Surface Pro 3 arrives to lead the Windows tablet tribe, slay the laptop

12-inch screen, anyone?

Microsoft's tablet family has a new head of the table as the company announced the Surface Pro 3 during a New York City event.

The device arrives to "take away the conflict" Microsoft says consumers experience when trying to decide between a laptop and a tablet. In fact, the Surface Pro 3 makes the choice easy as it's billed as a laptop killer.

"This is the tablet that can replace your laptop," Microsoft's Panos Panay said.

The device is designed around thinness at every corner, measuring 9.1mm thin (0.36 inches) and 800 grams (1.76 pounds) in weight. Despite its slight stature, the Surface Pro 3 manages to run with 10% more performance power than the Surface Pro 2, thanks in no small part to the top-end Intel Core i7 processor.

The whopping screen measures 12 inches (38% bigger than the Pro 2's) with a 2160 x 1440 pixel count. The aspect ratio is designed to emulate a pad of paper at 3:2, which Panay says is rare for this screen size. The new Surface display has 50% more pixels than the Pro 2.

More Surface Pro 3 specs

The Surface Pro 3's storage spans between 64 and 512 GB with either 4 or 8GB of RAM.

Its speakers are 45% louder than its predecessor and features a full-friction kickstand, perfect for standing nearly vertical or almost flat in canvas mode. Use it any angle, the Surface Pro 3's "lapability" is bar none.

The Pro 3 also features a USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort and a microSD card reader for expandable storage.

Panay said the Surface Pro 3's 9 hour battery lasts 20% longer than the last Surface Pro while humming on a fanless chassis.

Surface Pro 3 Type Covers and stylus

Microsoft has put a lot of energy into rejiggering the Surface Pro 3's type cover to make it more practical and more comfortable.

Surface Type cover

Covers of many colors

It can plug in and adjust to any angle, Panay demonstrated, spanning between 0 and 150 degrees. The tablet's Type Cover click-in keyboards come in five colors and feature 63% larger trackpads.

The company also talked up a new Surface Docking Station (available for US$199.99, or about AU$216) designed for the Pro 3 and due in a few months. The dock's output supports 4K, by the way.

Panay spent plenty of time on the Surface Pro 3's N-trig stylus, which is as much of a pen as you can get on a tablet. In fact, the Redmond firm doesn't even want you to think of the scribbler as a traditional stylus; this is a pen, just one that writes glass screens instead of paper.

The stylus and N-trig's integrated touch technology replace Wacom and Atmel, which provided pen and touch capabilities for the previous Pro generation.

Thanks to a feature called palm block, your hand can rest on the screen without messing up what you're doing with your fingers/pen on the display.

The Surface Pro 3 and pen combo have the lowest latency in the industry, Panay said. Microsoft has also done away with the parallax effect that beleaguers many users.

A cool feature Panay introduced happens when users click the stylus when the Surface Pro 3 is turned Off. The click turns on the tablet's note taking screen, letting users write notes which can then be saved to the cloud via OneNote. It's for those moments when you wake up at 3 a.m. with a brilliant (or bad) idea and want to scribble it down in the dark.

Surface Pro 3 release date and price

Surface Pro 3 pre-orders are set to go live tomorrow at microsoftstore.com. While North America will have the Surface Pro 3 available in stores by June 20, Australia will have the Pro 3 from August 31.

The Core i3 variant kicks things off at AU$979 for the i3 model. The Core i5 model will start at AU$1,209, followed by the Core i7 at AU$1,829. At the top, the Surface Pro 3 with a Core i7 processor 512GB storage and 8GB of RAM runs AU$2,279.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

News Editor (US)

As the US News Editor, Michelle (Twitter, Google+) keeps her eye on all things tech with particular interest on phones, tablets and finding out who the people are behind the devices. Any phone that can survive a regular (accidental) drop has her vote for best handset. Michelle previously worked covering local news in the Bay Area and has been with TechRadar since July 2012.