My Review

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro 3' started by Liam2349, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. Liam2349

    Liam2349 Active Member

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    I wanted to share my review on this forum to help potential buyers, as I did on Amazon and Microsoft Store. Why did I write my own? Because 99% of reviews I see are mostly about specs - I tried to talk more about my experiences with it and how it can be used. Here it is:

    When I got my Surface Pro 3, the very first thing I noticed was how light it is. I already knew that it was the thinnest and lightest Intel Core device on the market, but I didn't understand it until I held it. This device is impossibly light - even when you get it, you will be in disbelief.

    Surface Pro 3 features a full-sized USB 3 port, mini display port, microSD slot, charging port and standard headphone jack. It also has volume controls on the side, an incredible kickstand, and is designed for use with Surface Pro Type Cover, which acts as a fantastic keyboard and cover for the screen.

    It has connected standby, meaning that for the first four hours of sleep, you will receive notifications. The device wakes up in 2 seconds during this stage of sleep, which is very nice! After 4 hours, I believe the device hibernates.

    One of the most interesting features of the SP3, for me, is that you can click the end of the pen to open One Note. It feels really natural. When you want to write, you click your pen, and put pen to paper - only this time you are putting pen to Surface, and it works really well.

    Another feature of the pen is that you can double click the top button to take a screenshot, which you can then crop and add to your notes. An excerpt from a digital textbook, a website, it makes note-taking that much simpler. The whole device is a premium build, including the pen, and I think you will be very pleased when you see it.

    The pen tracks amazingly well, much better than the Wacom tech used in Surface Pro 2. The pen now tracks perfectly over the entire screen, even the corners. The screen is so thin that when you write, the ink appears exactly where the nib is. Partnered with palm block - allowing you to place your palm and forearm on the screen and write without interference, this allows for a fantastic, natural writing experience.

    In terms of places to store the pen, you have a few options. You do get a loop with the Type Cover Pro - which is an amazing keyboard and will get its own review - however I don't feel like the loop is a good solution. Pro 2 had a strong magnet to attach the pen to the device, and the Pro 3 pen does actually stick in a similar way, over the charging port, as long as you stick it upside down. It's alright to keep it there when you're sitting down and using the device, and you can also walk with it there. If you start shaking the device it will fall off, but I think you'll be surprised at how well it sticks. I find that for general storage, it's best to keep the pen in a case, such as the Booq Viper Hardcase 13 which is a perfect fit for this device.

    The aspect ratio also adds a lot to the writing experience. Microsoft tried to mimic a pad of paper with the 3:2 display, and it's great - I believe portrait is the better mode for writing notes now. Whilst you could use Surface Pro 2 in portrait mode, it didn't feel right as the screen would be too narrow. SP3 definitely feels good in portrait, but I still find myself using it more in landscape with the kickstand when not writing.

    The build of this device is fantastic. The same Magnesium style as the Pro 2, only this time it's silver. It's a strong and sturdy build, but be careful with the screen, like you should with all large tablets. The high-resolution 2160x1440 display is fantastic, and it's quite a large tablet, but I feel like this is the perfect size to provide a high quality laptop and tablet experience at the same time. Comparing it with my Pro 2, the screen is 40% larger but has 50% more pixels, so overall the display is sharper. Personally I like this size for a tablet, I feel like the 7-inch tablets are too small, and this is a nice size to hold and has plenty of screen space.

    Another thing worth talking about is the kickstand, which is incredible. The two angles with the Pro 2 were so good, I was amazed when Microsoft announced a full-friction kickstand for Pro 3. You can now choose any angle for the kickstand, from 22-150 degrees, so you can choose virtually any angle you need, greatly improving usability. The Type Cover Pro now also magnetically attaches to the screen, providing lift to the top edge of the keyboard to improve the typing experience, and this also greatly enhances stability on your lap.

    Battery life is a bit better than Pro 2, and it does depend on how you use it. Microsoft claims 9 hours of web browsing and it seems appropriate if you use IE. The charger is nice, and the brick is smaller than the one on the Pro 2 charger. You can still charge a device, such as your phone, through the USB port located on the power brick.

    The SP3 is quiet most of the time. When I'm browsing, there's no fan activity, and the only time I've heard the fan is when updating Windows. I haven't got around to using it for anything heavier yet, as I'm on my holidays from uni, but I expect the fan to come on with heavy workloads like it would with other devices. However, compared to other devices, this fan isn't very loud.

    The Surface Pro 3 comes in five configurations, which differ quite a bit in price. The entry-level model contains an i3, 64GB SSD and 4GB RAM. The main thing to watch out for with this model is storage, as 64GB isn't much, and that's not counting the space Windows takes up. You can use microSD cards to expand storage, but running software from SD cards is not optimal, as the SSD is far, far faster.

    The models go all the way up to an i7 with a 512GB SSD and 8GB RAM. Personally I purchased an i5, 256GB SSD with 8GB RAM and I am very happy with it. Microsoft do offer a student discount on this device, which is 10%, and saved me a little over £100.
    You will of course see performance differences going from i3 to i7 and they have price differences to reflect this - I feel like an i5 version is a good middle-ground, and I think a 128GB SSD is minimum for a laptop replacement really.

    This device is very different to a traditional laptop. Who is it aimed at? As a Physics student, I feel it fits me perfectly. The pen is amazing for doing all my math work in tablet mode, and I can make spreadsheets and use MATLAB with the keyboard on the desktop. For me, this is far easier than carrying notebooks, textbooks AND a laptop - it all adds up in weight and takes a lot of space. Now I just carry this, which weighs nothing and takes up very little space.

    So, why should you buy Surface Pro 3 instead of a laptop? There are plenty of laptops that will give you better gaming performance, but they are also bulky, loud and heavy. Surface is intended to encourage productivity. This isn't a gaming device. Sure, you can play some low-end games, but it's not really meant for that. It's supposed to be used to take notes in lectures, capture your thoughts in the night, be there to create word documents, play about in Photoshop, manipulate matrices in MATLAB, browse the web - it's supposed to condense your laptop and tablet into one amazing package, and if that's what you're looking for, there is no better device to take on that role, and there is no portable computer I would rather own.
     
  2. raqball

    raqball Active Member

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    Nice review.
     
  3. malberttoo

    malberttoo Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well done!
     
  4. unruledboy

    unruledboy Active Member

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    i have to add, it is great for software development, using 3 visual studio at the same time no problems.

    .net developers should own one~
     
    mahdi75 likes this.
  5. ctitanic

    ctitanic Well-Known Member

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    Excellent review!:cool:
     
  6. eltos_lightfoot

    eltos_lightfoot Active Member

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    Great review!
     
  7. InspectHerGadget

    InspectHerGadget Active Member

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    My only concern on mine is with the pen. It seems to work better in some ways on the SP2. It is quicker to recognise my palm resting on the screen and doesn't occasionally write unintended things. I think it cuts both ways. The SP3 design results in less parallax error but the active screen rather than an active pen, is I think better. I look at the handwriting and in some ways it is better on the SP3 but also there is more variation in line width, which is unintended. If you look at the handwriting it definitely looks smoother on the SP2, no doubt about it.

    In other ways, the SP3 is invariably superior. Fortunately I only handwrite with it rather than do detailed art work. I would recommend to a prospective buyer to thoroughly test this feature if possible before buying the SP3.

    If I had the choice, JUST for handwriting, I would choose the SP2.
     
  8. Liam2349

    Liam2349 Active Member

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    I'm glad you guys like it, hopefully it will help people to understand what Surface is about.

    The writing experience is different. I prefer SP3 as the writing is more accurate, also because of the bigger display. My only complaint is that SP3 requires more pressure than SP2 in order to write.

    Perhaps complaint isn't the right word. It doesn't bother me and I adjusted to it quite quickly. It's due to the default pressure curve, and MS said they will release software to allow you to create your own pressure curve which should help with this for the people it distracts.
     
  9. ~X.T.~

    ~X.T.~ Member

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    Excellent review OP, I'm an engineering undegrad and share your exact thoughts on the SP3!

    Regarding the higher activation pressure for the Surface Pen, I like it just fine as I've always put a lot of pressure when writing (I like my lines dark and even). Always found the Wacom digitizers too sensitive for my style of writing.
     
  10. Liam2349

    Liam2349 Active Member

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    I think the pressure is something I can deal with either way. I think I probably adjusted to writing with less force on SP2, and am now back to pressing a bit harder.

    The pen experience really is amazing for that math work, and sketches of problems.
     
  11. sean99

    sean99 New Member

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    That is a welcome review, indeed, Liam. My quandary is, after reading (too) many technical reviews, I am undecided whether to spend my budget on a Surface 3 , or the entry level Pro 4. I'm retired, so my needs are quite basic: Emailing, preparing leases, sending photo attachments, downloading audio and video. I don't need it for gaming, graphics, Photoshopping, etc. Here in Thailand, the Pro 4 entry level is $1,000 without the type case. I'd really appreciate guidance, as the Pro
     
  12. leeshor

    leeshor Well-Known Member

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    Welcome aboard Sean.
    Liam's last post was over a year ago so you may not get much of a response from him. Personally I favor the SP4 but you probably could do all of what you need as you stated on the Surface 3 without problems.
     
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