Bigger and Lighter Tablet Starts at $799 for a Core i3; Comes to $1,949 Fully Loaded

Microsoft made its Surface Pro tablet bigger, lighter, and cheaper today, announcing the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 at a press event in New York City. The new device starts at $799 for an Intel Core i3 model with 4 GB of RAM (compared to $899 for the previous generation) and is being positioned as a comprehensive laptop replacement.

The Surface Pro 3 screen has a 3:2 aspect ratio, rather than 16:9, and boasts a generous resolution of 2160×1440 pixels. It weighs just 800 grams, making it roughly 10 percent lighter than the previous generation Surface Pro.

At 9.1mm thick, it's still a little beefier than an iPad, but, running Windows 8.1 Pro with an optional Intel Core i7 processor under the hood, it boasts PC-like processing power. It's that combination of a handheld form factor with the capabilities of a desktop machine that has made each generation of the Surface Pro an attractive choice for use on set.

Pre-orders will be available starting at midnight tonight. The Surface Pro 3 will be available in the following configurations: Intel Core i3, 64 GB, 4 GB RAM ($799); Core i5, 128 GB, 4GB RAM ($999); Core i5, 265 GB, 8GB RAM ($1,299); Core i7, 256 GB, 8 GB RAM ($1,549); and Core i7, 512 GB, 8 GB RAM ($1,949).

This time around, Microsoft is promoting the machine's usability as a laptop device, thanks to a new form factor for the device's kickstand, which can now lock at a variety of angles, and magnetic Type Cover keyboard ($129.99). In addition, the trackpad built into the keyboard attachment has been enlarged substantially.

Adobe was on hand at the Microsoft event to show a forthcoming touchscreen-optimized version of Photoshop running on the tablet, and Microsoft highlighted real multi-tasking capabilities, with Final Draft script-writing software running in one window to allow playback of a video clip on the other side of the display. Also new is tighter integration with the Bluetooth-connected Surface Pen (one is included; each additional pen is $49.99)—click the pen and the Surface powers on and opens a new page in OneNote, where you can make notes that sync automatically with the cloud.

The Pro 3 also has a full-size USB 3 port, microSD card reader and a mini DisplayPort providing a solid array of connectivity options, and an optional gigabit Ethernet docking station ($199.99) and Ethernet adapter ($39.99) add more.