Live from Microsoft’s Surface event

Microsoft Surface event 2014

Is it time for a new small Surface Mini tablet? We’ll find out if there is and if so: Can Microsoft successfully compete in this space with its hardware partners? I’m not sold on that unless such a product is aggressively priced and offers something extra not found in small Windows tablets from Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, Asus, Acer and others.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:06:33 am

At this point, they’re wrapping up so there’s no Surface Mini. Looks like Pro 3 was the star of the show. I can already see how much improved it is but I still have questions. Will PC users buy Surface Pro 3? How is the tablet experience with the new larger (but thinner and lighter) design? 

Hopefully, I’ll have answers to those questions in the coming week. Thanks for following along! :)

Kevin C. Tofel 9:05:00 am

Panos says we’ll get loaner devices today on the way out so I’ll take a quick look and share thoughts this afternoon with a full review to follow. 

Kevin C. Tofel 9:04:17 am

Surface Pro 3 goes on sale tomorrow starting at $799 (good guess!) with a Core i3. Optional i5 and i7 configurations too.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:03:45 am

That double-click pen feature works on web pages too: You can use it to capture text in IE and it’s sent to OneNote.

Kevin C. Tofel 9:01:00 am

Kevin C. Tofel 9:00:06 am

Panos just double-clicked the pen and the Pro 3 took a photo. Now he’s writing notes on the photo in OneNote where it magically appeared. 

Kevin C. Tofel 8:59:13 am

This part of the demo really exemplifies Nadella’s mantra of “Cloud first. Mobile first.” 

Kevin C. Tofel 8:58:15 am

Clicking the pen after writing sends notes to the cloud, which get pushed to OneNote on all devices. 

Kevin C. Tofel 8:57:38 am

Nice demo of how clicking the pen wakes Surface Pro 3. The device opened right up to OneNote. Very nice!

Kevin C. Tofel 8:56:40 am

OneNote, Windows, One Drive, Office are all brought together with Surface Pro 3 and the stylus, says Panos. “With paper and pen, writing feels personal.”

Kevin C. Tofel 8:54:18 am

With the side by side movie/script demo, Panos took a shot at the iPad without actually saying iPad. Clever.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:53:39 am

Panos says the front facing speakers are 40 percent louder than the prior model. We’re about to get a preview of that with a movie running alongside an edited script with digital notes. The sound is loud, even though I’m 30 feet away. And again: that screen! Looks super nice.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:48:40 am

Panos is showing off the NYT crossword puzzle app on the tablet with a pen. It looks fantastic on that display and with Panos’ handwriting, which is then digitally changed to the in-app font.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:47:14 am

See how the Surface Pro 3 is the same size and aspect ratio as a notepad? Hint: not a coincidence.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:46:39 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:45:37 am

We’re moving on to what sounds like note-taking with a digital pen.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:44:36 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:43:41 am

The Type Cover has a better hinge as well for more stability. It now attaches to the screen, not the side of the tablet. The experience is more like that of a laptop, says Panos.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:42:23 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:41:12 am

On to the Type Cover, which is actually quite a good product. The new version has an improved trackpad (which is needed). 68 percent larger. 78 percent less friction.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:40:06 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:39:28 am

With the new stand, Panos says Surface Pro 3 has “lapability”.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:38:46 am

Time to highlight the updated kickstand. Surface Pro 3 stand starts at 22 degrees just like the original but can pushed down to 150 degrees.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:36:33 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:34:45 am

We’re getting a little Photoshop pep talk now which should be great on this combination of chip and screen. Adobe CC is now optimized for touch. Good timing!

Kevin C. Tofel 8:33:47 am

So far, I like what I see but let’s be honest: This is a revised product that already exists. A nice product, yes. I’m still wondering: How much. Guessing a loaded Surface Pro 3 will be north of $1,800. I’ll figure a starting price at or just below the current Surface Pro 2 prices, i.e.: around $800.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:32:32 am

Panos is showing off Surface Pro 3 in the dock as a desktop replacement. Works with the mouse, keyboard, touch and pen. 

Kevin C. Tofel 8:30:47 am

Now we get to see accessories: First up is a docking station. Similar to the old design. Can output to a 4K monitor. 

Kevin C. Tofel 8:29:28 am

From my seat, which is a good 30 feet away, the screen looks incredible.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:28:58 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:28:35 am

It’s clear to me that Microsoft took advantage of the Surface Pro 2 design and spent a ton of time re-designing and improving. Maybe this is what the Pro 2 should have been?

Kevin C. Tofel 8:27:35 am

There’s a large fan in the center of the mother board but you won’t feel the air, says Panos. Nor will you hear it.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:26:20 am

Microsoft spent “tireless hours” with Intel to get a Core i7 inside this. 10% more performance than the Surface Pro 2.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:25:53 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:25:00 am

And now we have the scale in use. Apple’s MacBook Air is heavier. 

Kevin C. Tofel 8:24:41 am

So this is sounding like a true “Pro” version with the larger, higher resolution display. Cost will be interesting….

Kevin C. Tofel 8:23:51 am

The Pro 3 isn’t heavier even though it has the larger display. 800 grams in weight.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:22:20 am

Interesting: The Windows button on the display is to the right, not below the screen. Oh, the screen is 12-inches diagonally and a 3:2 ratio. 2160 x 1440 resolution.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:21:49 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:21:38 am

This is the thinnest Intel Core product and is faster than Surface Pro 2.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:21:11 am

9.1 millimeters thin, down from 10.6 millimeters.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:20:12 am

It looks like the current Surface Pro 2 but with a multi-point hinge / backstand. So I wonder how the Pro 2 users will feel after such a short hardware cycle?

Kevin C. Tofel 8:18:54 am

“Today we take the conflict away” Here’s Surface Pro 3.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:18:06 am

“You’ve been told to buy a tablet but you know you need to buy a laptop.” Panos is setting the stage for what Surface is supposed to do: be both devices. 

Kevin C. Tofel 8:17:08 am

Panos says there’s still a conflict between the tablet and computer when it comes to buying decisions. True, there is no “one size fits all” device. It depends on what you want to do with the device.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:15:18 am

It’s a valid point but nobody predicted tablets would usurp the *entire* tablet market overnight.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:14:31 am

“96% of people who own an iPad also own a laptop. And there’s a reason for that.”

Kevin C. Tofel 8:14:09 am

Panos is recounting stories from 3 years ago that the tablet would be killing the laptop. Yet, he says, few people here are actually using a tablet. 

Kevin C. Tofel 8:12:52 am

The obvious message here is that Surface tablets are blank “slates” and Windows apps give the device unlimited opportunity. I’d agree on the overall theme but there are other tablet ecosystems doing quite well for the same reason.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:11:17 am

We’re getting a Surface video now, showing the many use cases for it: digital modeling, college prep testing (with an app from Harvard, no less), and in health care.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:10:21 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:08:37 am

I get the feeling that Microsoft Surface Mini will be the end result of the company’s original UMPC / Project Origami vision from 2006.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:07:55 am

Now on stage is Panos Panay from the Surface team. 

Kevin C. Tofel 8:07:00 am

“Can we design a device that combines the best of a laptop and tablet, allows you to read, write, watch a movie and make a movie?”

Kevin C. Tofel 8:06:20 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:06:11 am

“Why hardware? We’re not building hardware for hardware’s sake. We want to build experiences. We’re not interesting in competing with our OEM’s when it comes to hardware.” Say wha’? Interesting comment there.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:03:36 am

“We want people to get more out of every moment in their life,” says Nadella.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:03:08 am

Today is all about devices and hardware: “It’s about empowering people.”

Kevin C. Tofel 8:02:46 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:02:30 am

We’re getting a recap on Microsoft’s cloud, device and mobile strategy.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:01:34 am

And here’s Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO on stage!

Kevin C. Tofel 8:00:55 am

Just noticed a small balance scale on stage. Looks like we’re going to have a tablet weigh-off!

Kevin C. Tofel 7:59:19 am

Observation: I did see one person using a Surface here.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:57:00 am

T-minues 5 minutes per the announcer. I’m going to miss this jazzy funk music when the presentation starts. Just sayin’.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:56:27 am

If the Surface Mini runs RT, it almost has to be priced at $249 or less to make a splash. $199 would be great and $149 (ha!) would be ground-breaking.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:54:49 am

Here’s what the Dell looks like. 

Kevin C. Tofel 7:54:04 am

Since we’re still waiting (and you probably got through that other post already you speed readers), here’s what I think of the Dell Venue 8-inch tablet:  TL;DR: I like it.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:51:47 am

If there is a Surface Mini today, I’ll have no choice but to compare it to the Dell Venue Pro 8 I bought for $299, which is a crazy low price for a full Windows 8.1 device with 10 hour battery life. 

Kevin C. Tofel 7:51:02 am

While we wait, I shared some early thoughts on a Surface Mini tablet last month. Go ahead and read, I’ll wait! ;)

Kevin C. Tofel 7:50:20 am

So there’s about 300 people here at the event, give or take. (I didn’t stop to count, sorry!) A cozy venue to say the least. All of the usual suspects (read: press) are here as is a CNBC truck out front. Maybe there’s bigger news than just a small tablet?


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