Microsoft might have decided not to release its Surface Pro 2 in Malaysia for a reason that is not within our knowledge but nevertheless, it seems that the Redmond giant still has our market within its view: by announcing the release date for Surface Pro 3 in Malaysia, right on the same day the device’s unveiling last month.
During our visit to the recent Computex 2014 in Taipei, we were granted a brief access to Surface Pro 3 thanks to the folks at Intel and Microsoft. So, hop in to take a closer look at the new Windows 8.1 Pro tablet which will be heading to our market later this year.
In case you didn’t notice, a Surface Pro is essentially a full-fledged PC in tablet form factor. Why? Well, consider these two main factors: one, Surface Pro is powered by an x86 processor; namely the Intel Core family of processor. Second, it is running on Windows 8.1 Pro operating system. So, the Surface Pro line of tablets are certainly a PC.
The series third generation model – simply called the Surface Pro 3 – was again built on the same premise but at the same time, it also offers plenty of refinements over Surface Pro 1 and 2 especially in terms of physical design.
One of the first thing that you might notice about Surface Pro 3 is how much thinner and lighter it is compared to the previous two Surface Pro devices. In fact, this is something that you might able to see even before you actually held it on your hands. The technical details of the Surface Pro 3 showed that the tablet has a thickness of 9.1mm which is just slightly higher than a standard height of a USB port and weighs at only 800 grams.
Draped in silver colourway just like Surface 2, another highlight of Surface Pro 3 is its kickstand which can be positioned at any angle between 0 to 150 degrees. As this flexibility is made possible through the use of resistive hinges, users of previously released Surface devices might feel a bit awkward when using the new kickstand on Surface Pro 3 since you can no longer flip open the kickstand swiftly.
Instead, the kickstand requires a little bit more effort to open and setup. That’s aside, the kickstand is quite strong and stable enough to support the tablet once it is positioned according to user’s desire. The new kickstand also allows users to have better viewing angle which in hand made Surface Pro 3 much more comfortable to be used not only on one’s lap but also, in general.
Since the Surface Pro 3 is equipped with a bigger display than its predecessors at 12-inch, the feel that I experienced when using the device together with the new (but still optional) Type Cover for Surface Pro 3 on my lap is much closer to a traditional laptop especially now that its viewing angle is now much more flexible.
As the front area of the new Type Cover can be folded and snapped magnetically to the tablet, this allows the keyboard to have a better typing position for users. It is also good to see that Microsoft has ditched the suede-like trackpad that was used in the original Touch Cover and Type Cover 2 in favour of a larger, smoother and more responsive trackpad that is apparently embedded with glass beads.
Apart from the new Type Cover, another new accessories that Microsoft has crafted for Surface Pro 3 is the new Surface Pen which is based on N-triq technology and connect wirelessly to the tablet via Bluetooth 4.0. Comes as standard with device, the new stylus is slightly bigger than the original Wacom active stylus that the original Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 has.
While I’m not able to tell you how well the new active stylus works when it comes to sketching since I’m personally don’t have the talent to draw anything that you can remotely consider as a drawing, the new Surface Pen does feel almost as natural as a real pen when it comes to writing or scribbling notes. The tablet is also smart enough to detect when a user is resting his or her palm when using the Surface Pen which should be really useful when a user is drawing or writing on the tablet.
Another interesting functionality that the new Surface Pen has is its ability to activate OneNote – a note taking program by Microsoft, in case you not a familiar with it – through a click button that is located on the top of the pen. With just a single click, one can even activate the program even while the Surface Pro 3 is in sleep mode.
However, the stylus can’t be attached to the tablet’s power port unlike Surface 1 and Surface 2. In fact, the power port for Surface Pro 3 is totally different from its older siblings. When it comes to I/O ports, Surface Pro 3 still retain the same set of ports as per its predecessors such as a full-sized USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort, microSD card reader, and headset jack.
As far as first impression goes, the Surface Pro 3 has certainly managed to grab our attention. The amount of improvements that Surface Pro 3 offers over its predecessors are just immense. In short, it is thinner, lighter and offers more flexibility in terms of positioning as well as viewing angle which in hand made Surface Pro 3 much more comfortable to operate.
It is indeed too bad that our time with Surface Pro 3 is too brief as we still plenty of questions left to answer such as its raw performance, screen quality, audio capability, and the pricing for Malaysian market. We hope we will be able to answer them very soon, when Surface Pro 3 hits Malaysia this coming August.