Microsoft just released the Surface Pro 3, the 2-in-1 device that it claims is a notebook replacement. The tablet/notebook hybrid was unveiled last month and is currently available in two different models, both of which are powered by the dual-core Intel Core i5 processor found in the Surface Pro 2.
The $999 Surface Pro 3 comes with 128GB of storage while the $1,299 model comes with 256GB. Both offerings are currently available in Microsoft’s retail stores as well as its online e-market, but only for American and Canadian customers. In addition to that, partner retailers are also selling the hybrids, including Best Buy and Tiger Direct. Microsoft has also vowed to start selling the devices in 26 additional markets, including Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom by the end of the August.
Best Buy has launched a 9-day trade-in deal that will allot customers a gift card of at least $50 in exchange for a working tablet. This gift card can be applied towards the purchase of a Surface Pro 3 and, according to Best Buy’s exchange calculator, the company is poised to allot $387 for a 128GB Surface Pro 2and $217 for a working Surface 2.
Starting on August 1 Microsoft will release other Surface Pro 3 configurations, according to the company. Microsoft had previously set the launch of these models as “sometime in August”. In six weeks the $799 Surface Pro 3 with 64GB of storage, powered by a dual-core Intel Core i3 CPU and two running a dual-core i7 processor are set to be released. The two running the dual-core i7 are a $1,599 model with 256GB of storage and a $1,949 top-of-the-line device with 513GB of storage.
Unfortunately, none of the aforementioned prices include a cover keyboard, which Microsoft mandates in order to make good on its claim that the Surface Pro 3 is a notebook replacement. What makes things a little worse is the fact that the Surface Pro Type Cover will set you back $129.99, which pushes the price of the 128GB configuration to $1,129 out-of-pocket.
To put that into perspective, these prices are 13% to 26% higher than a similar-speced MacBook Air, which is what Microsoft is constantly comparing the Surface Pro 3 to. A 13.3″ MacBook Air with 128GB of Flash storage is listed for $999 while the 11.6″ MacBook Air (which is more comparable in terms of screen size to the Surface Pro 3) with the same storage options is priced at $899.
However, early reviews from users of the Surface Pro 3 are pretty positive. Principal analyst with Technalysis Research Bob O’Donnell has stated that the Surface Pro 3 for him has been a “nice device”. O’Donnell, much like a lot of other analysts and media professionals, has had the Surface Pro 3 since the launch event back on May 20. According to O’Donnell, “I like the bigger touchpad, the bigger screen, and the aspect ratio is better. All in all, it’s a nice product.”
O’Donnell isn’t all gaga over the Surface Pro 3 and does share some imperfections with the device. O’Donnell’s biggest problem with the Surface Pro 3 is that Microsoft keeps selling the cover keyboard as an extra, especially considering that the keyboard is absolutely necessary to make the tablet into a notebook. “They should have bundled the keyboard,” O’Donnell added. “They’re trying to position it as a tablet. It’s not a tablet, it’s a notebook.”
O’Donnell has estimated that he’s used the Surface Pro 3 as a notebook 95% of the time and only 5% as a tablet. O’Donnell uses his go-to system, a Dell XPS 12 which also doubles as a tablet, in the same 95-5 ratio. “The best waqy to view and think about the Surface Pro 3 is as the evolution of the notebook. This is how notebooks are headed,” O’Donnell concluded.
Depending on how the Surface Pro 3 sells and how many keyboard covers sell along with it Microsoft could very well begin bundling the two together. Obviously it’s a smarter choice for consumers but this is a money-making industry and everyone, including Microsoft, is in it for the profits.