Surface Pro 3 AC connector
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Surface Pro 3's new and improved power connector makes charging a breeze

Microsoft has a lot going on in the Surface Pro 3 including a unique CPU fan three-years in the making, over 100 custom parts and a few industry leading specs to boot. We’ll be touching upon those over the next few days, but today we’ll kick off with the new AC connector.

The magnetic AC connector was introduced with the original Surface Pro and Surface RT devices. With the second generation, it remained the same largely but it had some minor improvements like stronger magnets. The Surface Pro 3 connector though is completely redesigned, so much so that your older adapters (should you have one) will not work. That’s may be bad news for a few, but the new re-worked implementation is worth it for the new ease-of-use.

Surface Pro 3 AC connector

Indeed, heading into older reviews of the Surface and 2nd generation devices, the AC connector was often criticized. Sure, it ‘clicked’ but lining it up was always more work than it was worth, especially when compared to how Apple does their mag connectors, which are often considered to be the best.

As you can see in the above images, the Surface Pro 3 has a new 36 W AC adapter, down from the 48 W that came previously with the Pro. The adapter comes with the Surface Pro 3, though you can buy an extra here in the Microsoft Store for $79. You still get the bonus USB charging port, but the connector is now a ‘fin’ that magnetically pulls itself into the Surface, requiring less monkeying around. In fact, you can avoid looking for it if you’re in the general area as the magnets will draw it in improving the process. Due to the new fin shape, there’s less surface area that you need proper position when compared to the previous adapter. That makes any lining up issues all but disappear because there’s a reduced amount of resistance.

Surface Pro 3 AC connector

Other features, like the little LED light, are still present (although it’s now an oval) and you of course have the little cord-lock as well.

Will this redesigned AC connector finally win over converts for Microsoft? It’s early to tell, but like a lot of things on the Surface Pro 3, it’s a significant improvement over the last generation and it shows Microsoft is clearly paying attention to users and their gripes. So far, we like it.

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Reader comments

Surface Pro 3's new and improved power connector makes charging a breeze

123 Comments

Because there's really no metal and the surface area is so thin (being fin shaped), I'd have to surmise that won't be an issue. There's just less "hunting" for the right spot, which is what I believe caused that to happen.

Me too, but

 

"Sure, it ‘clicked’ but lining it up was always more work than it was worth"  It may be just me, but it was worth the little bit of work to get my tablet charged back up.

For me, it just wasnt worth the effort. I kept having to buy a new surface pro every time the battery died, and then I started having to just browse on my phone because I ran through my inheritance. I hate that plug.

Absolutely love SP3!!!
Finally MS nailed it. As usual they got it right in the 3rd attempt. Glad that I've resisted SP2. With strong ,bold marketing and small adjustment in the price (10 % cheaper) will be a massive hit.
One more thing - Surface phone. Tired of fat, chunky, below par Lumia devices.

have been using 1020 since day one, now realize how annoying the boxy design is - I always put it in my right front pocket of my jean/khaki, I found all of my pants got worn at where the corner of the 1020 is! nokia please make round corder phones! 

I put mine in a belt holster and have no such problems. The squared edges make the phone very comfortable to use in landscape.

Hey Sam, could you do an article on why all the SP3's that aren't with an i5 won't ship till the end of August? I mean, I don't think that many have pre-ordered it, and delayed it that long...

I am also wondering why they might have delayed i7.
I pre-ordered one i7-256gb and I am dying. I don't know how I'm going to be able to keep myself calm until August 31. Dang it.

My gripe with the surface pro 1&2 was that it was his too bulky and small for me to ditch my laptop so I purchased a surface RT instead as a pure media consumption device. I am blown away by this new product. I was expecting a surface mini so this caught me by total surprise. I can't justify spending the bucks at the moment but that will all change in Sept when I'll give my surface or laptop to my soon to be 6th grader. I can't wait to play with this device at the Microsoft store. I want to see how the 12" screen plays out. If it does, this will be mine. 1520 & surface pro 3 will be all that I need.

I was watching a vid about the pro 3, I want to buy it for my sister she is going to college in a few months. Is it use full for her?

There are to many classes these days that have supplemental software to install, I wouldn't recommend the RT for a student.

Yeah, the Azure VM is going to be cost-prohibitive for a lot of students. But if you get creative, there's a lot you can do. Ten years ago, when I was taking a Visual Basic class, the classroom we were in had a dozen PCs, all with little 12" CRT monitors. Old junk. The other half of the room had a dozen Macs with 22" Cinema-something monitors. I wanted to use those. I set up my computer and router at home with DynDNS and a way in through my router, and I remoted into my Windows PC at home from one of those Macs, and did my Visual Basic programming on that big, beautiful Mac. Your average college student isn't going to know how to do that kind of thing, though. ;)

Don't they have some student program where you get a certain amount of Azure services for free?  I thought I read that somewhere...

Don't think so but I could be wrong. I just signed up for Dream Spark yesterday, so I'll try to remember to look.

Entirely depends on what she's doing. I am an engineering student and for my math and engineering classes, it's hands down the most useful tool in the room. There were at least 3 other people in the room with a surface, which is probably the most common single device bar macbooks which are also common in school. For reference, I took differential equations, some circuit theory and system design classes, and data structures (comp sci). I used the surface to take notes in basically all of them - writing with the pen and having the electronic notes is awesome. The only thing was the almost frictionless surface from writing, but even that is supposed to be addressed here.

Absolutely. I almost want to go back to college just because of what the lucky students have access to these days. I remember carrying around my 9 pound Pentium 4 laptop that sounded like an airplane taking flight. And "syncing" files between different computers meant using a USB thumb drive. Having a 1.7 pound device that I could write notes to, create documents, and access them from any device in the world would have blown my mind away. Damn lucky kids.

I am excited but it seems they are firing these devices out too fast. The pro came out in 2013 and we haven't even gotten to the one year mark of the pro 2 and we already have a pro 3

I kind of see that, but I think it's an odd complaint about technology. People used to complain that there wasn't enough iteration (or MS was too slow), now there's too much. I mean, I get how it can be frustrating as a consumer, but this is the way of the world in 2014. Look at smartphones...there used to be yearly or 18 month gaps in major releases, now it's 6-8 months.

Yeah, like Nokia release the 929 Icon late 2013 and then rerelease 6 month later as the 930 ;-)

Sorry couldn't resist.

In my opinion it's great that Microsoft step it up, they need to release at least every quarter. Maybe not a new genration but they could have the fullgrown surface family release at springand autun and a surface mini family relase at summer and winter.

Huh? The Surfaces were announced on June 18th, 2012. That's almost exactly 2 years ago. Actually, since these don't even ship for a month, it'll be just over two years.

Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 were announced in September, available in October. It was a short release cycle. Then again, the Surface Pro 2 is still it's own device at 10.6 inches.

"Then again, the Surface Pro 2 is still it's own device at 10.6 inches."

For how long though?  Microsoft has scrubbed nearly all references of Surface Pro 2 from Surface.com.

It's also been buried on MicrosoftStore.com unless you do a search.  The 10.6" Intel form factor seems not long for this world.

Scrubbed nearly all references? It's right there on the front page, you can easily get to it, its jsut not a "promoted" item because something new came out. It's right there in the Products list as easy to find as anything.

Too fast? If the devices keep improving the way the have I'm all for it. This is a mind blowing device, IMO.

Yah but it creates some anxiety when purchasing one when the next best one may only be six months away.

When your coming from behind, you should release new versions as fast as you can. That's MS's mindset now and I like it. They are in turbo mode. Lets face it, not that many people bought surfaces up to this point. So it would be crazy to hold off on a new release to avoid offending a small subset of the market. Besides, pro 3, due to screen size, is really almost a different device category from pro 2. And lets keep in mind the internals (CPU, graphics, ram, etc...) are almost the same. So pro 2 owners really shouldn't feel that bad.

With all the improvements looks like Surface Pro 2 was shipped to buy them time. Love all the improvments made in such a short time.  

Outstanding! :) Micorsoft is rebranding themselves as the company, as we are seeing more and more and not jsut from micosoft sites but from apple fan boys. Its great reading on the apple forums stikign up for the surface pro 3 and windows phone. This is goging to pay off in the battle of the ecosystems in the future, if micosoft continues with this approach will surely pay off.

What's the amperage on the USB port?  Still 1.0A like the Pro 2 charger?  And I assume just a standard AC plug?  The Microsoft Store claims in the specs that it "has folding AC prongs" but the picture they have posted there doesn't show that.

The one that came with the Surface RT (1) was sometimes a hassle which was solved with the connector that came with the Surface 2. As far as I'm concerned. More rounded and a changed led. Good to see MS saw that they could improve even further.

I was hoping for an improved charging tech that would have allowed me to use a regular micro USB cable for my phone and surface 3. Oh well.

Why is there still no dock for users who want to use a real keyboard, multiple monitors, and a mouse when sitting at their desk? Sure this thing will rock when used on the go but still will be a deal breaker for me that I cannot dock it at the office like I can my Dell laptop. Yes I have seen the USB docks but having to deal with plugging that in daily after first figuring out top and bottom of the USB and also connecting the seperate power is a a terrible solution. Also I don't want to deal with looking at cable clutter. Give me a dock that I can just park this thing in a way where I could even use it as a third monitor and I will buy one today. I could then grab it and go to meetings and such and that would spell the end of laptops for me. Until then I will continue to sit on the sideline and patiently wait. That said, this thing looks damn good. Well done Microsoft. Why anyone would want an iPad now which is essentially a big iPhone without the phone is beyond my comprehension.

Unless I'm misunderstanding what you're saying, there IS a dock available for SP3. It's going to be $199, I believe (unsure of availability).

Ah I must have missed it. I looked on the M website and they dont mention it in the accesories. Thanks for the heads up.

"still"? there is a dock available for Pro and Pro2  Plus the Pro 3 dock was already announced and shown working at the press conference

I'm saying it's better. Too early to tell (and I'm just one person) if others will find it a big improvement, or if it can still be even better.

My wife says I can't have one unless I can get it free. Who wants to fund a kickstarter for me? If I get a positive response here, I'll set one up.
;-)

but it's expensive :)
it would be easier to get the money from her wife's account, buy SP3 and hide it, just like porn magazine or weed.

No. Been there twice due to cheating wives. Now I have the best wife in the world. She's stuck with me.:smile:

Create a kickstarter campaign.

"Need funds for a Surface Pro 3 so my wife doesn't kick me out".

The wording can be sufficiently ambiguous like that so people don't know that you're doing it because she won't let you have it but instead will leave you if you don't buy one, more sympathy that way. However, you technically aren't lying, because you want the SP3 anyway, so will likely buy it, in which case you get the boot, so yeah.

I'm a problem solver.

Honestly I don't know what to make of this. For me it's as if they made better one of the worst parts of the Surface, the power connector. It still looks like the same magnetic connector which I've always hated. Why not just a standard USB style power connector? It looks more like a design decision than a functional one.

Nah, if you kick this out with your foot, it won't break anything. That's why Apple make's em and it's a pretty big deal these days when at Starbucks. It's considered elegant where as barrel/prong connectors are ungainly and more prone to breaking (power buttons and plugs are highly prone to failure). I'm not sure what a 'USB style power connector' means when talking about a Core device, that doesn't supply enough power at all.

I really like the surface 2 one. I'm afraid the fin might break. This one sounds like a downgrade to me but ill reserve judgment until I try it.

You can't break this fin off. It's thick at the base and thinner at the top like a triangle, which is one of the most sturdy designs you can make. It's also only about 1/2 inch, and does not have enough surface area to snap.

Consumer electronic devices are not built to last. They are build to break after the 1/2/3 yr warranty expires. Check the USB3 micro A-receptor. Its very wide but in parallel its very very slim. even too slim for being a durable connector. A friend of mine just took a malfunctioning external portable 1TB HDD to me, because it stopped working. I plugged in the cable, and indeed it wasnt spinning up. I tried to move the cable at the attachment point, as I noticed the receptor was very slightly moving when I applied the force to connect the cable. Bingo, it was spinning up. As soon as I slightly moved my hand away from the receptor, it disconnected the power again, and the drive stopped. Obviously electrical contact issue. And thats a fairly new techology!

My 4th gen Ipod shuffle started to have issues when I tried to charge it recently. As you know, the charger cable for this ipod on 1 side has a normal USB plug, but on the other is a special jack plug. You have to plug this into the same hole as your earphone would go, it provides the power to the ipod. However the metal contacts inside the ipod's hole are so tiny, that the smallest amount of dust can form some kind of insulator layer between it and the charger cable. It wouldnt have hurt the apple "coolness design" if they had put a slightly larger metal contact in the hole, but hell, they didnt. Whatfor? Buy a new one, as due to the compact size, nothing on that junk is repairable. Actually, the electronic industry hardly repairs anything, they just ship all the waste to the coasts of Africa.

What I wanted to say as a summary: if something doesnt look durable (especially consumer grade connectors and cables), they wont last for long.

I wonder what will Microsoft do regarding the EUs new laws regarding standard charging cables. I hate these proprietary charging cables.

Standard for what devices exactly? I can't imagine that they would require a 7-inch tablet and that 18-inch Alienware to have the same charging cable.

As far as I understood it would mean a standard cable for phones and a standard cable for tablets. Also, I think it's the type of connector that is standard (for example, being done through a microUSB port.)

I was thinking this initially as well, but Daniel addressed it above. It's an I core device, USB simply wouldn't cut it and would not provide enough power to sufficiently charge the device in a reasonable time. It's more akin to a laptop, which they all still have varying connectors depending on the specifications of the laptop (as some require different volterages and amperages).

The charging connector laws are only for smartphones, which all Windows Phones already use (Micro USB) It's only the dreaded iPhone that has to be special.

I hope that when Micro USB 3 (Reversable) the EU update the law for the new connector)

It's not a terrible idea, much the same as a company selling refurb models along with their new stock, if it gets the devices into people's hands that's a win, and after they've got the cheaper one and are engrained in the ecosystem/design/whatever, they'll be more inclined to upgrade to the next device (current or future).

That being said, it'd likely be something that retailers would be more inclined to do rather than microsoft themselves, although I still don't think it's a bad idea if MS did.

Not really sure what sort of places in the US offer "trade in" options, or who would do it for the Surface given the low number of devices out there (relative).

that port is not only for charging. take a look at all the pins in the port that remain unused by the pins on the fin. then take a look at the video from yesterday again when the pro 3 is in the dock. the dock doesnt reach the display port and usb port. they are still exposed. everything is being done through this one port- charging, mimicking multiple usbs, 4k video out, ethernet.

Really? In a tablet/hybrid?

Not many tablets or hybrids with 1TB option for storage (not aware of any actually, but haven't looked much either)

I've got 16TB in my server at home but don't complain about the 32GB in my Surface RT or 64GB in my MBA. Tablets and hybrids aren't meant to be storage devices like a desktop or external drive.

If you need the extra space, throw in a microSD or dock it when you get home, don't store your lifes work and photos on a tablet that somebody could just walk off with.

I would say that from my experience, most of the laptops that do have the 1tb storage are your 15+ inchers that are relatively cheap and a lot of those are used by people that will never move it from its place on the desk.

So in those cases they sit at home and never move so they are used for storage. Not what I would recommend, but that is what seems to be fairly common.

Those are generally a slower 5400RPM 2.5in 1TB drive that would not be good to put into a tablet or device that is going to be on the go a lot. You want the SSD for no moving parts, speed, less heat and less power requirements.

Is it possible to use an Xbox one controller with the SP3 for gaming? How about navigation, like the 360 controller w/ xpadder? Wired or wireless and what else would be needed?

i saw this on the official Surface website (accessories section power adapter) yesterday. Looks indeed way better!

Thank goodness.  The SP2's power adapter is such a pain to line up!  Apple's has long been super duper easy.  I don't know how they messed this up so badly so many years after Apple perfected it.  Hopefully this new one is killer.  Just one more reason for me to get a SP3.  If only I had a ton of money!

Try holding the connector at the wire just under it. Let the magnet do the work of lining it up and snapping it in place :)

Anyone have an idea why the wattage for the adaptor was lowered. I'm not an EE, but wouldn't that mean that SP3 would take even longer to charge, especially given the increased battery size?

My experiences with the surface charger on my surface pro one is positive. It's relatievely easy, charges well and up till now has shown to be quite durbable. The only drawback is that the charger is proprietary, so if you forget, lose it, you're out of luck A universal charger would be more practical in the daily life of things. Something to consider.

One of the questions I have on the power brick is about the length of the cord, from the brick to the AC outlet. On the existing SP2 brick, it's supper short, and for me causes an issue, because the brick always has to rest on something. Hopefully they've made that cord longer. Anyone know?

Is it still possible to pull out the cable between the brick and the wallsocket? So that I can buy the US version and then simply swap out that canle and use it in Europe?

I've always been amazed at things like the power connector. How does it make past QA or any sort of testing when its so obviously bad? I got to believe that someone was defending that thing, right? Glad they fixed, bummed the new supply won't work with my older Surfaces now.

Actually the new connector has another advantage that the author failed to mention.  The new connector is now bi-directional.  You can plug it in with the cable facing up or down, which corrects another peev I've had with the original.

I hope this connector doesn't manage to easily snap and break if you happen to jot the device in the wrong way at the full extension of the cord.

I am an MCSD and MCSE.  I HATE my Surface Pro 3. 

It takes 5 hours to fully charge my Surface Pro 3.  Then I am lucky to get 3 hours used out of it.

The back camera is non-focus, so can't take pictures of documents.  That means I can't email signed documents, take snapshots of notes, can't record important documents, not unless a blurry unreadable copy is sufficient.  Can't use the front camera because then you cant frame the document.

The digital pen is not Wacom, and I find it's pressure sensitivity is not good, it acts like it has 2 levels sensitivity.

Do you like to lay in bed and read or wath videos?  The external keybaord disables when turned sideways, so you can't control the mouse or use the keyboard to turn pages, etc.  I have the rotation locked, so the screen doesn't rotate, so that the content stays aligned to my head and not to gravity, but there is no setting to not disable the keyboard when the device is rotated sideways.

The keyboard driver sometimes gets confused where all numerics become *shifted* into the special characters.  Pressing shift does not compensated.  Must reboot to get to back to normal.  Guys at MS store in the mall had no solution.

The mouse goes away while watching youtube.  Must bring a different window in focus then go back to browser and thr mouse cursor is back for a little while.

Yes it is up-to-date on Windows updates.