The Surface Pro 3 is a laptop, a tablet, and a desktop PC. It's good, but not great, at all of the above. But do people want a good all-rounder, or a great single-use device? Will the Surface Pro 3 succeed? Let's find out. (For more, see: Surface Pro 3 review: a truly portable laptop, and an acceptable tablet - great engineering but is it what people want?)
A laptop, a tablet, and a desktop PC. The Suface Pro 3 is undeniably a stunning piece of engineering. But that doesn't make it a successful product, necessarily.
A 12in slate that runs Windows 8, the Surface Pro 3 offers great build, design and battery life. It is a top performer: up there with the best desktop PCs. And because of the innovative kickstand and Type Cover, it is a decent, and very portable laptop. As a tablet it is a little big and bulky, but a tablet it is.
In this video we look at the Surface Pro 3, considering its build, design, performance, display, connectivity and cameras. But more than that we ask: can a great all rounder ever be a great product? Do people want one device to rule them all? (See also: Which laptop to buy: 2014 laptop buying advice, and the best laptops of 2014.)
Surface Pro 3: great display
The Surface Pro 3 is built around a 12in ClearType full-HD Plus multitouch display. It is noticably sharper than the previous generations of Surface Pro, a genuinely impressive display at this size. A native resolution of 2160 x 1440 pixels makes for a decent pixel density of 216ppi.
The extra size makes the Surface Pro 3 a feasible laptop. It's a big difference from a 10in tablet with a keyboard attached. And that isn't the only upgrade. Whereas the aspect ratio was previously 16:9, the Surface Pro 3 is a 3:2 device. Open it in portrait mode and it feels like an A4 pad, but in landscape orientation movies look good. (Read: Why the Surface Pro 3 will be Microsoft's last Surface tablet.)
Surface Pro 3: Type Cover
The Type Cover is a must-have, although not a cheap, addition to the Surface Pro 3. Costing an additional £109 the Type Cover is a screen-protecting cover that attaches to one side of the Surface Pro 3 using a magnet. It snaps into place with a satisfying click, and then works like a book cover to protect your Surface Pro 3's display.
Fold it out and it works well as a keyboard. The trackpad has been expanded from previous Type Covers, and is now a reasonably sized 89 x 43mm. The other Surface Pro 3 peripheral is the pen, which comes free with every model. This is a nice, silvery metal device. (See also: New Surface Pro 3 new features.)
Surface Pro 3: specs and performance
Each model comes with a fourth-generation Intel Core processor, either i3, i5, or i7. This is paired with either 4GB or 8GB RAM, and storage options range from a 64GB SSD through 128GB, 256GB to 512GB. Our test model is a Core i5 model with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. And, of course, it runs the full Intel version of Windows 8.1 Pro.
In the PCMark7 benchmark the Surface Pro 3 managed a score of 4864. This is a very healthy score, a full 200 points ahead of the 13in MacBook Air with which the Surface Pro 3 will be most closely compared. It's definitely in the top echelon of portable PCs. Connectivity options abound, too. There is a full-size USB 3.0 port, as well as a microSD card reader that allows you to expand the Surface Pro 3's storage by 128GB. A Mini DisplayPort allows you to use a larger display with your Surface Pro 3. The Surface Pro 3 comes with Bluetooth 4.0. You get 802.11ac/802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi via a two-stream 11ac wireless adaptor.
Microsoft claims up to nine hours of web browsing use. The Surface Pro 3 is part of the new breed of ultraportable workstations that allow you to step away from the mains for a significant period of time.
Surface Pro 3: cameras
The Surface Pro 3 comes with two 5Mp cameras - hardly high-end, but about what you'd expect from a laptop rather than a smartphone or tablet. 1080p video calling is supported.
Microsoft and Intel really want the Surface Pro 3 to succeed, as it will show the possibilities of the Wintel combination and put Windows 8 into competition with mobile devices such as iPads and Android smartphones. It is indisputably a high-class device, a great feat of engineering. But I have a suspicion that people like having a separate Kindle or iPad for fun things, and a laptop for work. We'll see. (See also: Surface Pro 3 vs Surface Pro 2 comparison: new Windows tablet is bigger and better - but who will buy?)