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Surface Pro 3

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Earlier today Microsoft announced its 3rd generation Surface Pro device, aptly named the Surface Pro 3. This is the first Surface model to deviate from the 10.6″ 16:9 form factor of all four previous devices (Surface Pro, Surface RT, Surface Pro 2, Surface 2) and instead standardizes on a 12″ 3:2 form factor. The resulting device is also substantially thinner, now at 9.1mm (0.36″). Surface Pro 3 is now somewhere between the thickness of Surface 2 and Surface RT.

The original Surface Pro featured a kickstand that could stay open at a fixed 22-degree angle. Surface Pro 2 added another stop (40 degrees) to the kickstand to allow for more flexible, laptop-like operation. Surface Pro 3 features the same initial 22-degree stop, however it can be opened to any angle beyond that (up to 150-degrees) using a new high friction hinge. The hinge opens with little effort to its first stop, anything beyond that requires additional force. It’s enough to feel secure, but not too little that the hinge loses its position. It’s unclear how this new hinge will hold up over time but I suspect Microsoft put a good amount of testing into it.

When Microsoft invited us to a “small gathering” here in New York City, we thought that meant a smaller-screened Surface Mini was in order. Instead, the company just announced a larger Surface, the 12-inch Surface Pro 3. Like the previous Surface Pro, it supports pen input, making it a good choice for creative professionals, especially with that pixel-dense 2,160 x 1,440 screen. In addition to being the biggest, highest-res Surface yet, though, it’s also the thinnest-ever product with an Intel Core i7 processor. All told, the thing measures just 9.1mm (0.36 inch) thick, putting it on par with an older-gen iPad — incredible when you remember this is more akin to an Ultrabook than a tablet.

In addition to being thin, the Surface Pro 3 is relatively lightweight, at 800g (1.76 pounds). And let’s be clear: When we say “relatively,” we mean compared to a 12-inch laptop, or even a 13-inch Ultrabook; those would weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of three pounds. Even the 11-inch MacBook Air comes in at 2.4 pounds. Of course, the Surface Pro 3 is still heavy next to an iPad Air or Samsung Galaxy Tab. But the Surface Pro was never supposed to compete with those kinds of tablets anyway. No, this is, and always was, a laptop killer.