So you go to the store – you’re interested in a tablet. They’re sleek, they’re hip, they’re fun… and they’re the direction technology is going. iPad is easily the most popular, most established format to go with – so you take the plunge.
Instantly, you’re in love. The screen is gorgeous, the battery lasts so long you rarely ever think about re-charging and it performs everything it does so well that you think you’ve found the only device you ever want to have on your person… but you realize you have work to do. Amongst many other Office alternatives, you try Apple’s iWork Suite out and collide first-hand with limited capabilities and a pestering tendency to show you your documents in a format that your executive director did not receive on their copy of the real Microsoft Office. So you try out the fresh new version of Microsoft Office on iPad, hesitantly buy into the Office 365 subscription and find that it’s missing many full-feature options your line of work requires you to have… now reality kicks in and you realize you need a computer… a real one.
Already invested into Apple’s ecosystem, the natural choice is a MacBook Pro. The price freezes you solid where you stand, but other Apple aficionados have already convinced you it’ll be worth it. The retina display of your iPad has you too spoiled to save the $100 by buying non-retina, so you dive straight into the $1299 beast that is the Retina MacBook Pro. You swipe and feel accomplished as you walk out the door. It doesn’t hit you until later that; after tax, you’ve spent well over two grand only to increase the amount of non-phone devices you have to charge, manage, and take with you twofold.
Burying that bit of disappointment that neither your iPad or MacBook Pro can be the full supplement that rids your need for the other, you carry on with life… convinced that’s just how things have to be. Until now.
Microsoft’s Surface Pro lineup is no stranger to breaking into the (admittedly expansive) niche of replacing both your tablet and laptop; but now they’re getting aggressive… and this time they’re closer than ever.The 1st and 2nd generation Surface Pros brought a lot to the table and won a lot of hearts for being the solution not only to tablet owners’ problems, but the problems laptop owners face.
Personally, there’s been too many instances where I found myself at a business meeting or college campus typing away at notes on my laptop while my co-workers and colleagues stroke away with their primitive pens and pencils. My three lines of typed text happened way quicker than their three lines of written text, and I feel good being ahead of the pack… then every laptop’s mortal enemy appears; dynamic input. The moment a graph, diagram or chart appears the tides turn and I find myself surfing through special input options for a way for my mouse and keyboard setup to mimic the free-handing happening before me. Surface Pro’s digitizer input solved that in a way that put tens of thousands of laptops to shame by offering palm-blocking stylus input alongside their capacitive multi-touch screen.
…and; of course, there’s the more modern swing of things. The tablet. You can find quality tablets running iOS or Android a dime a dozen… but once you step out of the little girl world where people speak the language of hashtag and #nofilter, things get real as you stumble around looking for adequate methods to pretend that toy is a professional’s item. You dress it up with a bluetooth keyboard, put it in a folio case and try as hard as possible to work it into your professional curriculum; but it’s simply not running Windows… or even MacOSX for that matter – and that becomes more and more of a problem as you graduate into the real world. Again, something the Surface Pro series solved by offering tablet form factor with a real operating system… opening the floodgates for it to be a high-powered toy, a professional’s device… or both.
With that said, Microsoft’s first two generations were far from perfect. The 1st gen was loud, easily overheated, had sub-five-hour battery life and just one angle for it’s kickstand… which did not bode well for it’s Lapability™. While the second generation improved vastly on the issues the first gen Surface Pro had, it was still a big, thick tablet (that’s ironically small) and had uneven weight distribution.
So what does the Surface Pro 3 intend to do here? Change the game in a way that’s so epic that Microsoft just knows they’ve nailed it.
This time they’ve pulled no punches. We’ll have to take a moment of silence for the 16:9 screen… while every Surface Pro owner loved to watch iPad people get their movies letterboxed and/or cropped while they played the same video at close-to-prime aspect ratio, there’s more important things out there. This new screen is a lot more ideal for content and has the inspiration that it should be much like a sheet of paper. It has a frighteningly high-resolution 2160×1440 res 12 in screen and it looks great. I immediately became skeptical the moment I heard they were going to make this even bigger until finding that they’d actually make it quite a lot lighter and thinner… but the true amazement sinks in when one gets their hands on it and realizes they’ve distributed the weight more evenly. It’s comfortable to hold regardless of whether it be portrait or landscape now!
It’s both longer-lasting and stronger, the before two-stage kickstand now has an adjustable full-friction kickstand that handles anything up to 150⁰, it has a vastly improved type cover/trackpad experience that resolve most any complaint about stability, and instead of starting at $899, it now starts at $799 – offering configurations ranging between 4/8GB RAM, 64-512GB of storage and i3 to i7 processors. The stylus is now an N-Trig stylus instead of Wacom; which – for artists – means 25% of the pressure sensitivity and the light bother of having to swap out AAAA batteries every couple months… but the screen’s optical bonding is allowed to be much closer because of that and it can now turn on the Surface Pro 3 just by clicking the top button.
EDIT 5/23/14: It’s worth mentioning that; while my profession doesn’t lie in art, the big stink made over the less sensitive pen has been addressed by a very established artist who says “it’s still incredibly responsive“. (Link)
The most amazing thing here; however, is that Microsoft may have actually done it this time – created the one device that brings the best of both tablet and laptop into one in a way that provides more than the traditional laptop/tablet setup at a lower cost. Even with the price of a keyboard considered, the 4GB Core i5 is $1,129 compared to a much weightier MacBook Pro+iPad combo that isn’t capable of doing the job as well.