I have been a long-time Mac fan but after using Microsoft's Surface Pro, the latest model being the Surface Pro 3, I must say that I can live with a Surface Pro 3 tablet, notwithstanding some annoying aspects of Microsoft's Windows 8 OS. I actually enjoyed using the tablet, which in my view showed how Microsoft has adapted successfully to user needs in more ways than one.
For a start, the 12inch super sharp display (2160x1440) on a silver magnesium casing impresses at first glance. It is 0.36inches thick and weighs about 800g. Not exactly the thinnest or lightest in the market but Microsoft is slowly getting there. Surface Pro 3 is powered by Intel i3/i5/i7 processors and come in different configurations - 4 or 8GB RAM and storage options from 64GB to 512GB. OS is Windows 8.1, which is significantly better than version 8.0.
Unlike the iPad or Android tablets, the number of ports available are equivalent to those found on ultrabooks - USB, microSD, mini display port. Other features include a built-in kickstand with multiple positions, 2 x 1080p HD cameras (front and back) and a fairly long-lasting battery (up to nine hours).
Unlike other tablets, Microsoft has provided two very good keyboard cover options (touch and type) in addition to the on-screen keyboard. They attach themselves magnetically to the Surface Pro and are truly fitting add-ons to the tablet. The kickstand works very well too with ergonomically designed positions to place the Surface Pro in the optimal viewing posture. But what is most useful is the Surface Pen which when used with the included OneNote software turns the Surface Pro into a responsive sketching tablet. One can write notes or doodle and everything will be recorded, like on a piece of paper.
To add full functionality, Microsoft Office is included as part of the package. All the extras and the features found on the Surface Pro 3 make it in effect more a laptop than a tablet as no other tablet (iOS or Android) offer similar features. Microsoft has tailored the Surface Pro 3 to cater to the needs of different groups of users, at different price points. This is smart although I do think the price of the lowest configuration (i3 and 64GB storage) should match those of its rivals. Right now, it is on the high side and may well discourage potential buyers.
The Surface Pro 3 is a fast and responsive machine. And it is definitely much more than a tablet. Laptop users would do well to consider substituting their device for something that is both a laptop as well as a tablet.
Surface Pro 3
Intel® Core™ i3, 64 GB and 4 GB of RAM: $1,108
Intel® Core™ i5, 128 GB and 4 GB of RAM: $1,348
Intel® Core™ i5, 256 GB and 8 GB of RAM: $1,728
Intel® Core™ i7, 256 GB and 8 GB of RAM: $2,138
Intel® Core™ i7, 512 GB and 8 GB of RAM: $2,698
Surface Pro Type Cover: $183
Additional Surface Pen: $73
Additional 36W Power Supply: $108
Additional Pen Loop: $8
Docking Station for Surface Pro 3: $288
Surface Ethernet Adapter: $58
Students from certified MOE institutions will receive a 10% discount on Surface devices and accessories through the Microsoft Online Store (http://www.microsoftstore.com/mssg/en-sg/store/student).