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Digital Life

First look: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Thinner, lighter and more powerful than the previous version, will this be the tablet that can replace your laptop? VINCENT CHANG finds out

Published on Jun 6, 2014 5:00 AM
Microsoft Surface Pro 3

From $1,108 for the Core i3 model with 64GB of storage; expected to ship at the end of August; pre-order from Improved kickstand


At around 9mm thick, the Surface Pro 3 is very slim. It has shed an impressive 100g, despite having a larger screen than the previous Surface Pro. But at 800g, it is still heavier than a typical tablet.


The screen has gone up from 10 to 12 inches. And if it looks more squarish than before, it is due to a 3:2 aspect ratio that one usually finds on old-school laptops.

Compared with the usual widescreen format, it shows more when you browse the Web and requires less scrolling.

The screen resolution is an impressive 2,160 x 1,440 pixels and it looks really sharp, with excellent viewing angles.

Type Cover

The new Type Cover ($183) now helps to support the tablet. It attaches to the front of the screen via magnets, so the Surface Pro is more stable when it is placed on the lap. There is no Touch Cover - which has no physical keys and is much thinner - for the new Surface Pro.

The keys, which feel rather shallow, are backlit. The touchpad, while significantly larger than in the previous version, still feels cramped for gestures such as two-finger scrolling.


With a fourthgeneration Intel Core processor, the Surface Pro is as capable as a typical ultrabook. It comes with a built-in Trusted Platform Module for hardware encryption, which is practically a must for business machines.

Battery life

Microsoft claims the Surface Pro will last up to nine hours of Internet browsing. Expect the battery to go flat sooner if you are watching videos.


The Surface Pro comes with speedy solid-state drives. The base Core i3 model has 64GB of RAM and this goes up to 512GB for the Core i7 version.


As in the previous version, the new Surface Pro has a full-sized USB 3.0 port and a mini-DisplayPort. You can add up to 128GB of storage using the microSD card slot hidden under the kickstand.

Improved kickstand

The new kickstand can be adjusted between 22 and 150 degrees. The previous model supported only two angles.

Surface Pen

An aluminium pen is included with the Surface Pro. It is thicker than the previous stylus and feels more like a proper pen.

The tablet supports up to 256 levels of pressure sensitivity, so by varying the strength of your pen strokes, one can use the pen to do detailed sketches.

You can rest your palm on the tablet while writing as the software can distinguish it from pen input.

Microsoft includes a note-taking app, OneNote, which works well with the pen and tablet. For instance, you can click a button at the top of the pen to instantly upload your current document to the cloud.

However, the pen is thicker than the tablet so it cannot be stored within the device. The Type Cover has an attachment to hold the pen.

This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on June 4, 2014.