It's a tablet, a laptop and now a desktop.
Microsoft announced today that the Surface Pro 3 docking station has arrived on store shelves in the United States and Canada. The dock is available at Microsoft stores and select retailers, including Best Buy and Staples, for $199.99.
First unveiled alongside the Surface Pro 3 in May, the dock completes the tablet's transformation from a touch-enabled computing slate and a laptop (with the optional Type Cover) to a full-fledged desktop, according to the company.
"As you probably already know, Surface Pro 3 is an incredibly powerful tablet that was designed to replace your laptop," said Microsoft Surface senior product manager Suneel Goud in an Aug. 15 blog post. Not stopping at laptops, the company is now taking aim at desktop PCs.
Goud added, "When you pair it with a Docking Station, it really puts Surface Pro 3 in a league of its own because it also allows this powerful tablet to replace your desktop PC."
Since its debut, Microsoft has been pitting the tablet against laptops like the svelte MacBook Air. At a New York press event, Panos Panay, head of the Surface division, drew several comparisons between Apple's popular laptop with the thinner, lighter and touch-enabled Surface Pro 3.
In the throes of the back-to-school season, the company is once again singling out the MacBook Air in a new television ad. A new 30-second spot showcases Surface features that Apple's laptop lacks, including a touch-screen and pen input.
Now, asserts Microsoft, the Surface Pro 3 is ready for desktop duty.
The Surface Pro 3 docking station features three USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. "As an added bonus, the USB 3.0 port on the Surface Pro 3 is still available for use when it is docked, so in reality you'll have a total of 6 available USB ports when your Surface is docked," said Goud.
The dock also includes a Gigabit Ethernet port for wired network connectivity and a mini DisplayPort for external monitors. And users will find no shortage of screen real estate, according to Goud.
"In fact, with the new Surface Pro 3 Docking Station, you’ll be able to run up to 3 screens (the Surface itself, and 2 external monitors) regardless of whether you have the latest daisy-chain capable DisplayPort monitors, HDMI inputs, or older analog screens (e.g. VGA or DVI)," he boasted in a separate July 21 blog post. A 3.5mm audio jack rounds out the peripheral's connections.
The device has enough power on tap to charge other USB-powered gadgets, said a Microsoft spokesperson. "And with a 48W charging system, you can work and run or charge your favorite accessories and still have ample power to charge Surface Pro 3," said the company representative in an email to eWEEK.
"Anyone looking for an accessory that essentially turns Surface Pro 3 into a three-in-one—tablet, laptop and desktop—will find Surface Pro 3 Docking Station the perfect option for them," added the spokesperson.