Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 Wants to be a Laptop Killer, Could End up Killing Itself

surface pro 3 microsoftMicrosoft is holding their press event for the Surface  tablet today, and it looks like many of the rumors circulating over the past couple weeks have come true (just not the rumors about the 8″ Surface Mini).

The Surface Pro 3 is a larger tablet than previous Surface models, with a more powerful CPU. It sports a 12″ display, a screen resolution of 2160 x 1440, and it runs Windows 8.1 on a Core-i7 CPU.

According to Microsoft, the Surface Pro 3 has the same dual touchscreen tech found on previous models, but the high end models are around 10% faster than the Surface Pro 2, offers longer battery life, and offer 6% more screen real estate than the Macbook Air. This tablet is intended to replace your laptop, which is exactly the same goal that Microsoft had for the previous models (and look how well that turned out).

The Surface Pro 3 measures a mere 9.1mm thin and weighs in at 800 grams, making it thinner and lighter than its predecessor. The Pro 3 is even lighter than the 13″ Macbook Air, as MS pointed out at the press event:


In addition to the new tablet, Microsoft is launching a new Typecover that includes a larger trackpad which is 68% larger and slicker.The new cover attach differently than the ones that came before. It still snaps into the bottom, but then it also folds up a little at the hinge.

There’s also a new desktop docking station which offers 4k video output as well as a plethora of ports.

All in all, Microsoft has made a number of changes that improve the tablet and bring it closer to being a true laptop replacement; if only they had stopped there.

Microsoft is so eager to pitch the Surface Pro 3 as a laptop replacement that they went a step too far and tried to convince us that it could be used on our laps. This strikes me as a recipe for disaster:

surface pro 3 microsoft

If you use your Surface Pro 3 like this, don’t be surprised if it falls and breaks. Unlike a laptop, which has most of its weight in the base, the Surface pro 3 has all of its weight behind the screen. The mildest bump could send it sliding to the floor, resulting in a loud and expensive crunchy noise.

There’s also a chance that the tablet will jump to its death willingly, just to escape the ignominy of having a kickstand and a typecover.

According to Sunday’s rumors, the more expensive models will retail for $1,549 (Core-i7 chip, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage) and $1,949 Core-i7 chip, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage).

And according to what Microsoft is saying at the press event, the cheapest model will sport a Core-i3 chip and cost $800 when it goes on sale tomorrow. This tablet is suppressed to be up for pre-order now, but I can’t see any sign of it on the Microsoft website (yet).

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Name20 May, 2014

    It’s a pity that they don’t offer a fanless version of this, possibly with a Bay Trail-T chip instead of the Core-i. Should also cost about $200 less to build than the i3 model, looking at Intel’s processor list prices alone. Otherwise, I like the new screen.

    1. fjtorres20 May, 2014

      The new screen should be spectacular for reading. And the aspect ratio will help, too. I’ll have to keep an eyeout for refurbs of the i3 next year. 🙂

      1. Name20 May, 2014

        You lucky people in the US often have some incredible deals for refurbished devices, which I in Europe can only envy most of the time. 🙂

        1. Nate Hoffelder20 May, 2014

          We might not get the newest devices but we do get the best deals.

        2. fjtorres20 May, 2014

          Mostly it is because we can buy devices with 90 day warranties. Or one year.

          1. Name20 May, 2014

            Well, laws were I am mandate sellers to give one year warranty for used and refurbished devices, two years for new devices. So yes, if that could be reduced significantly, we might also see better deals. Or maybe our market is just not as huge as the US one.

    2. Nate Hoffelder20 May, 2014

      One problem with a Surface powered by an Atom chip is that I’m not sure what would justify the high price tag for middling performance. The touchscreen?

      1. Wrfs21 May, 2014

        Where else would you get a 12 inch display with the Surface 3’s resolution and an active stylus? Performance would be good enough. And price could certainly go at least $200 down, if you leave out stuff like the TPM, the fan construction and the expensive processor. The docking station would still be usable. Sure, even then would it not be cheap, but I don’t see any competition at the moment.

        At present, Dell’s Venue 11 Pro with a Bay Trail configuration probably comes closest to a professional Surface-style device and wasn’t it also $500? $200 dollars down from the i3 model would land the Surface 3 at $600. You’d definitely get a better screen, although the Surface 3 would not be as maintainable as the Venue 11 Pro, which has user-replaceable components.

  2. john21 May, 2014

    MSFT musta anticipated your complaint about the tablet being top heavy. The presentation included dropping the device from shoulder height without a scratch. Rippa!

    1. Nate Hoffelder21 May, 2014

      I saw the drop in this video:

      That was a padded floor, not concrete or tile. I’m not sure it disproves my point.

  3. Valentine21 May, 2014

    It has a fan …
    It’s a laptop.

  4. Sturmund Drang21 May, 2014

    “There’s also a chance that the tablet will jump to its death willingly, just to escape the ignominy of having a kickstand and a typecover.”


    1. Nate Hoffelder21 May, 2014

      I don’t think much of the kickstand, no. 🙂

  5. […] the time Microsoft’s Surface press event came to a close on Tuesday the biggest surprise wasn’t the specs for the Surface Pro 3, or […]

  6. […] the time Microsoft’s Surface press event came to a close on Tuesday the biggest surprise wasn’t the specs for the Surface Pro 3, or […]

  7. Nen3 June, 2014

    Fortunately, there’s now hope that the Surface Pro 4 will have at least one fanless model:


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