Preorders open, but most Surface Pro 3 models won't ship until almost September

Surface Pro 3

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When Microsoft's Panos Panay announced Tuesday that customers would be able to preorder the new Surface Pro 3 tablet at midnight Wednesday, the implication was that they would be shipping soon. It turns out that's not the case.

Instead, Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 order page reveals that most models will actually begin shipping on August 31, in some cases missing the beginning of classes at some major universities—at UC Berkeley, for example, classes begin. Aug. 28. However, if you're interested in the midrange Surface Pro 3 powered by an Intel Core i5, good news: Microsoft says you'll have them in a month.

Microsoft announced the next-generation Surface Pro 3 tablet on Tuesday in New York City, complete with a new docking station, whose price has yet to be announced. The specs page reveals some features of the Surface Pro 3 that were either downplayed or not really mentioned: the tablet boasts a 5 -megapixel camera on both sides of the tablet, undoubtedly improving the quality of Skype calls; wireless uses the new 802.11ac standard, and users can also connect via wired, Gigabit Ethernet.

Microsoft's preorder page also reveals the prices for each configuration, which we laid out in our deep dive into the Surface Pro 3 specifications on Tuesday. To recap:

  • Intel Core i3, 64 GB storage and 4 GB of RAM—$799
  • Intel Core i5, 128 GB storage and 4 GB of RAM—$999
  • Intel Core i5, 256 GB storage and 8 GB of RAM—$1,299
  • Intel Core i7, 256 GB storage and 8 GB of RAM—$1,549
  • Intel Core i7, 512 GB storage and 8 GB of RAM—$1,949

According to Microsoft, the Core i3 and both Core i7 models will ship on August 31, while the Core i5 models will ship on June 20.

Our first impressions of Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 were positive; that the slimmer, lighter tablet could house a Core i7 speaks volumes about Microsoft's attention to hardware design as well as its close partnership with Intel. (We'll have to see how, over time, whether the cooling system works as advertised.) But the zero-friction hinge virtually eliminates any concerns with what angle the tablet is set at, also erasing one of the chief hardware concerns about the Surface in general. All in all, the Surface Pro 3 is what Microsoft intended for the Surface lineup all along.

But what has given most potential Surface buyers pause has been the astounding price of the Surface, at least compared against Android tablets of the same dimensions. With the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has cut the entry level price by $100 versus the lowest-end Surface Pro 2. But that's small comfort to those who will have to wait an extra month just to receive it.

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