Can The New 12″ Microsoft Surface 3 Replace Both Your Tablet And Your Laptop?


Microsoft today introduced the Surface Pro 3 — a lightweight tablet that they want to replace both your tablet and your laptop.

With the Surface Pro line, Microsoft has been trying to convince buyers that its ‘best of both worlds’ approach to hybrid tablets makes more sense than the Apple’s approach, creating best-in-class, dedicated tablet and laptop devices. Microsoft positions the Surface Pro 3 as a tablet + laptop that’s more powerful than an iPad and lighter than an MacBook Air:

Multiple processor, RAM and storage options intersect with a sleek design that, with a simple snap or click, transform the device from a perfectly balanced tablet to a full-functioning laptop and back again – all in a beautiful package that is 30 percent thinner than an 11-inch MacBook Air.

Its stunning 12-inch display and new, continuous kickstand provide the screen real estate and multiple viewing angles people need for work and play. And the new Surface Pen – completely redesigned with form and function in mind – delivers a precise, luxurious drawing and note-taking experience with a single click of the pen.

Here’s the official intro video:

Surface Pro 3 Key Features

  • It runs Windows 8.1 Pro, which means you can run standard desktop software and also tablet applications.
  • Storage Options: 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB
  • Screen Resolution: 2160 x 1440
  • Intel Core i3/i5/i7 Processor Options
  • System memory: 4GB or 8GB memory options
  • Up to nine hours of Web-browsing battery life
  • 5MP and 1080p HD front- and rear-facing cameras
  • Full-size USB 3.0
  • microSD card reader

The Surface Pro 3 makes the best case yet for Microsoft’s hybrid tablet/laptop approach. For users that find the iPad’s screen cramped, the 12″ Surface Pro 3 may offer a compelling alternative. And the Surface Pro 3 should also offer an attractive alternative for Windows users to the MacBook Air line.

Microsoft is doubling down on the hybrid tablet/laptop approach, though, which has not proven to be especially successful with buyers.

As a tablet, the range and depth of multi-touch software available for the Surface Pro line continues to lag behind the iPad. And the 12″ size of the Surface Pro 3 makes it unwieldy for a lot of standard tablet activities.

As a laptop, the Surface Pro 3 is priced as a premium product. The $799 entry-level model offers a great screen, but not the power that the Macbook Air or ultrabooks offer. The mid-range and high-end models will be a better match for musicians’ needs, but are more expensive than similarly-powered machines.

What do you think of Microsoft’s latest take on the hybrid tablet/notebook concept? Are you interested in it as a mobile music-making device?

Pricing and Availability

Surface Pro 3 will be offered in multiple configurations, featuring 4th-generation Intel Core™ i3, i5 and i7 processors.


  • Surface Pro 3
    • Intel Core i3, 64 GB  and 4 GB of RAM    $799
    • Intel Core i5, 128 GB7 and 4 GB of RAM    $999
    • Intel Core i5, 256 GB7 and 8 GB of RAM    $1,299
    • Intel Core i7, 256 GB7 and 8 GB of RAM    $1,549
    • Intel Core i7, 512 GB7 and 8 GB of RAM    $1,949
  • Surface Pro 3 Accessories
    • Surface Pro Type Cover    $129.99
    • Additional Surface Pen    $49.99
    • Additional 36W Power Supply    $79.99
    • Additional Pen Loop    $4.99
    • Docking Station for Surface Pro 3    $199.99
    • Surface Ethernet Adapter    $39.99

Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro Type Cover and Surface Pen will be available for pre-order starting May 21 at 12:01 a.m. EDT through, Microsoft retail stores and select third-party retailers. Commercial customers should speak to their authorized reseller.

Beginning June 20 in Canada and the United States, customers can visit, Microsoft retail stores, select third-party retailers and commercial resellers to purchase Intel® Core™ i5 Surface Pro 3 and select accessories. Additional configurations will become available during August, and additional accessories will be available in the next few months.

By the end of August, Surface Pro 3 and select new accessories will become available for purchase in 26 additional markets, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

More information on Surface can be found at the Microsoft site.

55 thoughts on “Can The New 12″ Microsoft Surface 3 Replace Both Your Tablet And Your Laptop?

  1. As an Apple person who loves his iPad and Macbook pro I have to say this looks really nice. Running full blown windows apps on a 12 inch tablet sounds very appealing.

    I wonder what the audio latency is like when running a DAW?

    1. I like that Microsoft is doing something different. I’m just not sure that it makes sense to pay a $500 premium to get the big touchscreen. If there was some cost savings, it could be a no-brainer, but it’s like paying for both a tablet and a laptop and it’s hard to imaging sitting on the sofa with a giant tablet.

        1. Why would you do that? Are you having your pro monitors floating around the room? Do you produce listening to earbuds? Good for you.

    2. Microsoft hasn’t disclosed the processor options yet. For my music making it could become interesting
      only if there is quad core in the lineup as dual core hardly can provide enough juice to run for example a full blown multitrack omnisphere real-time.

    3. It’s a complete windows PC, so it really comes down to the lack of USB ports and how much activity it can handle on the amount of RAM/your processor. I run ableton live on my first gen surface pro and it works pretty well. That said, if Ableton would get touchscreen support it would be much better.

  2. As an Apple user I also think this looks pretty cool at first and I’m open to trying something different. But I can’t name one app I want to use on that platform and love my iPad and all the apps I use. So that being said despite the fact that the device has improved and looks to have potential, I can’t see myself actually pulling the trigger….. If they had this 4 years ago maybe….

    1. I have an iPad (mainly for the musical apps) but let’s be honest this seems to be an attractive computer. There are lots lots of free VST’s out there with excellent quality for example. And that docking station has lots of ports. But cheap is something else, that’s for sure.

  3. tht stand should be removed, love to use my macbook in bed use the keys and trackpad. just can’t mis that in any environment

  4. This is cool and I’ll probably pick up the i7 512. Will it replace my iPad? No why should it. Will it replace my MacBook Pro? No again. Technology does not have to be either or. Will it be my main Windows machine? Yes! The portability and power are pretty cool. I was a huge fan of the Surface Pro 2 and this will fit in nicely with my workflow. Can’t wait to run me some Fl Studio on that thing, not to mention Pro Tools, Live, Cubase, Nuendo or Reason pretty sexy Microsoft.

  5. Wasn’t there a post similar to this when the surface 2 came out? What….not cheesy rap metal band promotion with gimmicky music shit this time?

  6. 799 the cheaper?! heh, seems the only way to have control over single steps from FL Studio’s step sequencer

    been asking IL for ages to implement MIDI control over single steps from they daw’s step sequencer and then they bring……….live performance mode ¬ ¬

    1. The original surface pro runs Ableton just fine. If only Ableton would get touchscreen support going so I could ditch the mouse/stylus…

  7. this portablility is useles since you have to connect a loads of devices like external soundcards, controllers etc. even a usb-hub makes this portability pointless (considering its price).
    for simpler music making there are tons of apps for ipad

    my opinion — not worthy

    1. this is true for the ipad as well though, isn’t it ?

      The difference is that this thing can run proper programs besides apps,
      Now whether one wants to pay the premium to do so, it is another thing.

  8. after spending the last 6 months repairing pc’s with touch screens like the lenovo x1 carbon, i would wait, check out the forums, and see what problems arise. I might be wrong but thye touch screens that have been produced that size so far have been of a poor quality. but like i said, wait and watch before jumping on board

  9. I love their advertising campaign for Surface 2: ‘Honestly, it works for business’. It is like they are admitting that the first one was crap and no, really, honestly, this one works.
    So I imagine the new campaign will be ‘Really, we mean it this time’.

  10. I’m sorry but my XPS i7 8g laptop is half the price of this and still I find 17″ too small for big projects. 12″ will be a nightmare, hdmi out maybe but still far too pricey!

  11. I still think this falls into the uncanny valley that most people don’t want. It’s too heavy and expensive to be a tablet, and it’s too limited and accessory-dependant to be a full blown laptop. I think it’s a limited market that says, “I need a clunkier tablet with less apps, or a crappier laptop”.

    1. Well said. And it doesn’t excel at either so why bother. People hyped about this think its cool but I wonder what other gimmicks they are attracted to and what they are compensating for. I’m considering writing a book on this very topic.

    1. Buying a touch based machine with traditional mouse and keyboard enable software is a waist of money and counter intuitive. No music production apps are made for touch so what is the point at this point in time. Likewise for work, when I go to meetings the room is always people on the Surface Pro trying to use Office on the touch screen instead of their keyboard covers. It’s acctually a really funny sight as most people seem frastruted. They would be better off with an ultrabook and saved some money also.

      1. It’s not amazing. Deal with it. If these are so amazing why have they failed thus far. Show me someone using these and doing something cool. And I don’t mean some cheesy ass shit.

        1. I do not have to deal with the fact a lot of people will love their brand new Surface Pro 3. I am very happy with my self built PC. It fits me. Apple is in trouble. and I still love my iPad. so what?

  12. It would be perfect for people who do visual stuff as well as music. The Photoshop guys love the Surface Pros, because they can use it like a Wacom Cintiq. My only concern for music related stuff is that elicencer keys don’t normally work via a USB hub. With only one USB 3 port, you’re limited. Still, I’d love to get hold of one and say goodbye to my iPad.

    1. I use my iLok and Propellerhead Ignition key through an unpowered hub all the time, never had a problem. They might as well be glued in there, I just treat the hub like one giant dongle.

  13. Nothing says music more than a pie chart and bar graph. The pen has 256 levels of pressure, which is awesome, but again… using a pen to play a synth thats made for spreadsheets is embarrassing.

  14. Well I picked up an i5 surface pro 1 for Uni, and have been using it to host reaktor that my mpc2500 triggers. I then record the audio back into the Mpc. Works good, and I find the size very nice for Uni. I also picked it up on sale for $449 with 3yr replacement warranty.

  15. I don’t need anything to replace my anything. I’m just peachy with my laptop and my desktop computers. That’s it.

    1. Yeah man for sure. I have laptop, desktop and tablet and love them but I wouldn’t waste a cent on something I didn’t think I would get my moneys worth out of. Good call

    1. It amazes me that this colossal ignorance continues. If you’re an idiot who doesn’t know how to use a computer, you’re going to have a bad time no matter what you use. If you aren’t, you can use any OS on any decent hardware and do perfectly fine.

  16. I’d use this for sound design and tutorials on the go. Then import my sounds in to my laptop when I have a studio session at home. Use asio4all drivers. Surface for sound design and general creation on the move. Laptop for live. Desktop for full blown studio sessions. I have all and find each accel at each of these things

  17. This product has strong potential. For students, coupled with OneNote, it will allow you to take notes, annotate pdf handouts during lectures and tutorials, structure these into well organized files, then search for anything in the notes, the pdfs and the hand written annotations by keyword. The main strength of the product here is the very well implemented pen input, allowing quick and discrete notation in a classroom situation, and later (if needed) automatic translation into text. Essentially, the combination of the Surface and One Note allows you to pull all your coursework research, ebooks, lecture notes, attachments such as charts, even sound files, movie files, all into one database with a powerful search function.

    For consultants such as industrial desigers, engineers and architects, the ability to mark up drawings in pdf format rather than printing is very useful. Again, good pen implementation is critical here. Also for production of sketches and details using applications such as Autodesk Sketchbook Pro: this does most of what I can do with this software using a Wacom Cintiq connected to my laptop, in a more portable format. The list goes on, particularly for professionals needing to quickly take notes and keep them in logical order, and to be able to find keywords later: think anyone in consultancies from financial to medical, as well as academics.

    Steve Jobs was probably right about pen input in relation to content consumption devices, but definitely wrong for those needing to take notes under pressure, do creative work and integrate it with reports or other forms of data, and a wide range of other areas where only well implemented pen input will suffice. I can see myself discretely taking handwritten notes with this in meeting, where using a keyboard on a laptop for the same purpose would seriously affect the dynamics of a meeting.

    I can see the potential for this device in universities and a wide range of consultancies, as it stands, it would replace, in my work, a minute book, sketch book, laptop and ipad, and enable much better integration of my workflows.

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