Surface Pro 3 Aims to Replace Laptops: 12-inch Screen, 9.1mm thin

Microsoft wants to replace your laptop with the new Surface Pro 3, which sports a large 12-inch display yet is only 9.1 mm thin. The Surface Pro 3 is also light given its bigger canvas, weighing 1.8 pounds. Other upgrades include a much improved Type Cover with a more lap-friendly typing experience and a pen that lets you start taking notes with a click. The Surface Pro 3 starts at $799.

The display itself is quite sharp, hitting 2160 x 1440 pixels. That gives you 6 percent more content than the 13-inch MacBook Air in a smaller and lighter design. The kickstand and hinge on the Surface Pro 3 have also been improved, which includes a new canvas mode for pen or lap use. The hinge can fold 150 degrees.

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Microsoft says that its has reinvented the fan on the Surface, making it 30 percent more efficient. This allows to keep the system quiet and cool even though it has a blazing Core i7 CPU under the hood. Microsoft also squeezed in a bigger battery.

The new Type Cover for the Surface Pro 3 is even thinner, and Microsoft says that it has worked to improve the trackpad. It's 68 percent larger than before and suffers from much less friction. You can now click in the cover to the screen, which helps stabilize the device when typing in your lap.

You'll find a USB 3 port on the Surface Pro 3 and support for 4K external displays. Microsoft is also touting pen support, which can be used for taking notes or making fine touches in Photoshop. Better palm rejection will certainly help. 

The pen that comes with the Surface is weighty and is designed to feel like a real pen. We really like that you get start writing notes just by clicking the top of the pen, which saves time. This action fires up OneNote. When you click your pen again, your notes go to the cloud, though we're not sure why that wouldn't happen automatically. This nifty pen click action can also be used to capture webpages and then start annotating them.

The Surface Pro 3's pen can be used not just for taking notes but also for apps like The New York Times crossword. The app attempts to combine pen and touch in a natural way. You can cross out clues as you solve the puzzle, and it automatically translates your scribbles to text.

Microsoft also showed off the Final Draft app, which shows off the lack of latency in the pen experience. You can write your thoughts, and your notes sync to the cloud in OneDrive, allowing the other viewer to see your scribbles and edits.

The Surface Pro 3 starts at $799 for the Core i3 version with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. A Core i5 version with 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM costs $999,  a Core i5 with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM costs $1,299, a Core i7 with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM will run you $1,549 and a Core i7 with 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM tops out the group at $1,949.

Microsoft also sells a variety of accessories for the Surface Pro 3. The Surface Pro Type Cover will cost $129.99 while the docking station will go for $199.99 and extra pens will run you $49.99 each.

Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.