Can Microsoft’s new Surface tablet replace your laptop?

Microsoft says its latest Surface Pro is the ´tablet that can replace your laptop´ - we take a look

21 May 2014


Microsoft has launched the latest version of its Surface Pro device with the promise that it is "the tablet that can replace your laptop".

The Surface Pro 3 is thinner, larger and faster than its predecessor. It also gets an improved keyboard cover and stand.

At 9.1mm thick, it's the thinnest device ever to include an Intel Core processor.

Here we take a look at why Microsoft believes it can replace your laptop, as well as highlighting other key features and getting the opinion of a Stuff magazine expert.

What makes Surface Pro 3 a laptop replacement?

Surface Pro 3


Microsoft says the Surface Pro 3 delivers the performance of a fully powered laptop in a slim, lightweight tablet body.

Here are the key points behind this:

  • The Surface Pro 3 includes a fourth-generation Intel Core processor, with i3, i5 and i7 options available
  • Redesigned keyboard cover (Type Cover 3) features a slightly raised rear to make typing easier. Magnetic click-in keyboard has more stability, and bigger trackpad than Surface Pro 2 
  • It boasts a 12-inch screen - around 38% larger than the screen on the previous model
  • Storage capacity: 64 to 512 GB, RAM: 4 or 8 GB

  • It runs Windows 8.1 Pro, so you can work on Microsoft Office documents as you would on a laptop
  • Pressure-sensitive stylus pen and OneNote app make taking notes in meetings or on the sofa easy - Thicker design gives stylus a more pen-like feel  
  • It has laptop features you don't find on many tablets: USB 3.0 port, MicroSD card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, an optional docking station

What makes Surface Pro 3 a great tablet?

Surface Back View



As well as being a great laptop replacement, the Surface Pro 3 does everything you'd expect of a high-end tablet. Here are a few features that bolster the Surface's tablet appeal. 

  • Nine hours of battery life for browsing the web on the sofa or on the go - 10% better than Surface Pro 2, according to Microsoft
  • 12-inch full HD screen (2,160x1,440 resolution) and speakers with Dolby-enhanced sound for watching movies and TV. 
  •  Screen has 50% more pixels than Surface Pro 2 
  • Friction-hinge kickstand can adjust to any angle between 0 and 150 degrees, helping you work or watch movies from even a cramped train seat 
  •  9.1mm thick and weighs just 800g so can slide inside your bag when out and about
  • 'Invisible' fan prevents tablet overheating - 30% more efficient than previous solutions, according to Microsoft 

Both a laptop and a tablet?

Microsoft says that with the Surface Pro 3 people can forget about needing both a separate laptop and tablet.

Panos Panay, corporate vice president, Microsoft Surface, said people can carry just one device for college, work or a weekend on the sofa with "all the pwoer you need".  

Surface Pro 3 - what the experts say 

The Surface Pro 3 was hailed as an "interesting development" by Stephen Graves, online deputy editor at Stuff

He explained "The Surface Pro 3 is an interesting development - for the first time it feels like Microsoft's managed to create a device that's slim enough to function as a tablet while having the power to compete with laptops.

"The 'invisible' fan and vent system is particularly clever, solving the problem of overheating in a powerful tablet, while the larger screen clearly positions it as a rival to the likes of the MacBook Air; it's definitely a machine for work rather than play."

However, he did have some reservations, saying: "The Type Cover is unlikely to measure up to the dedicated keyboards found on laptops, and the kickstand/Type Cover setup is inevitably going to feel more flimsy than a standard laptop."