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Surface 3 for Photography Travel (4gb RAM, 128gb SSD version)


I have been looking for a small, light, but sufficiently powerful, device to take on photography trips, to store, review my Raw DSLR files, back them up, etc. I've used a fairly large/heavy HP Laptop in the past for this, but wanted a more portable solution.

Well, I've had my Surface 3 for a couple of days, and thought I'd report on my experience. Overall, I'm quite impressed, and I think this is going to work fine for me. This is the 4gb RAM, 128gb SSD version. And again, this is the newer/smaller Surface 3, not the larger, more powerful, Surface Pro 3.

The size and weight are excellent. Only a little larger than my wife's Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. Very usable as a tablet, with or without the keyboard. The screen is just fine - bright, colors reasonably accurate, resolution perfect for a 10.8" display. Keyboard is reasonable for its size; I'm rapidly getting used to typing on it.

It's taken some time to get used to Windows 8.1 - where things are, how to get around, adjust settings, etc. But it seems well suited to a touch-screen, so things are doing fine. It is responsive, quick; can't complain.

As far as working with my Canon 1D Mark IV CR2 files, everything is looking good. First, the native file system is capable of displaying the embedded jpeg, and so even using Windows Explorer, and the built-in Photo App, I can just look at the files full-screen, zoom in with my fingers, etc. No adjustments can be made to the Raw file, obviously, but even without any other apps or programs, one could quickly go through your images once on the device, to eliminate ones that are obviously not worth keeping.

I next tried FastRawViewer (http://www.fastrawviewer.com/). Once I got used to the interface, and tweaked some settings, I have found that this works wonderfully. No lag to speak of in viewing or working on images. It can be configured to preview full-screen, and using keyboard shortcuts (which I love - much more precise and quick than using the touch screen or mouse), I can tweak exposure, white balance, zoom in/out, move to the next image, delete, etc. (Note: it can be configured so that deleting moves the files to a 'rejected' folder, which is cleared separately. Gives you a little protection in case you accidentally delete an image you want).

Any exposure/white balance tweaks you make are stored in an .xmp file, which can then be used and read by Adobe Camera Raw. This program seems to be perfectly suited for my purposed - quick and efficient way to review my photos, deleting what I don't want, with a little tweaking of exposure.

I next installed Photoshop CS6, and was pleasantly surprised to find that this also works just fine. I'd use this to play around with selected images as need be. It shows perhaps slight lag when zooming in and out, tweaking the image settings, but really minimally so. Almost as good as my desktop in terms of preparing preview images (although my desktop is a somewhat older Dell XPS 630i).

My 500gb Seagate Expansion 3.0 drive ran fine when plugged into the S3's USB 3.0 port - no external power was needed. I had an Ethernet/USB adapter, which also worked fine to hardwire it to my network.

So basically, I'm pretty happy with this at this point. I guess I might run into problems as I use it more, but so far, so good. Interestingly, I went to the Microsoft Store, and was surprised when they said they'd match the Costco price of $699 for the S3, TypeCover, and Pen (about an $80 savings).