft Surface Pro 3: 12” display, $799, hopes to replace your laptop

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Microsoft has officially the new Surface Pro 3 during a press event in New York City this morning, just under 7 months after releasing the Surface Pro 2. While the Surface Pro 3 may look similar at first glance, what with the kickstand and all, Surface chief Panos Panay went out of his way to make the point that this device is all about solving the problem of deciding between a laptop and a tablet. The Surface Pro 3, after all, can replace your laptop, claimed Panay.

So what makes the new model so impressive? Let's take a look at a rundown of features. First, Microsoft has increased the display size to 12-inches at a 3:2 aspect ratio and 2,160 x 1,440 resolution. That is the largest Surface display yet, with the highest density to boot. Despite being larger, it's also lighter than the Surface Pro 2 as well, weighing in at 800 grams. Panay made the point by comparing the weight of the Surface Pro 3 against the 11-inch MacBook Air, which has a smaller display without as high a screen resolution.

Talking about the new Surface Pro 3 kickstand for a moment, Microsoft is really proud of this one. The term "lapability" was used a few times during the event, which basically addresses how easy it is to use a device on your lap, and something that the original Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 lacked. The new kickstand has more friction, which allows you to pretty much set it wherever you'd like it to be, up to a 150 degree angle. Paired up with the new Type Cover, which uses magnets to seal itself to the bottom portion of the display border (rather than just clicking in to the keyboard port), you have something that is much more akin to what you'd expect with a typical notebook. You also get a larger trackpad with a lot less friction as well, which should make mouse input that much better.

Pen input is still a focus with the Surface Pro 3 as well, but in this case, it's been much, much improved. In fact, from the looks of it, using the included pen with the Surface Pro 3 is as close to pen & paper as you can currently get on a digital device, thanks to the removal of the parallax effect where there is separation between the glass and the display. Click the button on the pen, and the Surface Pro 3 springs to life, bringing you right to a OneNote sheet that allows you to quickly start writing or sketching, and then syncing to the OneDrive cloud.

You can pre-order the Surface Pro 3 now. The Intel Core i3 version starts at $799. If you need something more powerful, the Core i5 starts at $999, and the Core i7 model starts at $1,549. The i5 Surface Pro 3 will ship on June 20th in the US and Canada, with other models launching by the end of August.

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