What tablets should be: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 reviewed
4.7Overall Score

Price (RRP): $979 (starting from): Core i3 with 64GB ($979), Core i5 with 128GB ($1209), Core i5 with 256GB ($1549), Core i7 with 256GB ($1829), Core i7 with 512GB ($2279);
Manufacturer: Microsoft

Microsoft’s Surface machines have always been made to highlight the best experience Windows 8 could bring, and in the Surface Pro 3, the company is improving both the design and spec to make a true Ultrabook competitor. Is the third time really the charm?

Features

The third generation of the Surface Pro 3 takes what was familiar from the second generation, flattens it slightly, and brings it to a bigger screen, making it closer to an Ultrabook than previous models.

The most obvious change is the touchscreen, which leaps from a 10.6 inch 1920×1080 screen on the 16:9 aspect ratio to a larger 12 inch screen running the higher resolution of 2160×1440 on the 3:2 aspect ratio, the same aspect ratio relied on by 35mm cameras.

A bigger screen and a slightly different aspect ratio means you’ll get more screen real estate to work with, and these numbers all translate to a close-to-Retina value of 216 pixels per inch for the screen clarity (Apple’s 13 inch MacBook Pro comes in at 221ppi).

Underneath this is all the technology, and in the Surface Pro 3, that means a few configurations can be selected.

At the bottom end of the scale, is one with Intel’s Core i3 processor, working alongside 64GB storage and 4GB RAM, with a Core i5 with 128GB storage and 4GB RAM also being provided as a second option.

Up from there, you’ll find an Intel Core i5 paired with 256GB storage, or a Core i7 working alongside variants with either 256GB or 512GB storage. Both the 256 and 512GB variants rely on 8GB RAM.

The review model was an Intel Core i5 model working with 256GB storage and 8GB RAM.

Chips, storage, and memory are all important, and Windows 8.1 is installed here out of the box, but so are other bits and pieces, and you’ll find plenty of those in the Surface Pro 3, too.

As such, connectivity is catered for on wireless with 802.11a/b/g/n and 802.11ac, with Bluetooth 4.0 LE also provided here, while wired ports are handled through the standard 3.5mm headset jack, USB 3.0 port, and a Mini DisplayPort. A microSD slot is also provided, under the flap for the kickstand, with Microsoft’s proprietary magnetic Cover port sitting on the bottom edge.

The cameras have received an update, great if you plan on using video conferencing apps or taking pictures with your tablet, with the 720p cameras jumping to 5 megapixel on each side.

The speaker is hard to see, but there in that little recess.

The stereo speakers are also apparently louder, and the kickstand has been changed drastically, no longer supporting merely two positions and being tightened for all manner of positions.