Nearly two months to the day after first revealing the Surface Pro 3 tablet, Microsoft has officially put its $200 docking station up for pre-order, after teasing would-be buyers with a limited-availability window last month.
Microsoft designed the Surface Pro 3 to be a replacement for both laptops and tablets. The company engineered the device to mix a sleek, 0.35-inch frame (sans Type Cover) with laptop-grade Intel Core processors, all the way up to a hulking Core i7 chip.
The docking station helps the Surface Pro 3 become a true all-in-one device. Adding desktop-like capabilities to the tablet’s arsenal are a trio of USB 3.0 and a pair of 2.0 ports, Gigabit ethernet, and a 3.5mm audio connection. You get a Mini-DisplayPort connection to output your display to one or more external monitors. (The Surface Blog post announcing the docking station’s availability has a solid rundown of how to daisy-chain multiple monitors using the SP3.) The Surface Pro 3 dock also includes a security lock slot, a feature missing from the original Surface Pro/Surface Pro 2 dock.
Don’t try using the SP3 with an older Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 docking station. Those tablets are much thicker than their successor, rendering the Surface Pro 3 incompatible with that older hardware.
While the idea of a truly portable, use-case-agnostic device is appealing, be sure to count your pennies before you rush out to buy a Surface Pro 3. Pricing for the slate starts at $800 for a Core i3 model, but the Core i5 model with 128GB of storage that’s most likely to appeal to many buyers will set you back $1000. Add in the cost of the must-have $130 Type Cover and this $200 docking station, and you’re suddenly staring at a $1330 cumulative purchase, before you start buying additional accessories like power adapters or mice and monitors to go with the dock.
The Surface Pro 3 docking station is expected to ship August 15, shortly after the August 1 release date of the Core i3 and Core i7 versions of the tablet. A Core i5-powered variant is available now. You can see a comparison of the various configurations in our deep-dive into the Surface Pro 3’s stats.
Brad Chacos spends his days digging through desktop PCs and tweeting too much. He specializes in graphics cards and gaming, but covers everything from security to Windows tips and all manner of PC hardware.