May 20 is upon us, which means it’s time for Microsoft’s latest press event. Invites went out two weeks ago, quickly fueling speculation that the company would announce a Surface Mini. In the time that’s followed, we’ve also heard claims of a possible Surface Pro 3, and more recent rumors have suggested that instead of something smaller, we’re looking at something bigger – maybe Surface models up in the 12-inch range. We sent Pocketnow’s Adam Z Lein to New York this morning to find out.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella got things started, taking the stage to talk about a “major step forward” for the Surface family, before passing the mic to Surface head Panos Panay. After sharing some stories about how current Surface users are taking full advantage of the hardware, we get to the meat of today’s event: new hardware.
Sure enough, we’re in twelve-inch territory, with Microsoft introducing the Surface Pro 3.
Microsoft calls the Surface Pro 3 “the tablet that can replace your laptop.” It measures 9.1mm thick, thinner than the existing Pro 2, and features a twelve-inch 2160 x 1440 screen with a new 3:2 aspect ratio, as opposed to the 16:9 on the Pro 2, and offers what Microsoft calls the “highest contrast ratio in the industry.”
What about the silicon? The surface Pro 3 should have no problem out-powering the Pro 2 thanks to the addition of an Intel Core i7 processor. That kind of chip requires some decent cooling, which means the Pro 3 gets a fan. But Microsoft is adamant that this is no ordinary fan, and the company has gone to some lengths to make sure that air is dispersed from all sides of the tablet’s frame so as to minimize the degree to which you’ll feel it.
The Surface kickstand sees a major redesign, fully adjustable from upright, down to a nearly-flat 150 degrees. There are also new keyboard covers to go with the new tablet, and they’re similarly super-thin. The new Touch Cover sees a 68% larger trackpad with a new low-friction coating. The Touch Cover also gets a new trick where it folds up against the screen to reinforce its attachment to the tablet itself, offering users extra stability when typing.
Other hardware features include USB 3.0 connectivity, Mini DisplayPort output, and five-megapixel front and rear cameras. As this is a Surface Pro, there’s an active stylus on-board, support 8-bit pressure sensitivity. The battery is rated for about nine hours of web browsing. And for music lovers, the tablet’s front-facing speakers are 45 percent louder than those on the Pro 2.
How about hardware configurations? While that i7 option is out there, it’s not your only choice: the Surface Pro 3 will be available with a Core i3 or i5 as well. The lowest-end option will be an i3 with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage at about $800. Next we have two i5 options, either with 4GB/128GB or 8GB/256GB for $1000 and $1300, respectively. Finally, there are the i7s, both with 8GB of RAM: you’ll pay $1550 for 256GB storage, or $1950 for the top-of-the-line 512GB option.
Pre-orders for the Surface Pro 3 open tomorrow.