See Microsoft's new Surface Pro 3 render the humble pen obsolete

There’s a lot of reasons to be excited by the new Surface Pro 3. Microsoft have been plugging away at making a decent tablet since 2012, and with this model they might just have cracked it.

See Microsoft's new Surface Pro 3 render the humble pen obsolete

Microsoft UK’s Robert Epstein says it’s “the first device with the power of a laptop in tablet form”. We’re certainly impressed by its hefty specs: Intel Core 3 processor, 8GB of RAM, up to 512 GB of storage, 12 inch screen, 9 hours of battery life, lightweight design…

And, like an actual laptop, it’s got a USB port, micro SD reader and a keyboard. Seems to be worth the £639 (and upwards) price tag. Surface Pro 3 open on home screen(Stefan Rousseau/PA)

But that’s not why we like it. We like it because it can do this: (James Mylne/Microsoft)(James Mylne/Microsoft)

The Surface Pro 3 is being sold first and foremost as a powerful creative tool. Though they’re not quite saying it, Microsoft have basically attempted to reinvent the pen. What’s more, they may have largely succeeded.

But because no one was going to just take their word for it, they went and found a renowned ballpoint-pen artist – James Mylne – and gave him their new tablet to play around with.

They decided it would be fun to ask James to replicate some of the National Portrait Gallery’s most prized works. The portrait above is of the famous suffragette Christabel Pankhurst. James Mylne sketching Christabel Pankhurst on the Surface Pro 3James Mylne sketches Christabel Pankhurst on the Surface Pro 3. (Microsoft)

He also had a go at a rare portrait of the three Brontë sisters. Bronte Sisters portrait on Surface Pro 3(James Mylne/Microsoft) James Mylne shows Surface Pro 3 version of Bronte protrait(Stefan Rousseau/PA)

And finally, the first portrait the National Portrait Gallery ever brought into their collection – a unique contemporary portrait of William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare portrait on Surface Pro 3(James Mylne/Microsoft) William Shakespeare portrait(Books 18/Flickr)

James was only given the tablet for 10 days. He’d never even used Windows 8 before – an OS which often baffles even fairly tech-savvy users. But thanks to the Surface’s intuitive design he took the whole experience in his stride.

The artist’s verdict

James Mylne sketching on Surface Pro(Microsoft)

“You can’t makes mistakes with a pen. (The Surface Pro 3) changes your mindset a little bit. You can be more confident in the early stages, to get sketches down and get proportions and scale. You can easily erase them. Normally I wouldn’t do it that way, and that’s a bit of a change.”

James insisted the Surface hasn’t replaced the pen – it’s just a different type of pen. So like the pen was just a different type of quill then?

Either way, he found it very easy to pick up and the results speak for themselves. Plus he could check his Facebook while he worked.

Our verdict

Surface Pro profile(Microsoft)

We’re impressed. Obviously James’ artistic talent doesn’t come as standard. But what you’ve got here is a machine that seems to work equally as a Windows laptop or a limitless pad of A4 paper.

Of course, there’s plenty of cheaper options, especially if you just want to surf the web for the latest list of cats that bear a striking resemblance to Katy Perry.

Windows 8 is also a clunky drawback – as Microsoft all but admittedby announcing Windows 9 so shortly after 8′s release. Plus the bigger screen makes the Surface a little clumsier to use as a tablet than many competitors.

But if you want a truly powerful and mobile machine where you can get stuck into some serious creativity on the go – this is the one for you.

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