You know the one. It’s Microsoft’s new and expensive Windows notebook which doesn’t come with a keyboard but also doubles as the world’s largest tablet because, well, you know. No keyboard. Why isn’t it a notebook with a removable screen?
It’s The Keyboard, Stupid
At this point I hope you understand my perspective (think ‘facetious’) on what Microsoft is doing to get back into the mobile device space dominated by Apple, Samsung and Google.
The Surface Pro 3 is heralded as a lighter-than-light notebook and Microsoft compares it directly to Apple’s highly popular MacBook Pro, a notably larger and more powerful device.
Alright, so where’s the keyboard? That’s not included with the new Surface Pro 3– it’s a $130 add-on accessory.
If there’s no keyboard then is it really a notebook? Or, is it missing a keyboard to get the entry level advertised price down low enough to compare to a MacBook, which, by the way comes with a keyboard and an Intel i5 CPU, which the Surface does not (extra cost option).
A Surface Pro 3 with a notebook and a keyboard, and equipped like Apple’s entry-level MacBook Air, brings the price to $1,128, $229 more than a MacBook Air, but barely $70 less than a MacBook Pro, which comes with an old style disk drive (not SSD as in the MacBook Air and the Surface Pro 3).
So, Microsoft wasn’t comparing Apples to apples, but instead went for a comparison of Apples to lemons.
Why. The. Keyboard?
Back to what every notebook computer has, but what Microsoft thinks every tablet should have. A keyboard. That explains the growing number of Windows-powered notebooks which have a removable touch screen.
Is it a tablet with a keyboard? Or, is it a notebook with a removable screen?
Apple’s iPad Air can be married to the new Logitech Ultra-thin Bluetooth keyboard which connects to the iPad much the way a keyboard fits and connects to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3. That brings the iPad Air’s weight up to just under two pounds, and thickness just slightly more than the Surface Pro 3. Thicker, but lighter.
Without the keyboard, the Surface Pro 3 weighs half a pound less than the entry-level MacBook Air. Add the keyboard and not only is the Surface Pro much larger than the MacBook Air, but now it’s heavier, too.
Microsoft’s strategy here is crystal clear. It’s doubling down on the tablet-notebook-hybrid device, but playing games with product comparisons and pricing. There are plenty of people who want a Windows notebook with a removable keyboard. But in this case the keyboard is added to make it a notebook.
The specifications are impressive if you add up the pieces, but the Surface Pro 3 as sold without a keyboard is a tablet, right? As a tablet, it’s thicker, heavier, and larger than the iPad Air. But it runs Windows so it’s more capable, at least in the sense of a notebook.
Windows tablets haven’t exactly set the world on fire and this one won’t either.