Although the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft’s tablet-laptop hybrid, was announced back in May and officially released in June, several models were not yet available at launch. As expected, Microsoft completed the Surface Pro 3 lineup on Friday, adding one model with a Intel Core i3 processor and two with high-end Intel Core i7 processors. Most importantly, the Core i3 model will be the entry level Surface Pro 3, bringing the cost of entering the ecosystem down to $799.
My colleague Kevin Tofel used the Surface Pro 3 as his daily computer for several weeks back in June and was impressed. He found it to be “perhaps the best and most powerful hybrid computer to date.” The idea behind the Surface Pro 3 is that it’s a skinny and light tablet running Windows, but can turn into a fully fledged workstation — thanks to its laptop-class processors — using a variety of add-on accessories, like the Type Cover or a $200 docking station (which is expected to be released later this month.)
I must admit though, the rollout and marketing of the Surface Pro 3 continues to confuse me. It’s a great device, but it seems like Microsoft still doesn’t quite know how to sell hardware directly to consumers. Microsoft heavily touted the $799 price point in its marketing materials and it was repeated in hundreds of blog posts back in May when the device was announced. How many frustrated customers did Microsoft lose between launch day and yesterday who discovered the least expensive Surface Pro 3 they could purchase started at $1000? That price isn’t even counting the optional $130 Type Cover, which is essentially a must-have and is prominently featured in most advertisements for the system.
We’ll see if the lower entry-level price unearths new buyers for Microsoft’s Surface tablet line, which contributed $409 million in revenue to Microsoft’s bottom line last quarter.