OS

Unlike the run-of-the-mill Surface RT and Surface 2, the Surface Pro 3 runs the full Windows 8.1 Pro, making it a capable laptop replacement.

iOS 7
iOS 7 versus Windows 8.1 versus Android 4.4

Many users are unhappy with the changes Microsoft made in Windows 8, but as a full desktop OS it's still more capable than the iPad Air's iOS 7 (though granted not as pretty) and the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2's Android 4.4 KitKat.

Accessories

There are three main accessories to consider with tablets of this size: docking stations, covers and styli. Microsoft ships a pen with the Surface Pro 3, and replacements or extras cost $50 (about £30, AU$55). The new $130 (about £80, AU$140) Surface Pro Type Cover is not included, despite how essential it is to the experience, and the docking station costs a shocking $200 (about £120, AU$215) on its own.

Surface Pro 3 accessories
Your Surface Pro 3 bill can rack up quickly

But the iPad Air comes with nothing more than its charger, so any additional accessories will come out of pocket. The Apple tablet's Smart Cover and Smart Case might not have keyboards built in, but they do lock and unlock the screen automatically. Thankfully the cover is only $40 (£35, AU$48) while the case is $80 (£40, AU$100). Apple doesn't market an official iPad stylus, while its official iPad dock is just $30 (£25, AU$40).

Like the Surface Pro 3, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 does come with a stylus, and the S Pen is probably the most versatile digital pen available. As such replacements won't necessarily be cheap, but you can find them online for a variety of prices. Meanwhile the Note Pro 12.2 also has a range of optional covers, keyboards and docks that should fulfill any users' needs.

Price

The iPad Air starts at $500 (£400, AU$600) but quickly ramps up in price to $930 (£640, AU$1,050) for the best-equipped model, with 128GB of storage and both Wi-Fi and LTE capabilities.

Surface Pro 4 Panay announcement
Certainly a pricey tablet

The Surface Pro 3 surpasses it handily though. Microsoft's latest tablet starts at $800 (about £475, AU$865) and peaks at $1,950 (about £1,200, AU$2,100) for the configuration with Intel's i7 chip, 512GB of storage and 8GB of memory. And keep in mind you'll be paying an extra $130 for the Type Cover.

Likewise the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 starts at $750 (£650, AU$1,100), but it only gets as high as $850 (£750, AU$1,250).

Verdict

The iPad Air, the Surface Pro 3, and the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 are three tablets at the top of their game, and which one is for you depends on precisely what you're looking for.

Do you crave the consistency and ease-of-use of Apple's tried-and-true iOS experience? Do you feel the pull of the wild frontier known as Android, not to mention the Samsung tablet's large(st) screen and impressive octa-core processor?

Or are you sick of lugging a notebook around and looking for a true laptop replacement like the Surface Pro 3, no matter its price?

Consider well, because no matter which you choose it's not going to be cheap.