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Is it our technological destiny to want both a tablet and a laptop forever, or can advances in hardware and software, combined with intelligent design, actually unify our professional and personal lives within one screen? Microsoft made its stance on the matter abundantly clear with the launch of the original Surface in the summer of 2012.

Two years later, the third iteration of the Surface is a marvel of engineering honed by experience and proving more than ever that Microsoft’s vision for the future of computing is as real as it gets. Here’s a rundown of the key innovations that make new Surface Pro 3 both a powerful Intel Core laptop and an easy-to-use tablet.

Full Friction Kickstand

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Rather than ask owners to choose between one or two levels of recline as found on older models, the Surface Pro 3’s “full friction” hinge lets users smoothly transition between any angle position from 22 to 150 degrees, making it ergonomically sound on laps, desks and anywhere in between.

A Better Body Image

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A new silver magnesium form factor that measures a mere 9.1mm thick means the Surface Pro 3 is the thinnest Intel Core product ever made and well in line with today’s ultra-thin devices. To achieve this feat Microsoft custom designed over 100 unique parts, including an ultra-efficient fan to keep things cool.

With a weight of 800 grams, it’s also far less of a burden than other laptop/tablet combinations. A list of integrated ports that include USB 3.0, a Mini DisplayPort, a headset jack and a microSD card are a nod to the Surface Pro 3’s capabilities as a fully functional laptop.

Sweet Screen

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The bigger 12-inch screen of the Surface Pro 3 provides a spacious viewing experience compared to the 10.6-inch versions found on older Surfaces — or most other popular tablets, for that matter. Its new 3:2 aspect ratio also makes using the Surface Pro 3 far more natural, particularly in portrait mode, an area where the older model’s 16:9 aspect ratio felt admittedly clunky. A pixel-packed 2160 x 1440 resolution tops it all off, producing sharp, vibrant images from nearly every viewing angle.

Key Improvements

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Switching from tablet to laptop mode on the Surface line has always required the use of a special Touch or Type Cover accessory. The revised Type Cover for the Surface Pro 3 features a vastly improved a trackpad that’s 68 percent bigger. Best of all, an integrated strip of magnets just inside the Surface Pro 3’s screen allows the cover to “fold up” and attach firmly to the bezel, making the keyboard rigid for use on awkward surfaces like your lap — solving one of the biggest usability grips of earlier Surface models in the process.

A Mightier Pen

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While there’s no longer an integrated slot for the companion pen accessory on the outside of the tablet (that’s been moved to the Type Cover), Microsoft has made working with the stylus more intuitive than ever. Clicking the button on the top of the pin once will immediately open the OneNote application, even when the Surface Pro 3 is asleep. Click the button again when you’re done taking a note to have it automatically sync to the cloud. Web content is just as easily swallowed into OneNote via a tap with the stylus.

Thanks to this laundry list of updates and a top notch spec sheet that can include up to 512GB of storage, 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core 7i processor, it’s easy to see why the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 makes the best case yet as the tablet to replace your laptop.

Check it out for yourself at your local Best Buy and pick up their exclusive blue Type Cover while you’re at it.

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