Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Hands On Review

The Surface Pro 3 doesn’t launch in Australia until August, but I’ve spent a little time with Microsoft’s third generation professional tablet. Here’s my early thoughts.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Initial Upsides

I’ve found plenty to be critical of Microsoft’s Surface strategy in the past, especially as it relates to the Surface RT line.
The Surface Pro line, however, have generally been tastier devices, although I was left with a mixed impression of the Surface Pro 2. So the third generation of Pro tablet — and the first not to have a direct equivalent “RT” model — was something I was keen to get to grips with, while at the same time being aware that I might not be top of Microsoft’s list of easy journalists when it came to Surface appraisal.
I’ve only had a limited amount of time — less than half an hour, and entirely supervised — with a Surface Pro 3, so there’s no way I’d reasonably do a full “review” of the Surface Pro 3 yet. It did give me time to get some impressions down on the third generation Surface Pro 3, however.
The biggest single improvement, even though it doesn’t sound like much, is the kickstand. I loathed the kickstand on the first generation, and found the 2nd generation model to be a great improvement. The Surface Pro 3’s fully adjustable kickstand is even better.

That new kickstand is pretty damned awesome. And I can say that with only limited hands-on time. (picture: Microsoft)
That new kickstand is pretty damned awesome. And I can say that with only limited hands-on time. (picture: Microsoft)

The Surface Pro 3’s weight reduction is also quite welcome. When I reviewed the Surface Pro 2, I noted that it was “either a low-weight laptop, or an extremely heavy tablet.” The Surface Pro 3’s 798 gram carrying weight represents a decent slimming down effort, although it’s still a little weightier than some of its direct tablet competition.
The Surface Pro 3 is undeniably a premium tablet, and it does feel like a premium device when held. That’s a plus, especially at the price point of some of the higher end Surface Pro 3 configurations.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Initial Downsides

That weight loss is welcome, but even within a short preview span, it became quickly apparent to me that this still isn’t a tablet that’s comfortable to use in portrait orientation for any length of time. That’s somewhat the nature of a 12″ tablet, but the specific weighting of the Surface Pro 3 doesn’t help matters much there.

These pics don't show the Surface Pro 3 in portrait mode. There's a reason for that. (picture: Microsoft)
These pics don’t show the Surface Pro 3 in portrait mode. There’s a reason for that. (picture: Microsoft)

There’s the obvious point also that there’s plenty of competition in the tablet space, and not just from the usual Android and iOS spaces. With units like the Toshiba Encore or the Dell Venue Pro to compete with, the Surface Pro 3 has some serious price competition to face.
To be specific, while an entry level Core i3 64GB Surface Pro 3 sits at $979, that pricing jumps all the way up to $2,279 for the Core i7 512GB variant. That starts to shift, in my opinion, out of the “premium” space, and into the “luxury” one, especially considering the kind of power you can get in an Ultrabook form factor in that price range.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Pricing

Microsoft will offer the Surface Pro 3 in five configurations in Australia in August. Specifically, they’ll sell like so.

  • 64GB/Intel i3 $979
  • 128GB/Intel i5 $1209
  • 256GB/Intel i5 $1549
  • 256GB/Intel i7 $1829
  • 512GB/Intel i7 $2279

If you absolutely can’t wait for a Surface Pro 3 until then, Microsoft representatives told me that they would honour warranty issues for units purchased in any market where Surface Pro 3 is sold — and it’s already on sale in the US. Just a thought if you’re really keen. Stay tuned for a full review.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

1 thought on “Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Hands On Review

  1. Good to have an Aussie hands-on / first thoughts Alex 🙂 This certainly looks like the best Surface yet….premium device + price. I would have thought the change in ratio away from 16:9 to 3:2 would have substantially helped the portrait mode use? Did they confirm if AUS would get the new US release Surface 3 dock as well?

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