Hands On: Surface Pro 3 (my opinion from my usage with the SP3)

ExTrAbUtTa

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WP_20140521_11_51_54_Pro.jpg

Having spent sometime (throughout this day) using a Surface Pro 3, I have some insights and opinions from a normal (excited) consumer standpoint.

My thoughts...

Design:
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From a design perspective, this device is pretty fantastic. Owning such computers as a newer MacBook Air, I can say that the level of quality is more than on-par with Apple's favorite offering. The weight feels very good in hand. When properly compared to a laptop (I say properly because it seems that the tablet-design has made many journalist compare it repeatedly to a iPad Air or Android tablet, quickly deeming it too heavy) it is extremely light. Compared to my Surface Pro 1 and 2 (which weigh the same) its is a substantial difference. Enough to make me look at my older Surface's in disappointment. Its very close to the weight on the Surface 2, so using it in "tablet mode" is a more viable option on the SP3 then it ever was on the SP1/2. Couple that with a bigger screen and its an overall winner. From my use, the aspect ratio was a wise choice on MS part. Using the tablet in portrait mode (yes, it can be done) does not feel awkward, look silly, or eventually strain your wrist. Could you hold the tablet at arms length (why?) for repeated use? Probably not, because its still has weight when compared to devices that would fair much better in, "arm-out" scenarios. The feel is great as well, if you've used a Surface 2 then you will immediately enjoy holding this device , as well. I personally enjoy the silver color as well, I think it brings more "life" to the device, as opposed to te dark magnesium.

"Lapability":

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I guess I have to mention this area of the SP3. I find it amusing how this term is either hated or loved. I also find it funny that everyone is so focused on this area and how quick they are to dismiss its abilities. The above picture I was using the SP3 on my lap. Typing out this quick preview its been on my lap. When I first was using it I sat down (naturally) on a couch to use it. I can't understand the issues in regards to using this computer on your lap. I've tried various scenarios, seating positions, leg positions, it all worked. And not in a "Its-about-to-cap-side-and-hit-the-ground-but-if-I-hold-my-breath-everything-will-stay-still-and-wont-move" type of way. I just adjusted the stand to a good position and started using it. The kickstand is a GENIUS idea though and fully realized on this iteration of the Surface Pro. Multiple positions, great resistance (won't move if touching/tapping screen) and awesome build quality. The lowest setting plays VERY well for writing on the screen or using the onscreen keyboard with your palms resting on a table or your lap. Now, everyone is not the same, so my ease of use can very well be a disaster for the next man/woman. Personally, I feel MS has done a thorough job in addressing the qualms from the SP1/2 kickstand.

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Performance:

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Compared to my older Surface Pro 1/2 this thing is MUCH faster. It could be my own mind playing tricks, but I'm seeing usage out of applications like Po Tools on a much higher scale, than previously. One of my main reasons in wanting a SP3 it the ability to create music, completely, on the go through my normal software. Ideally, I'd like to have tried an i7 (the model I will plan to buy), but from my use with a i5/256 SSD/8 GB Ram, it has left me very impressed. Heat seems to be a none issue, through continuous use of the web from website , streaming, music, the device never became to hot. Warm? Yes, but nothing you would have to worry about. Battery length seems very good through my day, seeing real use and using it with a variety of different people. I have no benchmark test, but I'm notching battery life right where (if not better) MS has claimed. All in all, it has the performance to match a majority of users needs. Given the speed of the i5, my wife would be quite happy with the i3 because she doesn't want much more.

Pen:

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There is a heated debate about MS choice to use N-trig over Wacom. I'll start first by saying, I am no professional artist, sketchers, painter, etch etc. My skills stop at stick figures and little brown houses on green hills, with the sun in the corner. I'm no authority on the nuances of pressure sensitivity and accurate usage. With that said, from my use with OneNote this pen feels WORLDS better then the original Surface Pro pen. Its smoother, latency free and much more accurate. It allows me to write in much more stable way. I take notes for a variety of reasons and personally use the Surface Pro 1/2 pen whenever I have either device. The feel of this pen is much more natural. I do have a artist friend who does work for marketing companies, graphic design using a Cintiq and had him try out the pen. From his perspective, it was just as good, he did mention feeling like it was "closer" to the screen when pressing it down to write. I mentioned the lack of pressure levels and his response was that it felt the same if not better. Take it for what it is or with a grain of salt. That's out of my "jurisdiction"" so from my humble OneNote application, it feels superb.

Price:

Given what MS achieved to create these devices, I do not feel that the pricing is off. Its right in line. The quality, build, feel, performance is priced very well, You want one of the best pieces of hardware/software, it comes at a price. That's my opinion, others may want it for $Free.99, but that isn't realistic.
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Overall, I'm quite excited for the future of the Surface lineup. The SP3 is the step in the right direction for MS and one that I feel will pay off in the end. If your on the fence about whether this is the device for you, I'd advising giving it a test run in your local retailer first. Either way, I'd be surprised if you were not impressed.
 

Racing Snake

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Great review! - sort of cements my decision really (coming from a S1RT).

But I do think I'd need to do that 'US Trip' to save myself the ?450 price difference for the same model against UK prices :|
 

tweedie

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Great review! - sort of cements my decision really (coming from a S1RT).

But I do think I'd need to do that 'US Trip' to save myself the ?450 price difference for the same model against UK prices :|
I am tempted to do a US trip as well from uk for the price difference is quite a lot, though I am not entirely sure what would be saved.

so, you can just walk into a store, get an i7 sp3 for $1549 (?917, saving of ?400) and hop back on the plane back to uk? Do you not have to declare it at airport? What about warranty - can it be repaired within uk? What about the plugs - will uk plug be provided?
 

maflynn

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Aweful Review and I'm sorry to have read it.

Why? Because now I want one even more :crying:

I had just about decided that I shouldn't get one but after reading this, it confirms my opinion that Microsoft hit this one out of the park.

btw, great in depth review :grin:
 

Pete

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Very nice indeed. I will probably end up being tempted by one of these, but thankfully I have a few months to talk myself out of it...
 

EuroKnuter

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Excellent review, thank you! One quick question: when you said "...I'm seeing usage out of applications like Po Tools on a much higher scale, than previously." did you mean Pro Tools? If so, did you install Avid's software and play around with it? I'm very curious about this, as my SP1 didn't quite cut the mustard for an on-the-go DAW as I was hoping it might. I too am looking at the i7 w/ 8GB RAN and xtra large SDD...
 

Markham Ranja

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so, you can just walk into a store, get an i7 sp3 for $1549 (?917, saving of ?400) and hop back on the plane back to uk? Do you not have to declare it at airport? What about warranty - can it be repaired within uk? What about the plugs - will uk plug be provided?

Theoretically, yes, you can do just that. Much better to ask a friend to bring one back, though. As for customs, I just carried it in my backpack with my laptop after throwing away the wrapping. This was Heathrow T5.

Warranty may be an issue, though most are international these days. Plugs should not be an issue - just buy a US>UK adapter (I know voltages are different - the original Surface Pro had a universal charger that took any voltage and that should be the same in this case). Or just go to the MS store and buy another charger. Even if it costs ?100 (unlikely) you've saved a cool ?300 :)
 

zicoz

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Is it possible to right-click with the pen? I love that one just have to hold the button the the S2P pen to right-click, but from the presentation it seemed as if the buttons had other functions on S3P
 

ExTrAbUtTa

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Yes, I meant Pro Tools. I installed Pro Tools 9 and was playing around with it for a fair amount of time. I've personally attempted using Pro Tools on my SP1/2 and would usually hit a wall where too many plug-ins or tracks caused the system to crash. Using it on the SP3 with an i5/8GB Ram I was able to effectively add plug-ins and multiple tracks without much issue. I wasn't pushing it necessarily, but just testing how it would handle a pretty decent project. From my understanding (or assumption) the i5 model at 8GB is basically the same configuration as the older SP2 @ 256GB or 512GB. So, either something is better optimized(?) or I wasn't fully testing it enough to truly know its limitations. However, from my own personal use on the older Pro's I'm certain the i7 variant will accomplish the needs I have on the go for music creation. The i5 on my older Pro's would eventually crash after multiple plug-ins and tracks, if the i7 can take this a few steps further, than I will be very excited. Any more and that's icing on my cake.
 

ExTrAbUtTa

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Yes, there is a "right click" on the pen. The second button (closer to the top of the pen) sevens as the "right click" feature on the pen. I too really enjoyed that feature on the SP1/2 and am happy to report that function is still in place.
 

smoheath

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How does the tip of the pen feel? Is it plasticky like the SP1/2 Wacom one or is it more rubbery feeling. I hope it has some give to it, not a lot. It would just make it feel more natural, kind of like a felt tip pen.
 

ExTrAbUtTa

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I saw a review that said after watching a video for 20min it got up to ~103F. Would you mind taking temperature readings?

Unfortunately, I don not have any temperature readings, but will say my unit NEVER hit such levels of heat. That would be pretty extreme for the back of the device to heat up to 103F. Definitely, would hamper the enjoyment of using the computer on the go and with your hands. I can only assume that some earlier models could still need some calibration for the fan and when it kicks on and for how long. Given that these devices were handed out, right after the press event, I wouldn't be surprised if a few models were experiences a few hiccups. I would be confident in saying that it isn't the norm. Judging from my ownership with the original Pro's I highly doubt MS would release a new model getting even hotter than the previous ones.
 

ExTrAbUtTa

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How does the tip of the pen feel? Is it plasticky like the SP1/2 Wacom one or is it more rubbery feeling. I hope it has some give to it, not a lot. It would just make it feel more natural, kind of like a felt tip pen.

I know exactly what you are talking about with the pens tip. Yes, it has more give (not too much) when compared to the original Surface Pro Pen. Its not a hard plastic, like the blue tip on the original Pro pens, but a black, rubbery, stiff tip. The give is a lot better and helps drastically in the pen achieving a much more natural writing experience on the screen.
 

smoheath

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I know exactly what you are talking about with the pens tip. Yes, it has more give (not too much) when compared to the original Surface Pro Pen. Its not a hard plastic, like the blue tip on the original Pro pens, but a black, rubbery, stiff tip. The give is a lot better and helps drastically in the pen achieving a much more natural writing experience on the screen.


This is awesome-pants👖. I don't know if I can wait 28 more days. So excited!
 

Jazmac

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I like the review but the only thing I'm not sold on is the keyboard. I have the newer Surface 2 keyboard and it works but I can't get used to the sound it makes when typing. I have a sense the keyboard on this thing won't be any different. If I use the S3 as a laptop replacement, I hope to pair a standard bluetooth keyboard such as the one I pair to my desktop. Which will leave me without a cover but I guess I'll know more when I lay hands on it. Thanks for the review and the pics.
 

Reflexx

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Yes, there is a "right click" on the pen. The second button (closer to the top of the pen) sevens as the "right click" feature on the pen. I too really enjoyed that feature on the SP1/2 and am happy to report that function is still in place.


So, does that mean that the other button could be a middle-mouse click?

​Also... do you know if there is pen tilt sensitivity? Can you vary lines based on the angle you're holding the pen?
 

anon(5445874)

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So, does that mean that the other button could be a middle-mouse click?

​Also... do you know if there is pen tilt sensitivity? Can you vary lines based on the angle you're holding the pen?
I hope so, programs like cinema 4d need it!! its the only feature I miss on my sp2
 

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