Panos Panay and the Surface team just finished their Reddit AMA, here are the highlights

Panos Panay and the Surface have just wrapped up their AMA on Reddit. That’s the informal Q&A session with the community at Reddit. The focus was of course the newly announced Surface Pro 3, but the team also fielded questions about Surface in general.

Below we’ve pulled out all the info that Panos and team shared from the AMA. Just sit back and read all his answers right here.

What’s output resolution for the Surface Pro 3 without the dock?     

“Hi, this is Pete from the Surface Team. The mDP port on the device can drive a 4K display - this is true for the i7, i5, and i3 - while still running the Surface Pro 3 display.” (Source)

What’s the number one thing you’ll say to someone asking why they should get the Surface Pro 3 over this laptop and that tablet?

"Great question- high level, our statement says it all. It is the tablet that can replace the laptop. This is the one product you need to do it all. It acts as a tablet, and can be used as a laptop. It is great in both scenarios. There is no product out there that compares. Too many times folks are stuck in the middle, have to carry two devices, or don't want to lug around the weight.” (Source)

What happened to the Blades concept? Will we see any unique covers or 3rd parties making covers?

“The ability to click in is something that was part of Surface from the very beginning. With the new Type Cover for Surface Pro 3, we take productivity to the next level with the double fold hinge adding magnetic stability and a much larger track pad for even more accurate 'mousing'. As for any additional covers, you'll just have to wait and see.” (Source)

Does the omission of a non-Pro Surface during last week's presentation mean the end of the product and Windows RT?

“Windows on ARM continues to be an important part of the Windows strategy. The Surface 2 (which runs Windows RT) is a great choice for both play and getting work done. Windows on ARM got even better with recent additions including third-party MDM, workplace join and Outlook, which is preinstalled along with the other Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), with the Windows RT 8.1 update.” (Source)             

Is the battery tradeoff for the performance of the Intel Core i7 model of the Surface Pro 3?

“The battery performance is the same across the i3, i5, and i7. The i7 will see benchmark scores appx. 15-20% better than the SP3 i5.” (Source)

Does the surface touchpad have gestures like the Macbooks have?

“Yes the track pad supports both edge gestures and two finger gestures for scrolling and zooming.” (Source)

Have you done anything to improve the keyboard plastic so that it does not tear off?

“We have done a ton of research and design work in the new Type Covers. All materials have improved. We have a team that focusses on materials design exclusively. The whole construction of the Type Cover is redesigned to be more robust and more productive.” (Source)

Will it be possible to have the top pen button open the desktop version of OneNote or anything else?

“Glad to hear you love the new pen! With regards to OneNote metro -- we are making it configurable to launch the classic desktop for users who want that experience. With regards to general configurability of the top buton -- at this point, we are not planning to make it generally configurable. Eraser on the top button -- great feedback.” (Source)

Why is it so difficult in the Windows ecosystem to create a touchpad experience as good as the one found in Apple MacBooks?

“A couple of things that we have done with the new TypeCover. 60%+ larger trackpad area, embedded glass beads for smoother feel, and a mechanical button...provides greatly improved feel. Trackpad also support Precision Track Pad features with Windows to support gestures including; Edgy, Pan, & Pinch/Zoom.” (Source)

As a student already invested in Microsoft's ecosystem (with Windows, Office, OneDrive and Xbox), what benefits does the Surface Pro 3 bring me as opposed to another Windows Hybrid with Office included for free?

“Thanks for the questions. Few things I'd call out based on spending a bunch of time with students using Surface today. First thing is the device itself. It is super thin, much lighter than earlier versions of Surface Pro and as a student, you will love the note-taking experience.” (Source)

Is the i5 128gb model of the Surface Pro 3 powerful enough for me to run Microsoft Office software, Visual Studio Ultimate and other processor intensive software that I may need for 6th form?

“The i5 is definitely powerful enough to run Office, Visual Studio Ultimate and other powerful software. If you missed the launch video, we showcased Surface Pro 3 running Revit (powerful building modeling software from Autodesk), Adobe Photoshop and other cool software and apps.” (Source)

How good honestly is the new trackpad on the Type cover 3? Because my laptop trackpad is perfect (because it has real clickable buttons), and the Type cover 2 is almost unusable for my needs.

“You will love the new trackpad. We reduced friction by 78% vs. our previous trackpads, it is 60% bigger than the previous Surface Pro. This is as good as trackpads you will find on some of the best laptops.” (Source)

Which is best, the black type cover or the royal blue one? Because the royal blue one looks so sweet.

“The best Type Cover is whatever color you like best. The blue one is awesome IMO, but I'm writing on a purple right now.” (Source)Bottom of Form

Is there any possibility a firmware update bringing Connected Standby on Surface Pro 2 in a near future?

“The Pro2 was not designed for Connected Standby. Pro3 is.” (Source)

How long does it take for the Surface Pro 3 to come out of Standby when pressing the button? Is it several seconds like previous Surface Pros?

“Pro 3 is a Connected Standby system, it will wake up in half a second. If you do not touch the system for more than 4 hours, it will go to hibernate, and then deep sleep to go to single digit miliwatts. At that point it will take longer, like a pro2 coming out of hibernate.” (Source)

What is Microsoft doing to encourage partners to make everything from cases to chargers to nifty gadgets for the Surface Pro 3?

“We're working with a bunch of partners to get great accessories out there. You’ll see cases more quickly than other things, but you'll see mounts, protective cases, etc.” (Source)

What happened and why can't I buy a Surface Remix blade at a Microsoft Store?

“The ability to click in is something that was part of Surface from the very beginning. We're always exploring new products that will make Surface awesome for our customers. Stay tuned for more.” (Source)

How is it possible to call the Surface Pro 3 a laptop killer when the device does not come with a keyboard?

“When we first launched Surface, we sold it only in a bundle format. The top feedback we got was that people loved the color covers and wanted full choice (but stores wouldn't sell all color bundles) and some people definitely wanted to buy without cover.” (Source)

How long does it take to fully charge the SP3?

“SP3 will charge from 0% to 80% in 2 hours and to 100% in 4 hours.” (Source)

What’s the longevity of the batteries in the Surface Pro 3?

“The batteries on our Surface products are designed with some of the highest charge cycles for consumer electronic devices. This means that the battery can get charged daily (5 days a week) for over 4.5 years and still maintain 80% capacity.” (Source)

Can the battery be replaced on the Surface Pro 3?

“The battery can be replaced, but not by the user. The process would be to contact support and send the device in to have it replaced.The response above that "the battery can get charged daily (5 days a week) for over 4.5 years and still maintain 80% capacity." reflects the testing we've done on the battery. If the battery life becomes an issue you should contact Microsoft support.Bottom of Form” (Source)

How much does the battery cost to replace?

“IF the battery fails during the warranty period, we’ll replace the battery. IF the battery fails after the warranty period, you’ll call Microsoft support and arrange for the battery to be replaced. The cost will be $200 USD.” (Source)

Are there future plans on changing the graphics controller, giving that you have more space in the new larger layout?

“Hi, the i7 has Intel HD graphics 5000, the i5 has Intel HD Graphics 4400, and the i3 has Intel HD Graphics 4200.” (Source)

Will there be any way to quickly enable/disable the functionality of the Windows button on the Surface Pro 3 so it does not get accidentally pressed while using the stylus?

“When we made Surface Pro 3, we wanted a device that worked not only in landscape mode, but worked beautifully in portrait mode. This is super important for things like reading, annotating docs, etc. Putting the home button where it is in SP3 makes working in portrait natural. Now that said, we also invested a ton of effort into ensuring that when working in landscape mode, you don't trigger the button by accident. This includes things like palm rejection, guard sensors that prevent inadvertent hits, etc. Mike (Gabe) is one of our favorite Surface fans, so we're working closely with him to understand and address the issues he is specifically having.” (Source)

Can we control power setting? What happened to High Performance Mode on Surface Pro 3 it appears we cannot change it. Is this a Thermal issue?

"Not a thermal decision, related to connected standby. We are continuing to review options.” (Source)

Has the Wi-Fi been Improved over the Pro2, Throughput / Range?

“Pro3 has 802.11ac -- if you have an 802.11ac access point, you will see much higher throughput.” (Source)

When will we be able to demo the Surface Pro 3 in store?

“Demo units will be showing up on June 6th in Best Buy stores.” (Source)

When Windows 9 comes around, will we be able to upgrade to it on the Surface Pro 3?

“Yes. Whatever the next version is called.” (Source)

Why won't you release a white Type Cover?

“Not many people were buying white, so we did not launch it this time around.” (Source)                                                                 

What considerations have stopped mobile SIM card/3G/LTE support being directly included in any of the Surface Pro series?

“It’s not in the roadmap right now, but we hear the requests. We have USB so lots of people are using those and "mifi" tethering solutions. Battery certainly has been a consideration to date...” (Source)

“When you buy your Surface Pro 3, do me a favor, and take a close look at the power connector." (Source)

What happened to the darker color on Surface devices?

“The dark titanium was great. We spent a lot of time to study and develop extremely scratch resistant finishes. The magnesium, Surface is made from has a silver sheen and we decided to have it shine through the semi clear top coat of Surface Pro 3.” (Source)

Photographers use full size SD cards and for those with micro cards there are adapters, what was the thinking behind only offering the micro option?

“One of the goals with Surface Pro 3 is thin. Space inside the device is critical and always a valued resource. SD functionality was important for us and has been since the first products introduced. Options are the adapter you mention or connecting your camera directly to full size USB.” (Source)

What are the reasons behind the 3:2 aspect ratio in the Surface Pro 3?

“We chose 3:2 cause it works great both in landscape and portrait. It is a 1.5 aspect ratio... vs. 16:9 which 1.77 is really geared more towards landscape. 3:2 is also more a kin to paper… something natural and familiar for people. Given we wanted to build a device that worked well in all 4 modes of input: it had to be wide enough to house a full keyboard, tall enough in landscape so you can see all your emails lists.. Facebook posts, etc… and it had to be balanced in your hand to hold it in portrait so you could write like you would on a notepad and touch the screen. We mapped a lot of the available digital content… took their aspect ratios... and the aspect ratio that was a balanced fit for all.. was 3:2. I really like 3:2... Cause when you divide 3:2 in half in landscape... you get two 4:3 screens in portrait. So Pro3 in split screen mode is like running to 8” 4:3 screen side by side... pretty cool! The other reason why we like 3:2.. is cause of its kinship with paper. 8.5x11 piece of paper is 1.33 ratio... but once you take into account the margins... about 1.25” on both sides... and 1” top and bottom (various standards).. means an “Active area” of 9”x6”.. that is where 9x6 comes from.. now take 9/6 and reduce the fraction.. (divide by 3).. and your 3:2 J . For the flexibility in experience we have designed pro 3 for... typing, mousing, touch, and pen: 3:2 is a great choice... hits a sweet spot in productivity, is compact and easy to carry, and adapts to both landscape and portrait well.” (Source)

Please confirm on the processor + GPU specs for all models - helps in decision making.

“Here you go: i3 – 4020Y - 1.50GHz with Intel HD graphics 4200 I5 - 4300U - 1.6GHz with Intel Turbo Boost up to 2.90GHz with Intel HD Graphics 4400 i7 – 4650U – 1.7GHz Intel Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz with Intel HD graphics 5000.” (Source)

While the double-fold definitely looks like it adds a lot to "lapable" stability and balance, does the extra hinge on the cover also help minimize any slight "bowing" of the keyboard when on an uneven surface?

“We looked at many different options to address 'lapability', both how much space on the lap and more stability. The 'fold' addressed both of these pieces. When you try it, try it both with fold down and fold up striking improvement. Another element we included was to change the substrate on the keyboard to a honeycomb structure. This let us take weight out, make thinner, and increase stability.” (Source)

Is there some kind of anti-fingerprint coating on the SP3's display?

"Ya.. we use an oleophobic coating." (Source)

And that's a wrap. Have any other questions about the Surface Pro 3? Sound off below. Don't forget to check out some killer Surface Pro 3 articles linked below.

Sam Sabri