Microsoft Debuts $799 Surface Pro 3 Tablet


3 things you need to know now:
  • Microsoft introduced the Surface Pro 3, a tablet that the company says can replace the laptop.
  • Surface Pro 3 has a 12-inch screen, is 9.1mm thick and weighs 1.76 pounds without a keyboard.
  • The new tablet will go on sale for $799 on Wednesday.

See how the announcement happened in real-time below...

Hands-on with the Surface Pro 3

12:30 p.m. ET / May 20, 2014

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We're just getting our hands on Microsoft's new tablet.

Weighing just 1.7 pounds and about a third of an inch thick, the Surface Pro 3 actually feels like a more comfortable tablet than the Surface Pro ever did. The screen is gorgeous -- looking just as sharp and high-contrast as Microsoft claims -- and the 3:2 aspect ratio doesn't feel weird. The only thing that throws you is, in laptop mode, the Windows logo appearing along the right side rather than below the screen.

The Type Cover keyboard snaps in just like previous models -- and those earlier keyboards are still compatible with the Surface Pro 3. On once side of the keyboard is a fairly cheap-looking holdster for the digital pen, but that's still a better solution than the magnetic pem holder on previous Pro models.

The hinge is impressive. The minimum angle is something like 30 degrees (otherwise the tablet would tip over), but you can go way beyond that, up to 150 degrees. The level of resistance is just right -- light enough for you to manipulate with one hand, but hard enough to stand up to everyday tapping and writing. The extra magnetic seal that you get by folding the edge toward the screen really does improve the "lapability" of the SP3 -- you can finally use the Surface on your lap, at any angle, with minimal keyboard shake.

The new touchpad is much, much better than previous versions.

It's all about the pen — and don't call it a stylus

12:15 p.m. ET / May 20, 2014

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The Surface Pro 3 comes with a *pen*, not a stylus, Pany says. It's meant to have the weight of a pen, and work just like pen, when it's paired to the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft spent a lot of time on this specific experience, paying attention to things like lag between the writing and the "ink" that appears (there's supposedly none).

Instant on-capability powered by the Pen, One Note and OneDrive is smart and makes sense for note takers, which many of us are. It's not clear where you store this pen.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 pen is pen sized and includes a button that will turn on the screen and launch OneNote. Any note you take is stored in the cloud and instantly shareable across cloud-connected device.

Just "click" the back of the pen and the Surface Pro 3 comes alive as a notepad (via the OneNote pad). Click it again and the note goes into the cloud via OneDrive.

Surface Pro 3 will cost $799

12:05 p.m. ET / May 20, 2014
Microsoft's newest tablet, the Surface Pro 3, will go on sale starting Wednesday with a $799 price tag.

What Microsoft wants   

11:55 a.m. ET / May 20, 2014

Microsoft says the Surface Pro 3, even with the cover, is the lightest Intel Core product on the market. We're not sure, which MacBook Air they're actually weighing it against, but the claim makes sense.

The device is thinner than an Air (at Air's thickest point) and the cover, which does not have physical keys, is very very thin.

The idea here is a no-compromises computer that competes not with other tablets, but with the MacBook Air. Around the event room there are a lot of Airs, because they have that incredible battery life, portability and power. Microsoft wants professionals to choose the Surface Pro 3.

This is designed as the one device for you backpack, instead of carrying around both an iPad and a laptop — something millions of people do.

The Surface Pro 3 has "lapability"

11:45 a.m. ET / May 20, 2014

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Microsoft's Panos Panay says the new tablet has "lapability.
" What's that mean? We're guessing it's the weight — 800 ounces — and its new adjustable kickstand, which can be set at any angle. Its type cover is much thinner this time: "It has to feel as thin as any device you've ever had," Panay said. It also has a new trackpad. Panay: "We got no praise for our [last] trackpad. We heard you.

Besides the better hinge, which lets you tilt the screen to an angle of up to 150 degrees, the SP3 keyboard also attaches slightly differently for when you want to use it in your lap, reducing how much the tablet shakes when typing.

Adobe optimizes Photoshop for Surface Pro 3

11:35 a.m. ET / May 20, 2014

Michael Gough of Adobe takes the stage to proclaim, "The first time I held [a Surface Pro 3], I was blown away." He then gave the crowd a sneak peek at Photoshop CC — optimized for touch on the Surface Pro 3. Honestly, it's about time we had a touch version of Photoshop CC optimized for Windows tablets. What took so long? 

Microsoft introduces Surface Pro 3 ("The tablet that can replace your laptop.")

11:24 a.m. ET / May 20, 2014

Microsoft just unveiled its third-generation Surface Pro 3 device, with larger surface area than its previous model.

Surface Pro 3 is "the tablet that can replace your laptop," according to the tagline. It’s 9.1mm thin — the "thinnest Intel Core product ever made" — with a 12" screen, multi-position kickstand and a 2160x1440 screen — “pretty important,” according to Panay.It's 1.76 lbs without a keyboard.

What we have here is a full-blown Intel-core-based Windows Machine with a size and weight similar to Surface RT -- which makes us wonder if people held off on buying original Surface Pro because it was too heavy. Yet, Microsoft expanded the screen to 12 inches. That's big. 

The big question here is why did Microsoft ignore the 8-inch revolution? 

Is the company officially moving away from the consumer market? In the tablet space, the answer has to be yes. Consumers who want tablet technology from Microsoft should look to phablet-sized phones from Nokia.

Microsoft shows that the Surface Pro 3 is lighter than a MacBook Air. But is this really the best comparison Microsoft should make? And what about the added weight of a keyboard? Microsoft doesn’t answer that question.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 screen vs. the Surface Pro 2.
Panay is making a big deal about the screen, which sounds great (2160x1440, highest contrast ratios in industry, etc.) and weight, but it's the multi-position kickstand that will get people to use this as a laptop — as Microsoft clearly found, even two positions aren't enough.

Microsoft is talking about scaling technology for the Surface Pro 3. Presumably referring to improved HiDPI support in Windows 8.1. Our question: Are apps going to scale accordingly? Our past tests with using Windows 8.1 with a 4K display has had mixed results. For this type of aspect ratio and screen resolution to work effortlessly, Microsoft needs to ensure its software is up to snuff. 

No one wants to look at tiny icons on a 12-inch screen, especially if your finger is a primary input device.

The Surface man takes the stage

11:10 a.m. ET / May 20, 2014

"A device that enables you to create art and enjoy art.That's the mission of the Surface line, Nadella says, which represents an ideal combination of what a tablet and a laptop has to offer — seemingly pointing toward a larger Surface tablet, as opposed to a smaller one. 

We know it's new hardware, we know it's another Surface, but it's still unclear who this device will before and what size it will be. We're getting nervous that this is going to be for business. The video is showing an architect using Surface, then a student who is developing Web sites.

Microsoft then made a very salient point: 96% of people carrying iPads have laptops in their backpacks. This is true and we're not sure anyone believed tablets would kill laptops, but certainly desktop PCs.

We can’t help but think Microsoft keeps trying to recreate the Courier concept that was killed several years ago. The idea of pen computing is something Microsoft has focused on since the first Windows tablets from the early 2000s. The question, we think, is that very few actual users want to use a pen. Or want to use a Surface the way we see it in these demos.

We're inside — and the event is now getting underway

11 a.m. ET / May 20, 2014

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella opens the event
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, is on stage now — meaning this is a big and important deal for the company. He's recapping what Microsoft has done in the last few months, saying, "Today is the next step of that journey. We're here to talk about hardware." He’s pushing on business and enabling — not talking a lot about consumers, which could be a concern. "We are not interested in building refrigerators or toasters," he added, a subtle reference to something Tim Cook said about Windows hybrids over a year ago -- that they're analogous to refrigerator-toasters, essentially a mashup that no one wants.

No loose lips at Microsoft Surface event

10:30 a.m. ET / May 20, 2014

Mashable's Pete Pachal and Lance Ulanoff are on the scene in New York City -- and they're providing live updates on Twitter. Lance has already spoken to multiple Microsoft representatives and they will reveal nothing. All of them just smile back at him and say to wait. Says Lance: “I even asked on guy to blink once forbid we were wrong and twice if we were right. He literally gave me a bug-eyed stare.�� 

It's do or die for Windows RT

3 p.m. ET / May 19, 2014 / Pete Pachal


This much we know about Microsoft's "small" Surface event happening Tuesday in New York City: It will mark the launch of the long-awaited Surface Mini. The Mini will be Microsoft's official entry into the small-screen tablet market, currently dominated by the likes of the Apple iPad mini and Amazon's Kindle Fire.

What we don't know is exactly how Microsoft is going to present its pint-size Surface to the world. The path Microsoft lays out for the Surface Mini will show just how much confidence the company has in Windows RT, the version of Windows tailor-made for tablets but one that so far hasn't found much love from PC manufacturers.

If there was ever a product where running Windows RT made the most sense, it's a small-screen tablet. Windows RT, after all, is the flavor of Windows that tastes best on tablets powered by ARM chips, putting touch-first apps from the Windows Store front and center. Although it has a desktop, it's really only there to run Office, since apps made for Windows 7 (and earlier versions) won't run on Windows RT devices.

Microsoft hinted at Surface Mini's debut in early-May invitation

May 5, 2014 / Karissa Bell

Microsoft sent us an invitation for a "small gathering" hosted by Microsoft's Surface team in New York on Monday. We’ll be there with a small team — and covering it live.

You can watch it unfold right on Mashable or follow our tweets @MashableLive. Then, stick around for the extensive post-event analysis. 

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