Microsoft just unveiled the third generation of its Surface Pro tablet on stage in New York City, making a new pitch to replace laptops with a hybrid device. Check out an initial image above, from a video shown at the event.
The Surface Pro 3 will start at $799, coming in three configurations, with Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 processors. It will be available for pre-order starting tonight, and will be released in stores on June 20 in the U.S. and Canada.
The most noticeable change, at first glance, is the position of the Windows home button on the side of the device when held horizontally, suggesting that Microsoft is making the device easier to use with a vertical orientation.
The Surface Pro 3 has a 3:2 aspect ratio, compared with a 16:9 aspect ratio for the Surface Pro 2. That makes the new tablet shorter and wider when held in portrait mode — addressing a major criticism of past Surface devices, and making the new tablets easier to use to take notes as if on a pad of paper.
Microsoft says the Surface Pro 3’s screen is 38 percent bigger than the Surface Pro 2, with a screen resolution of 2160x 1440.
Panos Panay, the executive who leads Microsoft’s Surface team, says the company worked closely with Intel to build the Surface 3 with a Core i7 processor, while still making it thin and light, at 1.76 pounds, with a 12-inch screen.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella opened the event by saying that the company is aiming to give users the best of laptops and tablets in a single device. He referenced a famous quote by Apple’s Tim Cook about the compromises that often come along with combining those different form factors.
“We clearly are not interested in building refrigerator and toasters,” said Nadella. “We want to build experiences that bring together all the capabilities of our company” to focus on mobile-first productivity scenarios.
During the demo, Adobe took the stage to demonstrate a new version of Photoshop CC optimized for touch on the Surface Pro 3.
The new Surface Pro 3 “continuous kickstand” has a full friction hinge that provides more positions for users, including a new Canvas Mode that takes it down to 150 degrees, shown below.
Here’s a Microsoft image showing off the different positions.
— Microsoft Surface (@surface) May 20, 2014
The new Type Cover keyboard for the Surface 3 can be tucked up to click into the screen, as shown in the image below. Combined with the new kickstand, it’s part of a broader effort by Microsoft to make the device more stable in the lap.
Panay is now showing the new Surface 3 pen, saying that the company wants to rival the traditional pen and paper. One of the features — the ability to click the pen to open OneNote instantly, and wirelessly.
Here’s a Vine video showing how the pen feature works.