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July 7, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:37am

Review: Hands on with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3

CBR pulls out three best features of Microsoft's latest 'laptop replacement'.

By Ben Sullivan

Is it a tablet or a laptop? Microsoft certainly wants you to believe that the brand spanking new Surface Pro 3 is in fact a laptop, or rather, a laptop replacement.

The successor to the Surface Pro 2, Microsoft ups the game with the newest iteration and at first glance, the Surface Pro 3 really could be a device that Microsoft will be proud of.

The tablet’s got a 12in 2,140 x 1,440 resolution screen with a DPI of 216 ppi and other specs include a MicroSD slot, USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort and of course Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and 5MP cameras both front and rear.

Already on sale in the US, the device will hit UK shores in August. For the cheapest option, at £639, you can pick up a machine that boasts an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. With the i5 and i7 version, of which the i7 is set to go for £1,649, you’ll get storage up to 512GB and 8GB RAM.

However, one drawback from the start is the somewhat expensive keyboard that will cost you £110 extra. Yes, Microsoft seems to think it can market a device as a laptop replacement without the laptop part – a keyboard- coming with it already. With that in mind, the keyboard did colour me impressed, but we’ll get on to that later.


First impressions were excellent, the Surface Pro 3 has a number of features that I really think makes it stand out as a premium product. The functionality seems to have been covered well. It’s fairly light, and can clip into the keyboard and fold up into it (like a laptop) with ease and feels unobtrusive in the hand. Windows 8.1 Pro keeps getting better, and although I’m not a Windows user, the OS seemed to make sense on the Surface Pro 3. Other improvements in the hybrid notably include better battery life and a kickstand happy to rest at most angle, instead of the preset three that came with the second Surface.

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The Surface Pro 3 really is far more improved than its successors, but it does beg the question of has Microsoft has tried to do too much with it? Students with a loan should lap this up, and as a journalist the use case is obvious, but for the general consumer this hybrid does take the risk trying to cover all angles. Perhaps that shouldn’t be Microsoft’s fault though, but the proof will be in the pudding as to whether 2014 is the year device buyers get down with the hybrid world or simply stop workstation evolution in its tracks and we can just all settle down with laptops for the next few years.

Go to the next page to read about my favourite features of the Surface Pro 3.


Thankfully, the Surface Pro 3 does come with some freebies that really make this device shine. Let’s take the Surface Pen for instance. It’s improved since the last version, and feels weighty and premium in the hand. Sensitivity is excellent, and it has a number of buttons that carry out some pretty useful functions.

The one on top, just like a real pen, clicks up and down to change apps and the other act as an eraser or a save button. It’s also pressure sensitive, with a customisable pressure curve so you can really put your own touch onto the tablet.

The input is accurate, writing with OneNote is fun and almost life-like. Though not an artist myself, users who like to doodle should be impressed somewhat with the stylus, and quick note-jotters could also enjoy the freedom of scribbling down some ideas on the train to work.



The Surface Pro 3 now has a hinge, or kickstand, that it completely flexible rather than the one position with the first Surface and two positions with the Surface 2. The new kickstand works on some kind of friction magic trickery and goes a long way in making this device more flexible, which goes a long way to show it’s not always in the software or hardware.



Yes, as I’ve already mentioned, the Surface Pro 3’s type cover is not included in the tablet bundle, but leaving that aside, it’s a great piece of kit. Sturdy, colourful (a range of colours are available) and one stand out feature much like the kickstand that shows some ingenuity – a magnetic fold in the keyboard that allows the user to ‘push up’ the keyboard so it’s at a more naturally, slightly inclined type angle. Sizing is good, my big hands weren’t a problem which is normally the case of hybrid keyboards, and it’s even backlit.

I would be a little worried about dirt and rips after a few months, but I didn’t get long enough the device to really test its mettle. However, it certainly stays connected to the tablet part of the device well enough, as demonstrated to me by the Microsoft dangling the tablet upside down by just holding onto the keyboard.




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