Surface Pro 3: The Hardware
Overall, I was impressed with the Surface Pro 3. Despite that big 12-inch display, it felt thin, light and much better balanced than previous versions. The improved friction-adjusted kickstand and magnetic keyboard both lived up to Microsoft’s claims — they were solid and made the Surface Pro 3 feel almost infinitely adjustable.
I still don’t think of it as a laptop replacement (with the kickstand it’s simply not as stable on your lap as a flat-bottomed portable PC), unless your use of a laptop is to plunk it on a desk or table. In that case, it may be worth paying the premium for the Surface Pro 3, especially if it gives you the opportunity to consolidate down to one device.
Surface Pro 3: The Reception
From the range of presenters, the audience (heavy on artists, photographers and designers), the location (Toronto’s trendy Queen Street West) the tag-line used in promotional material and an emphasis on Photoshop, it was pretty obvious who Microsoft was targeting at this event: visually creative types.
The reception for the Surface Pro 3 was good, the attendees really pushed the hardware and software and many seemed genuinely impressed. Walk-in traffic included a few curious retirees and some kids. They aren’t the demographic Microsoft is targeting with this device — it’s too big and too expensive to be considered a casual use tablet — but having everyone aware that MSFT makes tablets is important for the company.
Overall, I’d say Microsoft is taking the right approach in trying to drum up pre-launch interest in the Surface Pro 3. It has to overcome a lackluster response to previous Surface tablets and try to generate some actual buzz about this one.
Its only real competition in the 12-inch tablet space is Samsung (SSNLF) with the Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 (reviewed here), and the Surface Pro 3 has numerous advantages over that device. Primarily, the use of an Intel (INTC) Core CPU and running desktop software — like Microsoft Office — makes the Surface Pro a more natural choice as a laptop alternative among enterprise customers.
The real question is whether Microsoft will succeed in using the Surface Pro 3 and a collaboration with Photoshop publisher Adobe to take a chunk out of Apple’s iPad and MacBook sales. Luring more of the creative class from the Apple camp to Windows would be a shot at one of Apple’s long-time core customer bases. It wouldn’t just sell more Surface Pro 3s (and prove that the third time’s a charm for MSFT), it would be a public relations coup for the “new” Microsoft under CEO Satya Nadella, adding a much-needed boost to the company’s image and make it seem less tied to the fading PC’s glory days.
We should know the results in few more days, when the Surface Pro 3 goes on sale.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.