Sunday, July 13, 2014

Surface Pro 3 - first impressions

The Surface Pro 3 is not "the tablet that can replace your laptop"and if that's what you are looking for then stop looking. That mythical all-in-one convergence device simply doesn't exist yet.
What the Surface Pro 3 is however is a powerful productivity device that while not what you were looking for might be exactly what you need.

The Surface in question here is a middle of the road Core i5 with 256GB of storage. Adding the type cover, Office 365 Personal and a perhaps redundant 13" Incipio Ronin sleeve my grand total came to $ 1.598,- which is frankly a lot of money, twice as much as my iPad Air 4g 64GB for example. On that note, if you are in the market for a tablet, get the iPad and stop reading this piece as the rest of it is totally irrelevant.

Still here?

The reason for that rather blunt statement is that as a pure tablet the Surface Pro 3 is simply a failure. Way too heavy to comfortably hold in either orientation for longer than a minute or two and too large to balance on an uneven surface. The legacy of windows gives most apps a exceptionally poor touch interface and the majority simply don't support portrait mode. Also the kickstand is absolutely useless as the slightest touch of the Surface while propped up on it sends it sliding all over the place on any kind of smooth surface like... a table or a desk. Making the device unsuitable for anything other than passive content consumption. A tablet you can't use as a tablet is completely redundant.

But, with the type cover connected, that awkward device becomes an amazing ultra portable, powerful and convenient Win 8.1 laptop. For one, the keyboard instantly stops the surface from sliding all over your desk and gives you all the keys you need to be productive in the included applications. You'll quickly learn how to move between the keyboard and the touchscreen to get things done in the most efficient manner and even the most die hard Windows 7 hold-out might finally get what Microsoft was aiming for with Windows 8. The included pen was great for making quick notes but personally, unless you're an artist, I think the pen is a hold-over from a bygone era and not really that useful anymore for those of us with mouse/trackpad and typing skills. The trackpad itself is actually the only downside to the type cover as it's not as responsive as I'm used to from other notebooks.

So as a first impression, it's probably one of the worst tablets I've ever used and at the same time one of the best ultraportables. At this price however it's still very hard to recommend this over a MacBook Air unless you just absolutely need Windows.