Is Three the Magic Number for Microsoft’s Surface Pro? An In-depth Look

Surface Pro 3 is here. 3 is the magic number, right? Decide for yourself.

The stage for Microsoft’s press conference to reveal the Surface Pro 3 looked like what you’d have seen at the reveal of the Surface Pro 2, or any technology reveal in the past half a decade. Well, except for one analogue device that seemed out of place. A set of scales.

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They’d come in to play later.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, walks out on stage looking like he’s modelling the clothing range for the Surface Pro range – which happens to be sleek, fitted, and stylish. Become one with your work. Nadella launches right into things by dropping a lot of buzz words, though they strangely don’t create so much buzz. They do however create an attention vacuüm, his words seem pure and filled with passion.

Mobile first, cloud first.

Microsoft’s launch philosophy is clear to them; mobile first, cloud first. Without these they can’t live on the bleeding edge of technology, they can’t become a household name for any technology that doesn’t have Xbox on the name.

Nadella expresses that they want to make a data culture, that they have an obsession with wanting to empower people to be more and do more. Microsoft want to be be dreamweavers it seems, using their technology to enable you to dream and get stuff done, get more out of your life. Productivity is key.


Doctors. Architects. Students. Mothers and fathers. Anastasia, the daughter of Panos Panay, Corporate VP and creator of the Surface.

Microsoft and their partners are obsessing over user experience. It is easy to believe this. Because when partners like Adobe and SAP are all about user experience and you can’t deliver a smooth mobile experience, where do they go? The competition. Microsoft is very aware of this, several times during the 64-minute presentation both Nadella and Panay used Apple products to illustrate points.

We Don’t Make Toasters

What a line from Nadella. They don’t make hardware for hardware’s sake, but the do see themselves as technology alchemists. Mixing together hardware and software to give us, the user, the tonic to make dreams happen.

Today is a huge milestone for Microsoft, the milestone of dreaming the impossible. As Nadella says:

“Can we design and build a device that takes the best of a laptop and tablet, so an individual can read and create and write, allow you to watch a movie and make a move, enjoy art and create art. That is the device we want to create. That is the aim for the Surface line.”

They bring together so many resources, Windows, Skype, OneDrive, and even Microsoft Studios. All of these packaged together with the hardware of the Surface Pro 3 will, in their minds, finally replace the laptop. The Surface Pro 3 was designed for everyone, not just the people in this room.

Tugging Your Digital Heart Strings

I highly recommend you watch the video above. It is obviously greatly produced, but it does a great job of showing who the Surface Pro 3 is aimed at. For example, Steve Gleason, living with ALS:

“I am hopeful for a cure of ALS, until then technology is my cure.”

Let’s Get Techy With It

The reveal video ends, Panos Panay is on stage with a smile on his face and a Surface Pro 3 in hand. He is pointing it at members of the press like a person who has shed a few pounds to fit into their new favourite pair of jeans:

“This isn’t an illusion – I have done that plenty – this is really this slim…

“…Today we take away that conflict, I am absolutely sure of that. I’d like to introduce you Surface Pro 3.”

Unlike 96% of people who own an iPad and a laptop, thus carrying those extra pounds, Panay claims that the Surface Pro 3 can do it all. 

So, what does the Surface Pro 3 have that we need? A lot, apparently, with no compromise.

  • 12” display

    • 2160 x 1440 resolution with a 3:2 aspect ratio (the same as an A4 piece of paper).

    • Highest contrast ratio on the market, which means less eye strain. Productivity.

    • 6% more content on-screen compared to a 13” Macbook Air.

    • 256 points of pressure.

  • Full friction kick stand, positions range from 22 degrees dubbed “Anastasia mode”, all the way to 150 degrees “canvas mode”.

  • Surface Pen.

  • Weighs 800g, but doesn’t include levitation.

    • Even weight distribution across the whole device.

  • Has both USB 3.0 input and 4k resolution output (via new dock).

  • 10% increased performance over the Surface Pro 2.

  • 9.1mm thick, the thinnest Intel Core product ever made.

  • i3 through i7 cpu inside, depending on model.

    • Redesigned fan, enabling 30% increased fan performance.

  • Redesigned click-on-keyboard.

    • Improved trackpad, 68% larger, reduced friction by 78%.

    • Clicks to the base of the screen, securing the keyboard on lap positions., creating the “Lapabilty” that Panay has coined.
  • Improved front facing speakers which are 40% better than the Pro 2 speakers
  • 1080p cameras, capturing at 5 megapixel.

Panay goes over to the scales that we saw at the start of the presentation, he places the Surface Pro 3 on the left scale, then he places a Macbook Air to show how light the Surface Pro 3 is. He then adds an iPad Air on the scales, symbolising that those two items are weighing you down.

He then does the unthinkable. He freaking drops the Pro 3 from shoulder height. This was on purpose to show that it is no weaker than the Pro 2. My heart stopped for a second.

He then hands the Pro 3 to the member of press who inspired him with her words.

Full Power of PC

Panay mentions Photoshop, and asks Michael Gough to come on stage to talk about Photoshop CC and the Pro 3.

Gough demonstrates Photoshop working on the Pro 3, he plays with the optimised features such as pinch and zoom, navigating around the image, and getting lost whilst finger dancing with the image. He saves himself by showing the two finger double tap, this resets the rotation and place of your work.

Panay returns to bring the event to a close, but not before showing off the Pro 3 Pen. It isn’t a stylus, it isn’t cheap, it’s meant to be as pronounced as an actual Pen. According to Panay:

“What can be digital will be digital.”

To follow this prophecy Panay shows off the NY Times crossword puzzle, inputting his text in analogue form and the app transferring it into digital. He then offers the tablet to the app creator, he can keep it if he beats the puzzle before the end of the conference.

We see Final Draft in use Palm Block. Palm Block is a new feature that enables you to use the Pro 3 without the screen moving when you are writing or sketching, great for those creatives amongst us. Panay writes on a script, it looks like he is literally writing on paper, the lines of the text smudge like ink, the latency is extremely low. Good job, Microsoft, good job.

There is a lot of comparing the Pro 3 and its Pen to the pen and paper we all used at school, that our kids use at school. The ability to wake up at 3am and take down an idea that will change the technology landscape, the invent of the Surface perhaps, needs to be captured instantly.

Panay holds the Pro 3 in hand, locks the screen, and picks up a Pro 3 Pen. Clicking the top of the Pen instantly brings the Pro 3 to life, it lands on the OneNote screen. This enables Panay to jot a note, then clicking the Pen again he saves it to OneDrive. Just like scribbling a note on the back of a bar mat, a very large, expensive, bar mat.

A Picture Can Say a Thousand Words

We finally get to see the camera app in use. Panay takes a picture of the display behind him, he doesn’t use his fingers though. He double clicks the Pro 3 Pen and it captures an acid-layered image into OneNote. We are told it is safe, no acid is used to make this work.

Panay traces the text, drags down the original image and reveals his tracing. All instant, smooth, and synced to OneDrive without worrying about it.

Panay announces that everyone in attendance will be getting Surface Pro 3 to take away with them, following the appropriate paperwork is filled out.

The End is Just The Beginning

Well, what an event. No big lights, no loud music or famous stars to plug products. It felt like both Nadella and Panay were talking to us in a bar, down to earth.

Prices start at $799 for the basic Intel Core i3 model. Also available are Core i5, or Core i7 processors, with 4GB or 8GB of RAM and four storage options, ranging from 64GB to 512GB. Pre-ordering begins May 21st.

How do you feel about the Surface Pro 3? Will it replace your laptop? 

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Proto Foe
A gamer borne of all formats.I am currently borrowing games off my son, the circle is complete..