Benefits of Surface 3 form factor?

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro 3' started by quarien, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. quarien

    quarien New Member

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    Hi,
    my current laptop got old and I'm looking for some nice replacement. I don't really need anything powerful, because at home I have a big Windows gaming rig, so basically there is no device on the market, that can beat this beast in terms of performance. What I need is a very mobile, long lasting device, like an ultrabook - or Surface.

    However, I live in Poland, so there is no "official" way to get one here (like... from Microsoft). Of course it is possible to import one from US though. But, as you may imagine, it adds to the price a bit, so already expensive Surface is even more expensive, especially compared to classic ultrabooks.

    So - do you thing that Surface Pro 3 form factor is worth all that trouble?
    I work as a ... hum... R&D computer programmer? I create demo software for future development, so what I need from my device is long lasting battery and lots of RAM (I often work simultaneously on many RAM-consuming programs like Visual Studio, Photoshop, virtual machines, etc. ) .

    To compare prices, Asus Zenbook with i5, 8 to 12 GB of RAM, 128 SSD costs less than $1300 . The cheapest Surface Pro 3 with i5/8gb/256gb that I could find is $1500 (and the keyboard - $200). And yes - it has more disc space, yes - it has revolutionary form factor. I know that.

    Do you use your Surface in that... unusual way? Or is it just a gimmick and Surface ended as a weird looking laptop?
     
  2. mahdi75

    mahdi75 Member

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    I was in the same situation. I live in Iran, there's no official way to get one. Although third parties are selling such things. i5/8/256 model costed almost $1500 for me.

    I'm going to university this year, and I don't have a job currently. but I do programming as a hobby. I run Visual Studio and maybe Windows Phone VMs on my Surface. If 8GB RAM is enough for you, then it's a good machine.
    I connect it to a 29" monitor and a USB3 hub, with full-sized keyboard and mouse connected to the hub. It's my main PC, actually.

    However, as you said, it's more expensive than alternatives. If you plan to just use it as a laptop, I think you should go for an ultrabook, or a macbook air (and install Windows on it).
    But if you want to use it as a tablet or note taking device too, then Surface might be worth. Actually, for me, it's amazing how fast you can turn your tablet to a laptop and do serious work.

    You may hear many things about "lapability", but since you are a programmer, you'll most probably work on a table, so you don't have any issue. Although I (almost) don't have any issues with surface on my lap, too.
     
  3. Liam2349

    Liam2349 Active Member

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    It sounds to me like you need to decide if 8GB RAM is enough for you. If it is, then one of the 8GB SP3s is something you should consider.

    For me, the biggest thing about Surface is the pen experience and being able to hold it in one hand and just write, combined with your normal laptop functionality. Your use case is a bit different, so I think you should also consider how often you want to use it like a tablet.
     
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  4. quarien

    quarien New Member

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    Well, that could work. However, as I said - I have a quite powerful rig, with desktop i7, GTX 770, 16GB RAM and lots and lots of disc space. So you know - except some Alienware gaming laptops there is no device that can beat the comfort of my computer. What I need is a mobile device for working "in the field", doing some last minute bugfixes during meetings - this kind of stuff.
    Yes, I use sometimes my laptop on my lap, but mostly when I'm wasting my time watching funny cat videos ;)

    Well, it's hard to say what I plan to do with Surface, because I never had one. I have a laptop, so I'll try to do laptop things on it. I had an iPad... and I sold it, because it was totally pointless for me. When I was buying it, I promised myself to use it "for everything". Well..
    I tried to read books, but Kindle is WAY better.
    I tried to use it for emails, but most of my messages are work related and either way I need to take my laptop out to do what I'm asked for (you know, fixt_it_or_we_are_all_going_to_die-messages)
    I tried to use it for the internet... but writing stuff was a real pain, so again - every time I saw something wort replying I had to take my laptop out.
    Youtube? Sorry, this video is not available for your device.
    etc. etc.
    tl;dr - I don't use tablets, because I always need to use my laptop. Having two devices in one bag is too heavy, too expensive and too ... dumb?

    What I'm asking you guys is the "reality" of having device like that.

    For now it is more than enough. I don't know about the future, because few years ago I thought that 2 gigs of RAM is almost endless ;). However - as I said, performance isn't the most important thing to me - I only need my device to work... comfortably?

    Yes! The stylus. From my previous experience with stylus devices, like Samsung Notes (phones and tablets), because of slippery, glass surface my handwriting was just terrible. Normally isn't that bad. Also, I noticed that I need more space to write down stuff, compared to classic pen and paper. Did you have the same experience with your device?

    The question isn't how much I want to use it like a tablet. The question is - How it can be used as a tablet? Are all those touch capabilities useful, or you stop using them immediately?
     
  5. ctitanic

    ctitanic Well-Known Member

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    I would say that it's the form factor the main ingredient that triggers the sales on this device.
     
  6. quarien

    quarien New Member

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    As far as I know, Surface Pros didn't sell that well?
     
  7. mahdi75

    mahdi75 Member

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    This is one of exciting things about Surface. You are using your Surface as a tablet, browsing facebook or reading personal emails. Then you need to write something, or you receive a work related email.
    If you have a regular tablet, you'll need to leave it and turn on your laptop, but with Surface you'll just need to open the kickstand and connect the type cover.

    However, I'm not sure if it's worth the extra $200 or not.
     
  8. Liam2349

    Liam2349 Active Member

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    Ok, I think the handwriting experience could differ between people. I think it's something you really need to test out yourself, and Microsoft's generous returns policy allows for that. I can tell you I don't write on paper anymore though.

    With actually using it as a tablet, like you said with your ipad, I don't really like to type with the virtual keyboard. Right now I am on my SP3, with the kickstand and cover, and I'm writing on the mechanical keyboard because it's so much faster than tapping the screen. So most of the time I expect to write - checking Skype, email, forums, I use it like a laptop with a touchscreen.

    If I am lying in bed however, sometimes I like to hold the Surface above me, and just read. Read the news, read the latest benchmarks on Anandtech, and SP3 is great for that. I do it in portrait without the cover.

    As for how I use it productively, I'm not quite there yet. I'm on my holidays from uni for a few more weeks, but I expect I will use it similarly to how I used SP2. Take it into class and write in portrait - swipe in pdfs, annotate notes provided by lecturers. In lab time, open it up as a laptop and work in Excel and MATLAB.

    Personally I like being able to do all of this with one device. If you like the tablet experience without compromising on any laptop features, Surface is a great buy.
     
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  9. ctitanic

    ctitanic Well-Known Member

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  10. wynand32

    wynand32 Active Member

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    I think the SP3 makes for an excellent all-around computing device, as others have discussed in this thread. I don't, however, think it's the right machine for some specific use-cases. For example, it is simply not the right machine to buy if you're looking for a portable PC gaming solution--far better to buy a dedicated gaming notebook in that case. I also don't think it's the right machine if you have very specific applications that require the absolute best performance--such as video editing and large image editing (although the screen is excellent for photographers).

    The fact is, the SP3's strengths--thin and light for unparalleled portability and use as a productivity tablet (and as a consumption tablet)--don't support its use as a high-performance machine. It performs very well _for what it is_, but certainly there are better machines if you want to do hardcore 3D modelling, video editing, gaming, etc. At some point, it becomes a round peg-square hole kind of thing, and the unique form factor starts to weigh against it.

    This is why, I believe, we have so many threads where people are complaining about gaming performance, throttling, underwhelming Core i7 performance, etc. It's because some folks want a combination of the SP3's form factor and the highest performance, something for which the technology just doesn't exist yet. And, it won't anytime soon, I don't think--Broadwell will provide for better thermal performance and battery life, but overall CPU/GPU performance will be no better than we currently have with Haswell (might even be a bit worse).

    So, short answer: if you have highly specialized performance needs that aren't enhanced by the SP3's form factor, then in all likelihood it's not the right machine for you. IMO, of course.
     
  11. raqball

    raqball Active Member

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    This for me is the #1 reason why I absolutely love the SP3. It has replaced my MacBook and my tablet! My MacBook was sold and my tablet was given to my niece.

    It has indeed been a laptop and a tablet replacement rolled into one for me..
     
  12. wynand32

    wynand32 Active Member

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    I think I misread your original post, in that you're NOT looking for the best performance. So, I'll leave my other response for whatever its general value might be, but give some quick thoughts on your actual question. :)

    I'm in the same boat as you. I had my notebook (a MacBook Air running Win 8.1 in a Parallels VM) for my "real" portable work, a Core i7-4770K desktop for video editing, gaming, etc., and then a Nexus 10 tablet for the typical tablet stuff--light browsing, RSS curation, email curation, etc. So, when I was mobile, I'd take my MacBook Air and my Nexus 10 in my bag, and switch between them depending on what I was doing.

    Now, I just take my SP3. I do have a Dell Venue 8 Pro that I use for the most casual stuff and for roaming around the house. The one thing I've noticed about the SP3 vs. other tablets is that I'm more careful with it simply because it's so much more expensive. It's not delicate by any means, but I just can't bring myself to prop it up on the kitchen table when I'm eating lunch and want to watch a video; I use my Dell instead (which cost me $230, vs. $1500 all-in for the SP3).

    Otherwise, though, I use my SP3 as my sole machine, flipping the Type Cover around back when I'm using it as a tablet and then when inspiration strikes and I want to do some real writing, I just flip the Type Cover back around and get to work. I do this when I'm relaxing in bed and when I'm sitting in a café. The SP3 is literally the first and only machine I've owned that can function comfortably in most situations for both roles--full-fledged notebook running a real OS and a consumption tablet.

    Now, I hate using my Nexus 10. Android just seems so incredibly limited to me now (and don't get me started with iOS 7 on my iPad 3). Yes, there are a few modern tablet apps that are missing on my SP3, but for the most part I can use the Web equivalent. Overall, I don't miss my "real" tablets at all, and find the SP3 to be far more powerful even as a consumption tablet. And, I haven't felt the need to fire up my MacBook Air.

    So again, short version: yes, the SP3 offers real value as a tablet--the touch interface with modern apps is definitely preferable to a mouse and keyboard on a regular notebook for things like browsing, RSS reading, email, and a variety of other tasks. Indeed, that's what other tablets got right (starting with the iPad)--touching a screen really does make for a more natural interface except when precision is needed (and even then, we have the pen on the SPp3).

    To me, the real testament to how valuable a touch screen on a tablet is remains how often I try to touch the screen when I use non-touch notebooks. It just seems more intuitive to me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014

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