Last week, Microsoft showed off the newest generation of its Surface Pro line of tablets, the Surface Pro 3. The software giant promises that the new Surface tablet will finally bridge the gap between tablets like Apple’s iPad and notebook computers. The new Microsoft tablet hybrid may be something of an acquired taste, but we know of five types of users in particular that will absolutely love the Surface.
The new Surface Pro 3 packs more power than its predecessors, as well as a tweaked design and multiple improvements to some of its most distinctive features. Microsoft intends for new Surface to be the perfect combination of the productivity you get from a notebook and the portability and content consumption you’ll get from a tablet. For many, “perfect” might not be quite the right word, but what about for, say…
Looking for a lightweight device to carry with you to get some work done on the Peterson report? The new Surface is probably just what you’re looking for. Microsoft’s tablet packs the Office productivity suite that business pros have come to rely on, as well as a keyboard option that gives it far more native productivity than, say, an iPad. Apple’s tablet has its own version of Office, one Microsoft recently rolled out, but using Office on a Surface – which is essentially a tweaked PC – eliminates all possibility of compatibility issues.
Plus, there’s the keyboard. You can get a keyboard attachment for an iPad, but trust us, the new Surface tablet’s keyboard is already leagues ahead of any third-party iPad attachments.
As with previous Surface Pros, the new tablet can also run legacy Windows apps, meaning that all of those proprietary corporate programs will run on your new device. And, since it’s a PC, it’s easier to integrate with your existing corporate IT infrastructure.
And did we mention it can multitask? Like other Windows 8 devices, the new Surface allows you to do more than one thing at the same time. That’s an attractive feature for anybody, including…
Microsoft will target students with its new tablet especially, as Apple’s MacBook Air line is quite popular among that cohort. For students, the Surface Pro 3 brings a much lighter and slimmer load than comparable Ultrabooks. It lacks the all-day battery life of the iPad Air or MacBook Air, but the aforementioned native Office suite may help make up for some of that.
The keyboard and stylus, though, will be what really sets the new Surface tablet apart for students. The keyboard, of course, allows for quick paper typing and note taking in class, but the stylus can be used for note taking as well. Need to jot down that protein structure really quick? A stylus is better than your finger, no question. Bored in class and looking to distract yourself? You’re better off doodling something with the Surface stylus rather than trying to sneak in a game of Flappy Bird.
Artists and Creatives
Right here, we should just say “The new Surface tablet has an awesome stylus,” and be done with it. If you need proof, though, you can check out what Gabe, who draws the gaming comic Penny Arcade, said about the stylus implementation in Microsoft’s Surface line. Gabe went on at length, but the gist of it is this: “Sketching with the Stylus [on the Surface Pro] was awesome.”
Native stylus support is one area for artists and creatives where Microsoft’s tablet beats the iPad, hands down. Sure, Apple’s tablet has a wide range of apps where developers have created capable programs that work around the fact that there is no native stylus support, but drawing and painting on Microsoft’s Surface Pro line is a joy.
Plus, the new Surface has a bigger screen with a crazy high resolution. The tablet’s touch interface means that you can zoom in and out on your creations with a simple gesture. That also comes in handy for our next cohort of Future Surface Lovers…
We separated this group from the wider creative subset because… well… we had to get to five somehow, no? Just kidding. The Surface Pro 3 has some features that photographers in particular are going to love. First up is the aforementioned screen. The new Surface tablet has a 12-inch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. That in itself makes it good for editing photos. What’s better, though, is the Surface Pro 3’s resolution, an eyeball-melting 2160 x 1440. That’s a much clearer display than you’re going to get with a MacBook Air, and with touchscreen capability for easy navigation and zooming.
The new Surface tablet is also half a pound lighter than the MacBook Air, meaning your photo bag just got lighter.
Best of all, though, are probably the ports. The Surface Pro 3 packs a full-size USB 3.0 port, microSD card reader, and a Mini DisplayPort. That means you can charge your camera by attaching the device, download pictures from your camera’s memory card to your tablet, and show off your pictures on a larger display… all at the same time.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Adobe is going to release a special version of Photoshop tailored to touchscreen PCs. That means your workflow on the new tablet will be even faster.
Let’s be honest: gaming on tablets and smartphones generally kind of sucks. There are some standouts, but serious gamers will almost always fall back on a laptop, console, or desktop for their usual gaming fix. The Surface Pro line has been one of the few exceptions, and the latest Surface Pro tablet continues in that line.
Since Microsoft’s newest tablet runs Windows 8, there is already a massive library of games at your disposal. It’s as simple as linking your Steam account to your new tablet and going to town. Of course, since the device is as thin as it is, there are some drawbacks. It’s not going to run Crysis, of course, but smaller, less processor-intensive games should run fine, especially if you splurge and get a model with a high-end configuration. Again, we’ll point to Penny Arcade, which looked at the Surface Pro 2 last year and found that it was “an impressively capable gaming box, if you have the right expectations.”
All images via Microsoft, unless otherwise noted.