May 20, 2014
Today Microsoft announced their new tablet PC: Surface Pro 3. It’s an improvement version over the Surface Pro 2. Although both tablets are with active pen, Surface Pro 3 is 32% thinner at only 0.36 inch, while the Surface Pro 2 is 0.53 inch thick. How does Microsoft Surface group achieve the thinness? The answer is in the touch and active pen technology.
Figure. Surface Pro 3 with active pen
Source: Microsoft, May 2014
Simultaneous finger touch and pen writing are the ideal human machine interface. Active pen technology is superior to passive pen in terms of accuracy, pressure sensing, and input of fine line. In our recently released Active pen technologies supply chain and market forecast 2014 report, we forecast that active pen usage will have rapid growth in the next several years.
Touch Display Research’s “Active pen 2014 report” provides analysis of over a dozen digital pen technologies: nine active pen technologies and six passive pen technologies. All the Android and Windows devices with active pen are compared side by side in a single chart.
The attitude of leading brands toward active pen is analyzed. This includes Samsung, Sony, Intel, HP, Dell, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Apple. You can subscribe to the report right now on our website.
Today Microsoft announced the updated Surface tablet PCs: the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. This time both will use a display with the same resolution––1920X1080.
Figure. Microsoft Surface Pro 2
Photo source: Microsoft, September 2013
In October 2012 and February 2013, the first Microsoft-branded tablet PCs were released––the Surface RT and Surface Pro. After years of focusing on software, Microsoft now had a tablet product in addition to hardware lines such as the Xbox game console.
In Microsoft’s July 2013 financial report, the company took a $900 million loss due to the Surface. Obviously, the first Surface tablet PC wasn’t very successful.
As we wrote in the August issue of Touch and Emerging Display report, we believe one of the mistakes that Microsoft made was with the display. A 10.6” size and two different pixel formats for the RT and the Pro were used. 10.6” size was never mass-produced by any display manufacturer before Surface, therefore both of the 10.6” displays were custom made, and that meant a high cost. The result was the high price of the original Surface tablet.
Nevertheless, the second round should be better. Microsoft used the same pixel format this time for both the Surface 2 and Pro 2. More analysis about the touch screen and active pen features can be found in our Touch and Emerging Display monthly report.