Microsoft has announced the Surface Pro 3 tablet, a Windows 8.1 Pro-fuelled 12-incher it's calling “the tablet that can replace your laptop”.
The third-generation Surface comes packing a high-end spec that includes a 4th generation Intel Core processor, a minimum 4GB of RAM and up to 512GB of storage, all in a package that's slimmer than the current model despite its larger screen size.
For weeks we took Microsoft referring to yesterday's New York event as a “small gathering” in the invite as a sure-fire indication we were finally going to see the long-rumoured Surface Mini.
Yes, there was also some talk of a Surface Pro 3, but it was treated very much as a secondary consideration, with the Mini expected to be the star of the show.
Earlier yesterday, though, it emerged we were all wrong and the Surface Mini rumours were false. Instead, the New York event focused solely on the Surface Pro 3, and it looks an absolute beast of a tablet, brimming with high-end features.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3: key specs
Microsoft has kitted out its super-sized slate with a 12in ClearType display with an impressive 2160 x 1440-pixel resolution. If that sounds unusual, it's because the aspect ratio is the rarely used 3:2.
There are five configurations available, starting with an Intel Core i3 model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and going all the way up to the flagship Intel Core i7 variant that has 8GB of RAM and a massive 512GB of storage space.
Despite its screen size the Surface Pro 3 looks fairly sleek. The 9.1mm maximum thickness is 1mm down on the current Surface Pro 2 with its smaller display, and all things considered the 800g weight is pretty impressive too.
The Surface Pro 3 comes with a pen as before, but it's been reworked to “look and feel like an actual fountain pen to give you a natural writing experience” – Microsoft's words, not ours.
The integrated kickstand has also been given a makeover to add a new 150-degree “canvas mode”, while the revised Surface Pro Type Cover features a second hinge that attaches magnetically to the tablet's bezel to keep everything more stable and improve “lapability” – a word so awful it deserves to have an “s” added on the front.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3: other notable features
One click in OneNote: a single click of the Surface Pen at any point immediately fires up OneNote so you can scribble down your thoughts, which are saved automatically. Double-clicking the back of the pen takes a screenshot of whatever's on screen.
Sounds good: Microsoft says its new front-facing stereo speakers are 45% louder than the Surface Pro 2's, and with Dolby Audio-enhanced sound they should be good to listen to too.
Camera double-take: Who needs a swivelling camera? The Surface Pro 3 has identical 5MP cameras front and back, both able to capture Full HD footage.
Full size USB 3.0: you can't very well talk about replacing the laptop without providing some decent USB connectivity action. The Surface Pro 3 comes with just one USB 3.0 port itself, and the 5mm Type Cover is too skinny to have any at all, but the new Docking Station for Surface Pro 3 adds three USB 3.0 ports and a pair of USB 2.0 ports for good measure. Plus it allows you to export 4K video.
Love you long time: the Surface Pro 3 has a bigger screen running at a higher resolution than the Surface Pro 2, and a more powerful processor. But Microsoft says battery life on the new model is actually up 10%, giving you a claimed 9 hours of typical web-browsing.
Keeping cool: the downside of high performance components is that they produce a lot of heat, but rather than force hot air out of a channel like your average laptop, the fan on the Surface Pro 3 cools a series of fins placed around it, a system that's not only 30% more efficient, but also takes up far less space, allowing the device to be thinner overall.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 price and availability
If that all sounds right up your street, the bad news is that while you can pre-order the Surface Pro 3 as we speak, you'll have to wait until the end of August to get your hands on it – the kind of long lead time we're not really used to seeing any more.
But maybe it's a blessing in disguise, though, as even the cheapest Surface Pro 3 is a long way from cheap:
Surface Pro 3 with Intel Core i3 / 64GB SSD / 4GB RAM .............. £639
Surface Pro 3 with Intel Core i5 / 128GB SSD / 4GB RAM ............ £849
Surface Pro 3 with Intel Core i5 / 256GB SSD / 8GB RAM ............ £1109
Surface Pro 3 with Intel Core i7 / 256GB SSD / 8GB RAM ............ £1339
Surface Pro 3 with Intel Core i7 / 512GB SSD / 8GB RAM ............. £1649
At least shipping is free.