Microsoft Surface Pro 3 full review
Google has launched a new product into the tablet market: the Nexus 9. It's a good-looking all-rounder, but is it powerful enough for you? That's where the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 comes in, bringing the portability and touch capabilities of a tablet but also the ability to potentially replace your laptop. See also: Which laptop to buy 2014
The Google Nexus 9 and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 are designed to fit very different needs, so this article should help you determine which one will suit you. Here's our Google Nexus 9 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3 comparison. Read next: Surface Pro 3 vs iPad Air
Google Nexus 9 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Design & build
Google teamed up with HTC to design the Nexus 9, which we think looks sleek, sophisticated. It sports a brushed metal frame around the edge and soft grip plastic on the back. The Nexus 9 comes in black, white and a new sand colour.
The Nexus 9 is 7.95mm thick, and is 425g. Unsurprisingly, with its much bigger screen, the Surface Pro 3 is thicker and much heavier, at 9.1mm (which we think is impressive for a tablet with such powerful innards) and a weighty 800g.
While the Surface Pro 3 is not as sleek as the Nexus 9, it does have some benefits, including a built-in kickstand that can be used in lots of different positions. The Surface Pro 3 is only available in a simple silver and black design.
Google Nexus 9 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Screen
Google's Nexus 9 has 8.9in screen, while the Microsoft Surface Pro 3's screen is significantly bigger at 12in. The aspect ratio of the Nexus 9 is 4:3 like the iPad, but Microsoft has gone for a 3:2 aspect ratio that the company says is reminiscent of a piece of A4 paper.
The resolution of the IPS display on the Nexus 9 is 2048 x 1536, with a pixel density of 281ppi. The Surface Pro 3's resolution is similar, at 2160 x 1440, but with more screen estate for those pixels to fill, the pixel density is lower at 216ppi.
See also: Surface Pro 3 vs Surface Pro 2
Google Nexus 9 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Hardware & performance
Inside the Nexus 9, you'll find an nVidia Tegra K1 processor, which is a 2.3GHz 64-bit dual-core Denver chip. That's paired with 2GB of RAM. We've not yet had a chance to run our full benchmark tests on the Nexus 9 to determine exactly how powerful, but we expect it to be a speedy tablet, that's for sure.
Of course, it's not going to be as powerful as the Surface Pro 3, which Microsoft has designed as a device that can replace both your tablet and your laptop. It features Intel's 4th generation Intel Core processors (i3, i5 or i7 depending on the model you choose), which are the same chips you'll find in some laptops and desktop computers. That's coupled with either 4GB or 8GB RAM.
The Nexus 9 offers 16- or 32GB of internal storage but unfortunately no microSD card slot, while the Surface Pro 3 offers up to a whopping 512GB, and a microSD card reader too.
When it comes to connectivity you'll find NFC in the Nexus 9, as well as optional 4G LTE, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1. The Surface Pro 3 also boasts 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, a USB 3 port and a Mini DisplayPort.
Additional features in the Nexus 9 include the front facing HTC BoomSound stereo speakers that'll make watching videos, TV and movies a dream.
See also: Nexus 7 vs Nexus 9 comparison
Google Nexus 9 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Cameras
Cameras on the back of tablets is a bit of an odd thing, but the Nexus 9 has one on the rear and one on the front. The rear-facing camera is 8Mp with an f/2.4 aperture, and is even accompanied by an LED flash. Video recording capabilities are 1080p, and there's a 1.6Mp camera on the front.
The Surface Pro 3 also has a camera on the front and on the back. Both are 5Mp, and can record in 1080p.
Google Nexus 9 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Accessories
The Surface Pro 3 and Nexus 9 both have optional accessories that can enhance their capabilities.
The Surface Pro 3 is rarely seen without its Type Cover, which helps with that notion that the tablet can replace your laptop. The Type Cover clicks into place magnetically, providing a full, traditional keyboard and trackpad as well as protection for the Surface Pro 3's screen.
This is also where you get to personalise your Surface Pro 3, as there are Red, Purple, Navy, Blue and Black options. It will cost you £109 for the keyboard though, so that's another big expense to take into consideration.
The Nexus 9 also has the option of a magnetically attached keyboard, though it only offers two angles and is only available in black. It also lacks a trackpad, despite being priced at a pound more than Microsoft's offering.
Microsoft has taken things even further by offering a £45 Surface Pen, a connected stylus that has more than 250 levels of pressure sensitive, palm block technology and a physical button on the side for quick and easy use.
Of course, you could always buy a third-party stylus for use with the Nexus 9 if you'd like one.
Google Nexus 9 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Software
The Nexus 9 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is an operating system designed specifically for mobile, while the Surface Pro 3 runs Windows 8.1 Pro, so allows users to run full desktop versions of apps.
Some software developers such as Adobe have been working to make their applications optimised for touch on the Surface Pro 3, which means this device could be a huge boon for designers, photographers and developers on the move.
This is one of the biggest selling points for the Surface Pro 3, and emphasises the idea that you could potentially replace both your tablet and laptop with it.
Google Nexus 9 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Price
Of course, then there's the matter of price, and it's another big differentiator between these two devices.
The Nexus 9 starts at a reasonable £319, while the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 will set you back between £639 and £1,649, depending on how much power you need.
If we haven't yet convinced you that the Surface Pro 3 is for those looking for a powerful tablet that can help them achieve almost all of the same tasks as a laptop could then the price range should help you realise that this isn't a tablet that's simply designed for browsing the web, playing casual games and jotting down a few notes.
The Nexus 9, on the other hand, is ideal for anyone thinking about buying a tablet for use on the commute home to keep you entertained. You'll be able to achieve some productivity tasks on your Nexus 9, of course, but you'll be limited to mobile apps.
Google Nexus 9 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Verdict
Taking a look over the specs and features of both tablets, it should quickly become clear to you which of these devices is most suited to your needs.
If you like the idea of having a tablet that can replace your laptop, enabling you to use full versions of the Office suite, Photoshop and Illustrator and more, then the Surface Pro 3 is ideal. It's a brilliant piece of kit that manages to combine portability, a large, great quality touchscreen and incredible power.
But for those of you hoping to use their tablet for tasks such as emailing, browsing the web, using social media, watching TV, movies and videos and playing mobile games then the Nexus 9 is a fantastic new offering from Google that we consider to be an all-rounder and a strong rival to Apple's iPads.
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