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Microsoft Surface Pro 3: My First 2 Weeks
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Johnnythegeek
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Johnnythegeek,
User Rank: Strategist
6/7/2014 | 8:10:07 AM
Surface not for me
While the first couple weeks were great. I wonder how long before you realize the limitations of any tablet?

The reduced storage, the lack of many ports, the fact that almost any problem internally will require the Surface be sent out for repair. When I buy a laptop, or any computer device, I expect that it will have to provide me with good service over the course of 3 years plus. Not become sluggish with under performaing hardware, develop a crisis with storage with no real local solution for adding more. Its why I have been skeptical of a tablet solution.

Very much like the iPad I have witnessed plenty of iPad users develop a disenchantment with it over time. Apps become slow, web pages load slower and the need for the next new model become a requirement. 

Since any tablet has no upgrade options, your only option for old hardware rot is to replace with the next model. 

My laptop has outlasted 3 iPad models my friends have replaced, and they are now just realizing that a tablet may not be the most economical device in the long term. 

I bought a Chromebook to complement my laptop in times I need only a browser or am traveling and will require only email checks, and occasional directions or obtaining useful information from the web. 

I spent $200 on a Chromebook and for a second device I can say if it develops hardware rot, I can say the price was not too steep to just recycle it. 

For me a Surface Pro 3 could not replace a laptop, and its price is too steep for a second device. I think Microsoft has another dud on its hands. It has played itself into a very limiting factor of price over function. 
anon5887855047
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anon5887855047,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/7/2014 | 8:44:27 AM
Re: Surface not for me
I will definitely get this when it comes out!! 


Been waiting for Microsoft to improve on Surface Pro 1 & 2.. and get this table thin.  They probably should phase out RT and also have a smaller tablet then this one..

I have an iPad that I never used, gave it to my daughter - she played games on.. I think everybody's been waiting for a tablet/laptop that people can get work done on.  This should do well in the corporate workplace.


Yeah!! I am in!

 
ctitanic
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ctitanic,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/7/2014 | 8:50:35 AM
Re: Surface not for me
Johnny, you have some valid points. But... Before the iPads and the simplistic concept of tablet introduced by Apple there were TabletPCs. The Surface PRO 3 is the best TabletPC ever built. TabletPCs due to their high price partially due to the inclusion of an extra input method named an active digitizer from Wacom were devices targeting a specific market sector with specific needs. There is not a better tool in the hands of a doctor visiting patients in a hospital than a TabletPC. And this is just one of the scenarios where TabletPCs are just a lot better than an iPad or a notebook. For those that never have valued the use of a good digital pen it's difficult to see or comprehend the potential of this type of machines. The PRO 3 is cheap compared to the price of TabletPCs.

You are concern about repairing a Surface PRO 3. Well, then you should be concerned about repairing an iPad or any of the Tablets in the market. All of them have been built in a way that opening them to be repaired is a task for a professional for sure no for the average user. And if you compare Microsoft support to the support of many of other companies such as Toshiba, Lenovo, Sony, etc. and these are brand names that I have experience with, Microsoft is not at the bottom of the lost. Their Tech Support is not that bad to be a concern.

For those looking for a Tablet where you can really work on it, here is a Surface PRO 3. 
LarryY615
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LarryY615,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/7/2014 | 9:31:47 AM
Re: Surface not for me
I think these things are the best choice for college students as a primary device and if targeted correctly would sell like hot cakes. Hand written notes have been proven to be better for the learner than typing because of some funky hand-brain coordination thing, and writing in OneNote can be searched so is more useful than paper. And it backs up to the cloud... no losing it. You can link to other pages (cross referncing times 5), add pictures... link to other files. It's pretty cool, really. Plus students get 10% off, at least right now, so the 128 gb i5 model with a type cover comes to about $1000. That's a pretty big market.

I already have a pretty beefy laptop, even more decked out than the most expensive surface, but i'm still thinking of getting the cheapest to use as an electronic notebook for science.
Paul987
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Paul987,
User Rank: Strategist
6/7/2014 | 10:34:43 AM
Re: Surface not for me
"While the first couple weeks were great. I wonder how long before you realize the limitations of any tablet?"

While I agree with your basic premise - that limitations and compromises can take time to be fully realized, I think many of your complaints are illegitimate:

Repairability is not a common feature on almost any device these days.  I share a somewhat dubious view of internal batteries, but I acknowledge their necessity for packaging a system as small as the Surface or modern Ultrabooks.  As far as general repairabiltiy, no system sold today can be opened for repair without voiding it's warranty, many are designed in a way that makes it difficult to impossible, and finally, there's little to nothing inside modern computers that can be repaired at all, at least by the average person.  

Upgradability is also not common, in normal notebooks and certainly not in ultrabooks.  At most, you might be able to upgrade a hard/ssd drive or increase system memory on a larger notebook, but not generally on an ultrabook.  So the Surface doesn't introduce any trends that haven't already been, and to an extent, have to be, accepted in the pursuit of the smallest of form factors.  And while it is imperative that you purchase the system with future needs in mind, the ubiquity of home networking and the availability of inexpensive network attached storage products makes storing large amounts of data on the device itself largely unnecessary.  Personally, I have over 5 terabytes of storage on my home network, regularly deal with enormous files (1 to 3 gig Photoshop files), and I've yet to reach the 50% mark on my 256 gig Surface Pro 2.  You have to be considerate to what you need to carry on the system, but again, this isn't a foreign concept on any ultra portable system today.

Lack of ports is a limitation, and one the Surface particularly suffers from.  While it would be nice to have another USB port and maybe an Ethernet port, in my 6+ months with the Surface Pro 2, I haven't found either to be an issue.  The only USB devices I've attached to mine was a wireless mouse receiver and a memory card reader, and the purchase of a bluetooth mouse would eliminate one of those.

The issue of hardware becoming sluggish over time is largely baseless.  People are commonly enamored with the fact that they can hold a quad-core smartphone in the palm of their hands, but the fact is that mobile devices (smartphone and smartphone-based tablets) are worlds apart from the performance you get out of a real x86 processor.  While a smartphone/tablet of 2-3 years ago may indeed start running into issues running current apps, that's more due to their inherently limited performance and the infancy of the entire platform.  Real x86 based processors have headroom smartphones/tablets can only dream of, Windows has actually become far better at managing resources than in the past, and again, due to it's PC class components, there's little reason to think the Surface won't be able to run Windows 9, 10 and beyond - unlike smartphones/tablets which might see one or two OS upgrades before support is abandoned.   

I think a lot of the faults you and others lob at the Surface are based on a blatantly unrealistic position - you want it to be *absolutely* everything that a notebook is and/or *absolutely* everything that a tablet is.  If you need those absolutes, the Surface simply isn't the right device for you.  Straddling such different form factors inherently requires some compromises, and the Surface Pro strikes an overall very good balance.  Again, if you can not accept any of those compromises, it doesn't make the Surface a bad product, it simply makes it one not suited to your needs.  

As I eluded, I've had the Pro 2 for 6+ months now, and I've found it to be as close to the perfect portable system as I could realistically hope for.  I didn't want or need what a full notebook provides (physical keyboard, large screen, etc), and yet I needed more than a smartphone-based tablet was capable of, and the Surface Pro has been exactly that.  I've not run into any of the issues you raise and my satisfaction with the device has actually increased over time.  Some of the features of the Pro 3 are nice, but I have no desire to upgrade as the 2 is serving my needs perfectly well, and I have no reason to suspect it won't continue to do so for the next 2 to 3 years at least.  
toraji40
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toraji40,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/8/2014 | 4:43:52 PM
Re: Surface not for me
@paul987,

 

WOW Paul what a good reply and full of valid points. your reply made want to say thank you for re-educating some of us...

 

Here are my two cents:

I am working as an information manager for a government institution and take care about 75 people's devices so i had my fare share of arguments about what is good, bad and better :)

For years I have been waiting for Microsoft to come out with a tablet form device and finally in October 2012 the RT arrived so I was in line at the Microsoft store the day it was released and went home happy as a kid with my new purchase. Even though it was just an ARM device (which of course i knew) it fitted my needs perfectly, then the pro came in February 2013 and because my experience with the RT was that good I had no doubt of wanting the pro so my rt went to my GF and i had the pro. The pro was a big step up from the RT in terms of power and productivity but i was not so happy with the battery life (my only complaint btw) so when the pro 2 came out in October 2013 I had to have it (8/256G) and when the pro 3 i7 8/256 comes out in august i will have that one too (I pre ordered it already :-). I forgot to mention that while owning the RT and using windows 8 I also decided to go with windows phone 8 because the ecosystem works very well together over all devices and also here i had a few devices, Lumia 810, Lumia 925, Lumia 1020 and the Lumia 1520.....

Why do I share all this info? Not to show of but to let the readers here know that every/all devices will be better over time and I am just happy that Microsoft and Nokia take the feedback from their clients serious and listens....

Can't wait for the pro 3 :-)

Regards

t

 

 

TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
6/10/2014 | 1:21:07 PM
Re: Surface not for me
Gee, the government has a better IT budget than I would have imagined if you can dump the first Pro for Pro 2, and now move right on to Pro 3 because it is here.

I got an original Pro for use by people who need to travel sometimes (vacations) but have desktop computer, which includes myself. Runs all software that our Win 7 standard environment runs, joins AD domain, participates in our RADIUS wireless company wide standard and runs both the Cisco and Juniper VPN clients to connect to our private network anywhere there is internet. And has Remote Desktop client to connect to your work desktop over this VPN connection.

Nothing Pro 2 or Pro 3 offer are more useful above these original requirements which led me to try the Pro. I'll be using that thing until it dies.
BillP212
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BillP212,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/7/2014 | 12:51:30 PM
Re: Surface not for me
Johnnythegeek, your comments about the gradual slowdown of tablets is right on but I would suggest it also applies to desktops and laptops.  My home office has five Windows machines of varying makes and OS versions (XP, W7), all with at least 500GB drives and 4GB of RAM.  Yet they all have been gradually deteriorating in performance over the years (Might be a result of some of my downloads but that's another story!).  Our two iPads are a joke, one is gathering dust, the other my wife uses on the road for Facebook, Google and email....period.

I think the Surface Pro 3 can be a great laptop replacement but the cost is high.  I think I will wait for a few months, see how prices come down along with possible enhancements.  But I am definitely going to replace at least one desktop with a Surface and use it on the road as well.
Paul987
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Paul987,
User Rank: Strategist
6/7/2014 | 1:29:29 PM
Re: Surface not for me
"comments about the gradual slowdown of tablets is right on but I would suggest it also applies to desktops and laptops"


Agreed that it's an issue that effects most every system.  But on the other hand, a lot of what makes mobile OS based tablets obsolete so quickly is due to 2 things:

1- the modest hardware capabilities - a quad-core mobile processor is simply NOT the equal of even a singe or dual core x86 processor in terms of absolute performance.  Desktop/laptop class processors have far greater performance, and therefore headroom, to handle the weight of more and more installed applications.

And 2- Mobile OSs and apps are really in their infancy.  Each new OS version brings new capabilities, and new apps take advantages of those new capabilities.  This inherently leads to a situation where a device of only 1-2 years old can have trouble running the latest OSs and apps.  This is far less of an issue with desktop-class processors and operating systems since the requirements and capabilities are long since established and little changing.  

As for your office desktops, as much as Windows 8 has been derided (somewhat deservedly), it has made significant improvements in maintaining performance.  I have several systems running it since it's release, and none show signs of slowing down.  I make a reasonable effort to avoid installing everything I come across, but I evaluate any programs that look like they might be of use.  Furthermore, Windows 8 now provides a restore function that will return a system to a newly installed state without any of the hassle of manually re-installing an OS and related drivers.

The price if the Surface line is definitely high, but not terribly so when compared to other ultra-portable systems of near the same build quality.  I'm not sure you'll find prices dropping in the coming months though.  If the SP2 is any indication, they kept production low enough that there's little to no unsold stock to try to get rid of by lowering prices.  Aside from the 512 gig version, all SP2 models have been out of stock for a while now, and will probably remain so.   The same will likely be true of the SP3.  
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/10/2014 | 2:31:16 PM
Re: Surface not for me
@johnny,

Unfortunate but interesting that your friends have had such bad luck with their iPads. I've definitely seen iPhones slow to a crawl after a few years, but in my experience, iPads have fared a bit better. Refresh rates  suggest people replace iPads on more PC-like (rather than smartphone-like) cycles. But your point remains: Some people get 5+ years of productive life out of their PCs, and it remains to be seen if tablets and hybrids provide the some long-term value. Some people are still running XP on 10-year-old computers. I'll be surprised if a similar numer of iPad Airs are still in use a decade from now. With tablets and hybrids, whatever you gain in portability and sleek aesthetics, you lose in DIY repairability and upgradability.

OneDrive provides a little relief for the storage concerns you cite, though I'll concede that the cloud is a limited solution. If you end up needing external storage, that lone USB port gets a little limiting. You could go for the Surface Docking Station, of course, which gives you more flexibility for peripherals. Microsoft is building a modular ecosystem around the Surface Pro, with the tablet as the starting point, then the keyboards, then the docking station. They've done a decent job so far providing backward compatibility, meaning if you upgrade the tablet every two or three years, you could still have a three-in-one set-up with replacing all your accessories. But as I alluded in the article, this sort of hybrid approach is both empowering and limiting, depending on your needs.

I think the Surface Pro 3 will be the most successful Surface Pro to date, and that it will become very popular in certain industries. It's a very nice laptop, but it's most interesting for its uniqueness. You can do things with it you couldn't do with earlier Surfaces. Whether you want to do those things is a different matter. Some people – a lot, I think - will. But many people will ultimately prefer clamshell laptops, or iPads, or whatever—so lots of those devices are going to continue to get sold too.
SfkdslfS419
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SfkdslfS419,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/7/2014 | 10:44:28 AM
Way too expensive for a table, way too weak for a power laptop
This device firmly lives in a no-man's-land, gathering in itself many of the disadvantages of a tablet and many of those of a laptop. Probably the opposite of what MS wanted. MS still has to understand that tablets and power laptops have different, and largely non-intersecting, markets.
celticlandcom
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celticlandcom,
User Rank: Strategist
6/7/2014 | 11:27:30 AM
Re: Way too expensive for a table, way too weak for a power laptop
So an i5 or and i7 with 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD is not a powerfull laptop??!? I would say it would satisfy 95% of users.

I work in IT I preordered and will use it fot IT work, CAD/CAFM troubleshooting and some LR work....

 

 
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/10/2014 | 2:49:09 PM
Re: Way too expensive for a table, way too weak for a power laptop
@celtic,

I agree. I wouldn't call the Surface Pro 3 underpowered any more than I'd called the iPad Air (a laptop for which there is a demonstrated market) underpowered.

If you want something approaching desktop-class power in a portable form factor, you won't find it in anything as thin or light as a Pro 3—that much is true. A 15-inch MacBook Pro will handle more than the Pro 3, but it's also much larger and heavier. Both Apple and Microsoft use "Pro," but they're talking to somewhat different markets. There's a reason Microsoft keeps comparing the Surface Pro 3 to the MacBook Air.

Granted, I haven't used the i3-based Surface Pro 3. It might struggle with some tasks. The demo unit has an i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM, and unless you need to do substantial post work on 4K video or something, it will do the job. I think the number of people who can make use of the Pro 3's unique traits will outnumber the number of people who find it underpowered. I think consumer skepticism over the Modern UI is a bigger potential problem than the Pro 3's processors.
Paul987
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Paul987,
User Rank: Strategist
6/7/2014 | 1:02:23 PM
Re: Way too expensive for a table, way too weak for a power laptop
"MS still has to understand that tablets and power laptops have different, and largely non-intersecting, markets."

And you still have yet to understand that an under served market exists precisely in between tablets and laptops.  You, and people who share your opinion, continue to expect the Surface to fit into existing product categories.  It doesn't, shouldn't, won't, and was never meant to.

If someone wants a "power laptop", they should be buying a "power laptop", not an ultra-portable tablet/laptop hybrid.  And the Surface Pros are anything but weak.  They're not desktop/workstation or even "power laptop" class, but for a <2lb ultra-portable, they're quite powerful.  I've done real, relatively high-end, *paying* Photoshop work on mine.

If you want a pickup truck, you don't buy an SUV.  It's as simple as that.  The Surface Pro isn't for someone who *specifically* wants a laptop and all it's unique properties.  The Surface Pro isn't for someone who *specifically* wants a tablet and all it's unique properties.  

Personally, mobile OS based tablets are of no use to me since their capabilities are so limited.  At the same time, I have little to no need for significant typing, so the bulk of a laptop/ultrabook's clamshell design is undesirable.  The Surface Pro is perfectly positioned to offer most of the power of a laptop with most of the portability of a tablet.  

So it's not the right device for you, thankfully, there's any number of dedicated "power laptops" and dedicated tablets you can choose from.  For my needs, the few compromises the Surface Pro requires are vastly outweighed by the advantages of having 90% of the capabilities of a laptop in a device 90% as portable as a tablet.  

Microsoft exactly gets the market the Surface Pro was designed for, it's you that doesn't.  
FritzJ931
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FritzJ931,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/7/2014 | 1:50:47 PM
Re: Way too expensive for a table, way too weak for a power laptop
For everyone that says its too expensive to be a tablet, I openly request that you show me a decently priced lap top, and a tablet. The total of the two must no be more expensive then the Surface 3 which is roughly 899 with the 950 with the keyboard. The tablet and the laptop must have that great build quality both must ofer +7hrs of use and. a screen to match the experience. Also they must be able to use the counless amount of windows applications an have a decent app store. No atom processors also. I know its impossible to find. Maybe if you use the top end Surface 3 you may find two devices that wont be as expensive as one Surface 3, but remember the top of the line is a i7, and your wiill end up carrying two devices to make up the one surface 3.
asdmognep
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asdmognep,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/10/2014 | 2:12:03 AM
a bit too much here and too little there
The Pro may be good or better than a regular tablet, but for a tablet it is EXPENSIVE. Gallaxy is much cheaper.

For a laptop replacement it is too slow, and a popular brand laptop can be found cheaper.

For a reader, it is too big and heavy to carry around, a simple cheap tablet will do.

So what do we need MicroSlop's pro for? to impress our neighbor? I'll save my money for a holiday trip instead.
CdsN309
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CdsN309,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/15/2014 | 2:41:27 AM
Re: a bit too much here and too little there
slow? you have to be joking!

i own a surface pro (original) and it is ten times faster than my Acer laptop. I cant even imagine how fast the pro 3 would be.

 
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
6/10/2014 | 6:00:27 PM
Have you used it again?
Michael,

Since you filed this story, have you found yourself going back to use the Surface again, either for work or play? Or were you only motivated to use it while you were working on this review? Just curious whether you found yourself drawn to go back to it or happy to be done with it.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/10/2014 | 6:24:13 PM
Re: Have you used it again?
Hi David,


Great question. I'm still using it quite often. Earlier Surfaces quickly became niche options that I only used for very specific scenarios. It was clear pretty quickly that the compromises would be deal-breaking.  But with the Pro 3, I've found that compromises rear their heads less frequently, and that when they do, I'm much more forgiving. In laptop mode, sure, sometimes I'd like a bigger screen, but the overall mobility and light weight make it worthwhile. And the size is just write for note-taking and drawing. With the Pro 3, I feel encouraged to find more ways to use the device, rather than, as was the case with early models, quickly confining the tablet to specific uses. It might be worth noting, though, that I'm using the Surface Pro 3 at the expense of a Windows laptop. It hasn't really affected my iPad use.

Granted, if I had access to any device I wanted, I'd probably use a MacBook Pro, if for no other reason than I run a lot of video software. The extra processor power, bigger RAM capacity and discrete graphics card would win out over the Pro 3's slim design and undeniably cool pen. But everyone has a dream product, the products they're happy using, the products they'll unenthusiastically accept, and the products they'll resent being forced to use. I'm more than happy using the Pro 3. Great, light laptop, and the note-taking experience could offer legit sales appeal.
anon4859386935
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anon4859386935,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 2:13:50 PM
surface pro 3
hi there....i am going to buy surface pro 3 for my university purpose...for making presentations and assignments...is this a good device for my purpose...if it disappoints me...???plz tell
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/9/2014 | 8:10:28 PM
Re: surface pro 3
It definitely can be. It depends a bit what kind of presentations you do, how you like to work, how much processing power you might want for more demanding apps and gaming. Depending on the gear you'll work with at school, you might be able to wirelessly mirror your Surface Pro 3 to projectors and displays, which is handy for presentations. But you can do that with MacBooks too, again, provided the right gear is there. But as far as lightweight laptops go, the Surface Pro 3 is very, very nice, assuming you're okay with the kickstand instead of a traditional clamshell. The difference doesn't really bother me, but I'm tall, so I have a lot of lap on which to position the kickstand. The Pen is a great perk with potential.

My advice is to seek out an actual model and handle it yourself. If there's a Microsoft Store, or a Best Buy, or a friend who has one, make sure you hold the device in your hand, see how it handles, etc. It's an unconventional device. For some people, it will be very satisfying, but for others, it will be hard to ignore the ways it isn't a normal laptop or tablet.


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