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First impressions & problems with the SP3

scfoster

Member
I'm very pleased so far with the physical characteristics of the Pro 3. Much more refined than the Pro 2. Slimming down the thickness makes a WORLD of difference for portability from meeting to meeting. The Pro 2 was just too thick, so the frequency of leaving it behind at the desk increased over time. I don't think that will be the case with the Pro 3. Time will tell.

Please don't flame me but if only Apple OSX was married to this hardware I'd be in heaven. I'm not an Apple zealot (swapped the iPhone for a Samsung Note 2 then 3) but there is something to being able to purchase a Macbook Air, turn it on for the first time and start using it in about 3-5 minutes. I'm typing this on the Macbook Air as Windows on the Surface is going through yet ANOTHER update-download-restart. I know it's Windows which has nothing to do with the Pro 3 hardware, but it does impact the experience.

That said the type cover is a huge improvement for the Pro 3. I didn't think being able to have a slope to the keyboard would make any difference but it does. Wrist ergonomics I guess. The trackpad is better as well.
 

Odyssey

Member
I'm very pleased so far with the physical characteristics of the Pro 3. Much more refined than the Pro 2. Slimming down the thickness makes a WORLD of difference for portability from meeting to meeting. The Pro 2 was just too thick, so the frequency of leaving it behind at the desk increased over time. I don't think that will be the case with the Pro 3. Time will tell.

Please don't flame me but if only Apple OSX was married to this hardware I'd be in heaven. I'm not an Apple zealot (swapped the iPhone for a Samsung Note 2 then 3) but there is something to being able to purchase a Macbook Air, turn it on for the first time and start using it in about 3-5 minutes. I'm typing this on the Macbook Air as Windows on the Surface is going through yet ANOTHER update-download-restart. I know it's Windows which has nothing to do with the Pro 3 hardware, but it does impact the experience.

That said the type cover is a huge improvement for the Pro 3. I didn't think being able to have a slope to the keyboard would make any difference but it does. Wrist ergonomics I guess. The trackpad is better as well.

I was waiting for Apple to announce a MacBook Air with Retina at WWDC to potentially purchase that instead of the SP3. But alas, you can't have everything :)

I'm surprisingly enjoying the lap experience with the SP3. I'm accustomed to using a laptop in my lap, and the rigidity of the new type cover makes it pretty comfortable to type on. The touchpad is also eons better than before.

I'm also using the SP3 without the keyboard (ie. in tablet mode) more often now. I would never feel comfortable hold the SP2 in one hand, but I actually find the SP3 more tablet-like than before, and with a BIGGER screen! :O
 

fonzman78

Active Member
Here are my first impressions.

1. Setup was simple with a few glitches. I was at a local Starbucks and using my MiFi for internet connection. My pen was not recognized at first and I got stuck on trying to validate my Live account. So I had to do a hard reset about 4 times since the setup would not go past the 'verifying account'. I thought I had a bum unit but after the fourth fail, I did another reset and also reset my MiFi. Not sure what happened but this fixed everything. I was able to complete the setup.

2. I opted to restore from my latest Spro2 backup and it worked like a charm. All my Apps, settings, and background came back and my brand new SP3 was just like my SPro2 (RIP). The only things that did not come back, obviously, are any Programs I had installed. I will take time today to install Office, iTunes (yes, iTunes), Steam, etc.

3. I had doubts about the SP3 being larger. I played with it some at the MS Store and I still wasn't totally convinced. But, now after playing with it continuously, I really like the size. The screen is larger than the SPro2 so you can view much more. While I really liked my SPro2, being able to have a larger view is nice. When I go back to smaller screen (on my RT since my SPro2 is sold), I feel cramped and limited. You will get spoiled having the larger screen.

4. The larger screen is beautiful. Movies and pictures look great. I didn't have any issues going to desktop YouTube to watch clips. I watched a 20 min XBox One vs PS4 video in full screen without any glitches. I did not experience any warming and the fans did not come on at all. To date, I have not heard the fans comes on at all. But, I stall have some gaming to do, which leads to #5.

5. I'm a die hard gamer. The SP3 will not replace my gaming rig. No way, no chance, never. But with the larger screen, I can now take better advantage of Steam's streaming option. On my Spro2, it was nice but cramped. With the SP3, I get a full sized gaming screen. AWESOME!!! Plus, since the game is streaming from my gaming rig, I get all the high end video capabilities that just aren't possible on the SP3's video card. Plus, with streaming, I'm only using the SP3 as a window to view/play the game. The SP3 isn't processing anything so the fans do not come on. Win/Win.

6. The pen works great. I've used it in OneNote and with Fresh Paint. So far, I haven't had any issues but I haven't really tested it yet. Next week wild be the test as I will have my SP3 in several meetings. As for taking notes, I must admit that, again, having a larger screen is ideal. When used in portrait mode, it does feel like having a legal notepad. With my SPro2, I only used it in landscape mode since portrait mode felt awkward. This gave me limited writing space. With the SP3, it now feels much more natural when writing.

7. The top button on the pen does bring up Metro version of OneNote with a single click. I also like that this works when the SP3 is off and that it bypasses my password login. Now, rather than turning on my Surface, waiting for it to come on, getting the login screen, logging in, and then launching OneNote, this all happens with a single click on the pen. Talk about simplicity. Can't wait till my next business meeting. A double click of the top button will either open a new page in OneNote if you are already in OneNote or will take a screenshot which you can paste into your OneNote page. I haven't tried saving the screenshot or pasting into another type of document. Not sure if that is possible.

8. The keyboard is similar to the Type 2 keyboard. It has the same feel and typing on it is the same for me. As others have reported, when magnetically attached to the SP3, it does have some flex to it and it does make swiping from the bottom hard/next to impossible. But, I can opt not to attach it or just simply swipe from the top. The touchpad is superior to the other Type/Touch keyboards. Two finger scrolling and pinch to zoom work perfectly. Single and double finger taps for single/double click works. I abandoned using the touchpad with my SPro2 in favor a mouse but I can now say that you will really like using the touchpad on the SP3. Last, the Wireless Keyboard adapter does work with the new keyboard but with a serious glitch. With the adapter on, you can't use the touchpad for two finger scrolling or pinch to zoom. I think this is a problem with the SP3 itself and not the keyboard as this worked with when I paired the new keyboard with a SPro2. I hope there will be a fix soon.

9. Bluetooth pairing works for me. I have been able to pair my MS Sculpture mouse and my wireless keyboard adapter all without any issues. My pen didn't pair right out of the box but that may have been something I did wrong. Everything works now.

10. Wireless connections also work. To date, I haven't had lost any wireless connection. I've connected to home, MiFi, Starbucks, Paradise Café, and a few others without any problems at all. Of course, after only 1.5 days, it's hard to tell how this will keep up.

That's it for now. I don't do any benchmarks or stress testing. That's not my thing. Personally, I don't use my SP3 for heavy duty work loads so I don't care too much about speeds and feeds. My Surface devices were all meant to complement my home/gaming rig. If my SP3 can do what I need, then I am happy.
 

MickeyLittle

Active Member
So, I've spent about 8 hrs on my SP3 and there are couple of small noticeable problems and differences when compared to the SP2.

I thought I'd share my findings and tips with the rest of you, and maybe someone can point out a solution to some of the problems that I have.

1) Update to firmware 140619 as soon as you get the device- machine seems to run much quieter and no more problems when waking up from sleep while running desktop programs. (it also feels like the charging goes faster, but I might just be wrong).

2) The pen has couple of glitches- sometimes you have to press really hard to register an input. Sometimes, the pointer disappears for a moment. (The machine comes with an outdated N-trig driver with tons of problems on wintab related desktop programs. Pressure sensitivity does not work on major programs such as Photoshop CS5, SAI, Corel). N-trig did release a new firmware to address some of these issues a couple of days ago, but their website is down(Wintab - N-trig), and I'm hoping the eventual driver update fixes some of these glitches. On a sidenote, the edge tracking seems much better than the SP2.

3) The pen holder has an extremely tight fit, and if you're not careful you can rip the attachment right off the keyboard (you can always just super-glue it back on).

4) Streaming videos off sites that use flash on desktop mode takes huge performance hit (youtube, twitch, etc). Trying to playback fullHD content off flash ramps up the fan to the point where the fan noise interferes with the audio. Seems to be fine in Metro.


5) The windows button on the right is annoying- unless you're a lefty, you keep accidentally pressing the capacitive button.

6) Thin body with less exhaust vents and a tiny "silent" fan means the device gets really really hot. I was running CoreTemp for about an hour during HDstreaming, CPU temperature was around mid 50'C, highest being 69'C. and this wasn't even a torture test. The device gets much hotter than the SP2 and while the fan doesn't turn on until higher temperatures than the SP2, once it gets going, it's got a really annoying pitch to it.
View attachment 2275

7) Kickstand has a little flex to it, and at 150' you're better off retracting the stand specially when trying to use the pen.

8) Surprisingly, there's not that much free memory left on 4GB model when compared to the SP2. Granted, I'm still only using about 55% of the max mem available so this shouldn't really be a problem.

9) Sliding from bottom when the keyboard's magnet slit is attached is hard, and pressing the icons on start taskbar in desktop use is a little challenging.

[Final Thoughts]

Of course, at this point I'm being really picky with these complaints. SP3 is still a rock solid device that's uver fast(interestingly slower than the SP2) and most importantly is a device that gets the job done. The keyboard seems to be an improvement over the last generation, especially the touchpad. I'm not too sure about ditching wacom for n-trig, but I'll save my opinions on pen-input for now. Screen is amazing but seems to have a little bit of bleeding towards the edges and I honestly can't find the merit in MS's famous "3:2 aspect ratio". I do find it easier on my eyes on portrait mode, but this device is too big and heavy for a tablet-like use anyways. I just hope microsoft addresses some of the issues.

The n-Trig site is up and running now. I just downloaded the 64 bit upgrade and my stylus is 100% better! It is picking up all my writing without having to press hard. I don't feel that I'm writing any differently than with my Wacom pen! Perfect!
 

jedge

Member
The n-Trig site is up and running now. I just downloaded the 64 bit upgrade and my stylus is 100% better! It is picking up all my writing without having to press hard. I don't feel that I'm writing any differently than with my Wacom pen! Perfect!

Awesome, on my way there right now!

Update. Much better when just browsing around in Windows. But to be honest, i am truly impressed with the touch input in Win 8.1. Not just Metro but the Desktop too. It seems almost as precise as the pen!
But it didn't seem to help in OneNote (the full OneNote, i have Office 2013 installed). But there is an option under Advanced to turn off pressure sensitivity while writing. I think if you press hard when writing, it's best to leave it on. But if you have a light touch (like me) it's better to turn it off. At least as far as print. I don't draw much.
Seems like every time i get a new version of OneNote or a new tablet it takes FOREVER to get it set it up just right.
 
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fonzman78

Active Member
5) The windows button on the right is annoying- unless you're a lefty, you keep accidentally pressing the capacitive button.

I'm a lefty so I don't have this problem. I think they have fixed this problem with the latest updates. At least they seem to be fixed when using the pen. I opened OneNote and Fresh Paint and, switching to right hand, I tried really hard to activate the capacitive button while writing or drawing. I mean real hard. I kept writing/drawing on the right edge of the screen with the edge of my palm directly over and moving up and down over the capacitive button without once activating it. Only when I pulled my hand away and then pressed the button did it activate.

Anyone else test this?
 

MickeyLittle

Active Member
I'm a lefty so I don't have this problem. I think they have fixed this problem with the latest updates. At least they seem to be fixed when using the pen. I opened OneNote and Fresh Paint and, switching to right hand, I tried really hard to activate the capacitive button while writing or drawing. I mean real hard. I kept writing/drawing on the right edge of the screen with the edge of my palm directly over and moving up and down over the capacitive button without once activating it. Only when I pulled my hand away and then pressed the button did it activate.

Anyone else test this?

You're right sir... More and more things that are/were issues are dying off! The stylus is rocking and now the palm touching, resting, or even slamming up against the windows button while you write is not an issue!
 

jedge

Member
You're right sir... More and more things that are/were issues are dying off! The stylus is rocking and now the palm touching, resting, or even slamming up against the windows button while you write is not an issue!

I learned quickly, when using the pen for input, the trick is to get it close to the screen and keep it close, that way the palm input is disabled and you don't get a lot of frustrating input. It's not hard, just have to train your hand.
On my previous Win 7 HP Tablets, i always disabled touch input and used the pen exclusively because it was so frustrating. But doing that on the SP3 would be a crime. Touch input in 8.1 Desktop mode is impressively easy.
 
OP
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IlbeRevolution

New Member
[Follow Up]
1) I've downloaded the wintab driver from the N-trig site, and I'm happy to say that most of the glitches are gone and pressure sensitivity works fine in major programs like PS, SAI.
It still has problem on corel where I have to press hard to register an input, but I'm happy with sensitivity on Adobe series. Everyone should get the driver update from N-trig ASAP.

2) Interestingly, while I was testing games on my SP3, I found that the overheating problem only occurs when you're plugged in to the charger.
I also found out that streaming fHD video off flash on websites such as youtube and twitch without being plugged in doesn't crank the fan up.
If you turn on power savings features and turn off performance features while being plugged in, it also keeps the core temp down quite a bit.

All along I thought it was the CPU overheating, but upon thinking about it, I realized that the top right corner of the machine gets really hot when plugged in, and the Chip itself is located near center-left.
I still think this is going to be a problem for gamers like me, who need to stay plugged in, but then again, that's not what surfaces are built for (I still hate the splitting sound that the fan makes. It just drives me crazy).

3) As for gaming, I've tried getting Starcraft II to run at the screen's native resolution but I concluded that it's impossible to find the right aspect ratio on the SP3. You'll see a black bar on top and bottom which confuses me during scrolling screen, but I think I'm getting used to it already.
As for performance difference between SP2 and SP3, I haven't done the actual tests, but from what I'm seeing, there is no noticeable difference between the two:
You cannot run top-end games on native resolution so you'll have to reduce the res down anyways- I never ran BF3 nor Skyrim on my SP2 on native resolution. At 720p low settings, I used to barely get about 30-35fps on BF3 and 25-30fps on skyrim (custom mods).

/so, I was running starcraft 2 at 1280x720 on both SP2 and SP3, which give me pretty much the same FPS of around 50-60 with details low, shader low, no AA, effects low, physics low (onlything turned up was the texture). I did notice the SP2 having slightly more narrower range in max-min FPS discrepncy, but I'm not sure about this.
I guess this is to be expected, as both machines pretty much have the same hardware inside.
I'll have to do a more detailed test to see which SP slightly out-performs the other, but I doubt it's gonna be a noticeable difference. In terms of gaming, whichever games SP2 can run, SP3 can run it as well.

Still, I wouldn't be using SP series for gaming, as they do heat up and the fans were going crazy under load scenerios. Maybe light games like LoL or WoW, but not much more than that.

[Conclusion after Day-1]

For what it's designed for, SP3 is amazing. It's portable, and with the improved typecover it's a portable work house. The build quiality is rock solid as expected.

For note-takers, the pen is an improvement, but for artists I'm not too sure about that.

For SP2 users thinking of upgrading to SP3, I honestly don't see the reason unless you really really desire that extra 1.4 inches of screen real estate.

For gamers and extreme power users, if you're buying SP3 because of the core-i CPU inside, or to run programs that the Baytrail counter-part cannot run, think again. The low power ULV varient inside SP3 is not sufficient for running most recent games. And while the biggest selling point of the SP3 is the core-i series cpu over the baytrail, the SP3 was built for running day-to-day desktop apps for school, work, etc. Once you start pushing the machine under heavy GPU load scenerios, it turns into a hot noisy brick (a very thin one indeed) with 2-3hr battery life at most.

For those thinking of getting SP3 to replace your tablet, I honestly found the SP3 a little too heavy for a normal tablet use. While the 3:2 aspect ratio makes it easier on your eyes on portrait mode, I personally found it a little too bulky and big for one hand use.

For those using MBA, it really depends on the environment. SP3 is IMO the best machine for Windows 8.1 experience. period. I do find that it's "lapability" is still inferior to other ultrabooks out there, but the keyboard has improved a lot since the first generation, and it really comes down to: "lapability" + "Mac experience" VS "Pen and Touch" + "windows experience".

In the end, aside from release issues such as driver problems and adapting period, it's pretty much the same thing we said about the SP2 with the extra improvements. Whether the improvements are worth the upgrade is up to you.
I know I'll be selling my SP2 and keeping the new SP3.
 
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mikeakanice

New Member
[Follow Up]
1) I've downloaded the wintab driver from the N-trig site, and I'm happy to say that most of the glitches are gone and pressure sensitivity works fine in major programs like PS, SAI.
It still has problem on corel where I have to press hard to register an input, but I'm happy with sensitivity on Adobe series. Everyone should get the driver update from N-trig ASAP.

2) Interestingly, while I was testing games on my SP3, I found that the overheating problem only occurs when you're plugged in to the charger.
I also found out that streaming fHD video off flash on websites such as youtube and twitch without being plugged in doesn't crank the fan up.
If you turn on power savings features and turn off performance features while being plugged in, it also keeps the core temp down quite a bit.

All along I thought it was the CPU overheating, but upon thinking about it, I realized that the top right corner of the machine gets really hot when plugged in, and the Chip itself is located near center-left.
I still think this is going to be a problem for gamers like me, who need to stay plugged in, but then again, that's not what surfaces are built for (I still hate the splitting sound that the fan makes. It just drives me crazy).

3) As for gaming, I've tried getting Starcraft II to run at the screen's native resolution but I concluded that it's impossible to find the right aspect ratio on the SP3. You'll see a black bar on top and bottom which confuses me during scrolling screen, but I think I'm getting used to it already.
As for performance difference between SP2 and SP3, I haven't done the actual tests, but from what I'm seeing, there is no noticeable difference between the two:
You cannot run top-end games on native resolution so you'll have to reduce the res down anyways- I never ran BF3 nor Skyrim on my SP2 on native resolution. At 720p low settings, I used to barely get about 30-35fps on BF3 and 25-30fps on skyrim (custom mods).

/so, I was running starcraft 2 at 1280x720 on both SP2 and SP3, which give me pretty much the same FPS of around 50-60 with details low, shader low, no AA, effects low, physics low (onlything turned up was the texture). I did notice the SP2 having slightly more narrower range in max-min FPS discrepncy, but I'm not sure about this.
I guess this is to be expected, as both machines pretty much have the same hardware inside.
I'll have to do a more detailed test to see which SP slightly out-performs the other, but I doubt it's gonna be a noticeable difference. In terms of gaming, whichever games SP2 can run, SP3 can run it as well.

Still, I wouldn't be using SP series for gaming, as they do heat up and the fans were going crazy under load scenerios. Maybe light games like LoL or WoW, but not much more than that.

[Conclusion after Day-1]

For what it's designed for, SP3 is amazing. It's portable, and with the improved typecover it's a portable work house. The build quiality is rock solid as expected.

For note-takers, the pen is an improvement, but for artists I'm not too sure about that.

For SP2 users thinking of upgrading to SP3, I honestly don't see the reason unless you really really desire that extra 1.4 inches of screen real estate.

For gamers and extreme power users, if you're buying SP3 because of the core-i CPU inside, or to run programs that the Baytrail counter-part cannot run, think again. The low power ULV varient inside SP3 is not sufficient for running most recent games. And while the biggest selling point of the SP3 is the core-i series cpu over the baytrail, the SP3 was built for running day-to-day desktop apps for school, work, etc. Once you start pushing the machine under heavy GPU load scenerios, it turns into a hot noisy brick (a very thin one indeed) with 2-3hr battery life at most.

For those thinking of getting SP3 to replace your tablet, I honestly found the SP3 a little too heavy for a normal tablet use. While the 3:2 aspect ratio makes it easier on your eyes on portrait mode, I personally found it a little too bulky and big for one hand use.

For those using MBA, it really depends on the environment. SP3 is IMO the best machine for Windows 8.1 experience. period. I do find that it's "lapability" is still inferior to other ultrabooks out there, but the keyboard has improved a lot since the first generation, and it really comes down to: "lapability" + "Mac experience" VS "Pen and Touch" + "windows experience".

In the end, aside from release issues such as driver problems and adapting period, it's pretty much the same thing we said about the SP2 with the extra improvements. Whether the improvements are worth the upgrade is up to you.
I know I'll be selling my SP2 and keeping the new SP3.
Can you tell me where the power saving features are? I can only find balance.
 

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