Surface Pro 3! First impressions

I’ve made it plain on this blog that I’m a fan of the Surface concept, despite its flawed unveiling. Yes, the same Surface that lost Microsoft over a billion dollars. This must mean the concept sucks right?

Well, no, it it’s not because the vision is flawed, it’s the execution and timing that weren’t right. The first and second Surface Pros were too early — the hardware wasn’t ready to deliver the vision. The first Surface RT was just plain bad. I thought the Surface 2 was ready for primetime, if not for its Windows RT roots.

Timing aside, I’m a fan of the concept because convergence will happen between laptops and tablets, just like the telephone, camera, MP3 player, GPS navigation and PDA converged into today’s smartphone. Microsoft absolutely has the right idea with the Surface; just a few years’ early.

So, does the Surface Pro 3 do it? I’ll want to use this bad boy for a few weeks before concluding anything. My initial impression is that it falls just short for the mainstream; it’s too expensive and the form factor is a hairline from perfect.

Fortunately, it still hits the mark for someone like me. I’m loving the Surface Pro 3 so far.


What I Like

Oh, the screen. It’s gorgeous. Every laptop display needs to have a 3:2 ratio – the viewing space is so much more usable. Going from 10.5-inches to 12.0-inches makes a big difference for productivity.

The pen is a revelation; I got the Next Great App sketched out with it on OneNote. With the hinge fully extended, the tablet becomes a fantastic drawing pad. Awesome. I love that pressing the pen’s button launches OneNote, and prefer the erasing implementation for N-Trig over Wacom.

The Type Cover actually feels better. I’ve read people complain about the Type Cover’s trackpad but I think it’s great. I’m happy with my choice of the deep blue cover – it looks great.

Everything zips (Core i5, 8 GB RAM).

The set-up process with Windows 8.1 is fast and painless. My settings on the Modern side were seamlessly synced.

Oh, the screen, did I mention the screen?


What I Don’t Like

The upper-right side gets blazing hot. I understand at the start there’s a lot to index and download, but still. This is what I mean by the hardware being a tad too early — the next generation chipset, Broadwell, will dramatically cut down on heat.

I was wrong in stating that 2 pounds is a threshold for a tablet’s weight. The Surface Pro 3 is 1.76 pounds, but it should be 1.5 pounds and below. The combined weight of the tablet, keyboard and pen is noticeable in a way that the Surface 2 and cover is not. Still light enough to carry casually, but it could go on a diet.

Nowhere to satisfactorily put the pen. The pen loop thing is OK, but it’s not awesome.

The new power connector isn’t that big of an improvement from the old one, so I’m annoyed the back-up power adaptor I have in the office (for the Surface 2) can’t be used for the Surface Pro 3.

Rough edges in the software. The Surface Pro 3 already froze on me. The early iPhones and iPads were similarly rough, but Microsoft has to realize in today’s world the Surface competes with rock-solid, mature alternatives.

The Surface Pro 3 has a two week return window in Singapore. Will I keep the device by then?

We’ll see. Check back September 8.

2 thoughts on “Surface Pro 3! First impressions

  1. I am debating between an I5 and I7. I primarily do software development, Visual studio, and I was wondering would an upgrade to an I7 make the difference. I don’t go gaming and if or when I get one, I will be getting an dock station along with the desktop making it the only device that I use. I am also ordering the 4k Tv.

    I really want to wait for the next generation of processor but I if wonder if broadwell will offer the same power as existing I series processor. Also, I hear that many school are opting for the surface Pro 3.

    Also I have hope that Microsoft will get windows 9 right, they are being very cautious about what they do going forward. I really have hope.


    1. Based on what I’ve read, the i7 is a luxury you probably won’t need. The main challenge is that due to its thin form factor, the SP3 will throttle performance when it gets too hot. So you won’t always be able to fully utilize the full power of an i7 chip — you see that most clearly in gaming where frame rates drop if the SP3 works too hard, and I’m guessing it happens in other taxing tasks as well.


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