Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
6/23/2014
02:45 PM
Michael Endler
Michael Endler
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Why To Buy

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 is finally available. But just because you can replace your laptop with the Surface Pro 3 doesn't mean everyone will want to.

Surface Pro 3 Vs. World: Mobile Smackdown
Surface Pro 3 Vs. World: Mobile Smackdown
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

If you've read any reviews of Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 -- mine included -- you've likely been told it's a device that will appeal to some people, but not to everyone. This raises a question: How are you supposed to know which group you're in?

It's difficult to answer, because there are two distinct angles from which would-be buyers can approach Microsoft's new tablet, which hit stores Friday. Some think of the Pro 3 in terms of other devices. They might ask how it competes as a laptop with the MacBook Air, or whether it's as good a tablet as an iPad. Others look beyond comparisons, because the new Surface is unlike any other device currently available.

[Want to see more on the Surface Pro 3? See Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Visual Tour.]

I'll get to the latter group in a minute, but suffice it to say that, for certain jobs and work styles, the Pro 3's unique traits could be transformative. The former group, which I'll tackle first, is trickier.

Microsoft calls the Pro 3 the tablet that can replace a laptop, which is fair. Thin, light, fairly powerful, and more ergonomically polished than any of its predecessors (if not than any other 2-in-1), the Pro 3 is undeniably a nice laptop. When using earlier Surfaces, I never forgot that I was using a small, cramped, and compromised laptop. With the Pro 3, I don't feel these distractions. I can just work.

But just because you can replace your laptop with the Surface Pro 3 doesn't mean everyone will want to. The device's kickstand-based stability didn't bother me, but the approach is still fundamentally different from the clamshell designs most of us are used to. The difference is minute if you work at a desk, but whether you'll like balancing the Pro 3 on your lap is more subjective.

The Surface Pro 3's infinitely adjustable kickstand provides solid stability, but it's not the same as a clamshell design.
The Surface Pro 3's infinitely adjustable kickstand provides solid stability, but it's not the same as a clamshell design.

The Surface Pro 3's design makes it thinner and lighter than any comparably powerful alternatives, but it's not like many people have criticized the newest Ultrabooks -- let alone the MacBook Air -- as being too thick and heavy. Eventually, thinness hits a point of diminishing returns. Depending on your budget and needs, the Pro 3 might be past that point. Moreover, even if you prioritize sleek form factors, the market will be flush by early next year with even thinner, lighter devices, thanks to Intel's next-generation Broadwell processors.

Ultimately, if someone were to say the Surface Pro 3 is one the best laptops available, I wouldn't quibble -- which is saying something. If anyone tried to similarly lionize the Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2, I'd have called that person crazy. But if people were to say the Pro 3 simply didn't "click" with their needs, I wouldn't quibble with that, either -- especially given the Surface's price.

As a tablet, meanwhile, the Pro 3 is a different animal from an iPad. That hasn't stopped Microsoft execs from making the comparison; when the new Surface was introduced, Microsoft corporate vice president Panos Panay repeatedly juxtaposed it with a MacBook Air and an iPad, implying that the Pro 3 could replace both. This might be true for individual users, but on the whole, it's wishful thinking on Microsoft's part.

Sure, the Pro 3 overlaps in places with the iPad Air, but the devices handle differently and are good at different things. It's easy to draw equivalencies between them now that Office is available on iPads, but from apps to OS to ergonomics, the devices aren't interchangeable. I could see someone owning a Surface Pro 3 in addition to an iPad, but I'm skeptical that the former is truly a replacement for the latter.

But as I mentioned previously, there's more than one way to approach the Surface Pro 3. Compare it to devices you already know and like, and you'll probably find shortcomings. But think of its unique qualities, and you might find new ways of doing things.

The Surface Pro Pen, for example, creates a new category of tablet experience. Yes, iPads have more apps, and yes,

Next Page

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio
Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
6/23/2014 | 3:12:38 PM
shopper report
Did you go play with the Surface pro 3 in a store this past weekend? Let's hear from you.
IraMcCown
25%
75%
IraMcCown,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2014 | 3:38:27 PM
Re: shopper report
Surface Pro 3 is a great machine. Way lighter than any of the Apple notebooks, even the MacAir, and has lots more capabilities and neat features than any IPAD yet designed. Thumbs up to Microsoft and wondering why Apple can't keep up with neat new computers that can compete.
Ball-less
20%
80%
Ball-less,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2014 | 3:49:08 PM
Re: shopper report
This comment from 'IraMcCown' is obviously a hired-gun comment.  Disregard.  Irrelevant.
LEdwardsAK
50%
50%
LEdwardsAK,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2014 | 4:09:12 PM
Re: shopper report - Microsoft Surface Pro 3
I pre-ordered and received my Surface Pro 3 and it is great. The issue regarding it an iPad replacement, why not? While the Apps store for the iPad is larger than the Windows App store, the reason for getting the Surface Pro 3 is that many of the great apps like Pandora that are not available for the Windows App store can be used by the Surface Pro 3 because it goes straight to the source. On top of that the Surface Pro 3 can access millions of PC titles that the iPad cannot.

 

As for the shortcomings of the keyboard and the feel on your lap. First of all I rarely use a laptop on my lap but if you do, then the answer is similar to what you would have done for the iPad - potential 3rd party accessories. Heck the Freedom Case for the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 is an amazing successful kickstarter that promises the viewing angles with stability in a product that possibly one that may come to the Surface Pro 3 form factor for those that need to use it on their lap, especially while crossing your legs as one reviewer did. Sure there is not a dearth of non-Microsoft accessories out there yet for the Surface Pro 3 but there will be.

 

The real issue is the environment in which you are attuned. If you have an iPad, an iPhone, a Macbook Pro, and a Mac destktop then your collective work process is dedicated to the iOs and OSX systems and yes even there you could find overlaps. The same for Android users, or you can be like me and have a foot in all of the different environments though I have recently been edging more towards Windows with the 8.1 improvements. Its not perfect but most of the maligning are by people who used Windows 8 or even more likely others who have heard other make comments about the OS that never used it, but they'll swear by their opinion. 

 

In another review I watch someone compare as a difference for the Surface Pro 3 OneNote vs Evernote as well as Pandora. My issue is that those types of comparisons are non-issues simply because the Surface Pro 3 can get Evernote and Pandora whether or not it is in the app store. The same goes for YouTube though Hyper Youtube app is nice, I can and have just gone straight to the site.

 

I got a touch screen laptop last year and eventually started to use the screen more and more. I just wished sometimes I could just yank off the keyboard and Surface Pro 3 allows me to. I have paired it with the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Bluetooth mouse because I generally favor using a mouse over trackpads of any size for my day-to-day work. As for the docking station, well I can wait for the $199 docking station which would be nice, but I can just grab the USB 3.0 docking station I already have for my laptop. I generally dock while at my desk but the only USB I usually used was for my Logitech Unifying Receiver USB dongle. With the micro-SD card I can store files without using up my harddrive space which is further liberated by cloud storage for stuff like pictures. 

 

As for the pen, the groove in the type cover fits the clip nicely and holds it, no need to even use the additional tab to stick to the cover. Also the clicker on the pen can be reprogrammed to do other actions such as opening another program instead when clicked. I however will keep it aimed at OneNote. 

 

In the end its all about choices which include which OS environments you work with and how entrenched you are. If you are open or already ensconced in the Windows environment than the Surface Pro 3 should serve you well.
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/23/2014 | 4:57:44 PM
Re: shopper report - Microsoft Surface Pro 3
@LEdwardsAK,

Thanks for all the comments! Cool that you are enjoying your Surface. Here are a few thoughts.

"The issue regarding it an iPad replacement, why not?"

You bring up several good points, but I think there are several reasons. For some people, the Surface Pro 3 could replace an iPad; as you demonstrate, there are ways to mitigate the app issue. I think some people would hesitate to consider it an iPad replacement for the reason you cited—they're attuned at least somewhat to the Apple environment, and even if they're interested in a Surface Pro 3, the synergies between, say, the user's iPhone and iPad might get in the way. But I also think the ergonomic issue I alluded to in the article is valid. Each device encourages you to use it and hold it in different ways, and depending what you like to do, that might be a big difference, or no difference at all. The Surface is great as a note-taking tablet, but for web-browsing and apps, I find iPads easier and more comfortable to hold. For apps that involve interacting with your environment via the camera, I also find the iPad more agreeable. Likewise, UI can't be discounted. In the Surface's tablet mode, you're using Live Tiles and Modern Apps. Some of this looks and feels like iOS, and some of it doesn't. You can learn either UI, and they're both basically fine—but Apple has always had the edge when it comes to luring people in via the UI, and though iOS has its messy points, I think that's still the case, by and large. It's fine to be utilitarian and to not care personally about the aesthetics of the UI—but just as some people scoff at Apple's showy animations or claim illness after looking at iOS's parallax effect, there are millions of others who feel empowered by Apple products precisely because the UI works for them. For the preceding reasons, I was careful in the article not to say that one tablet was better than the other, per se—only that they're different. I can imagine some people preferring one to the other, some people being indifferent, and some people (with big device budgets) using both. Like I said, I can see individuals replacing an iPad with a Pro 3, but I can't see that in general.

"I have paired it with the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Bluetooth mouse because I generally favor using a mouse over trackpads of any size for my day-to-day work."

Has the new Surface Pro 3 trackpad swayed you at all? The ones on earlier Type Covers were worthless, but the new one is pretty nice. A mouse still helps, though.
 
"Also the clicker on the pen can be reprogrammed to do other actions such as opening another program instead when clicked."

Good point! Thanks for pointing that out.

" In the end its all about choices..."

Agreed. I don't think one can definitively say that the MacBook Air or the Surface Pro 3 is better than the other. They're both nice devices, and they'll both have a place. It's good to be able to choose more than one kind of great device at any given price. It lets us personalize our workflows and encourages the device-makers to stay on their toes. After all, even an Apple die hard has to hope the Surface Pro 3 does well enough to encourage Apple to hurry up with those Retina MacBook Airs, right?
DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 10:07:02 AM
Re: shopper report
It looks like Microsoft is making the same mistake as with the Surface Pro 2, limited model availablity.  The Surface Pro 2 256GB model never saw the light of day.  Looks like the same is reoccuring with the Surface Pro  3 (i5) 256GB model.  Both are a home run for businesses but can't get their hands on one.
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/26/2014 | 3:50:54 PM
Re: shopper report
Yeah, it'll be a real bummer if Microsoft runs into the same inventory problems that it ran into with the 256 GB Pro 2. They've given themselves some breathing room before the i3 and i7 models are expected, so hopefully they can meet their deadlines. I expect demand will be higher than it was for previous models, but we're not talking about iPad-level demand. If Microsoft could produce too many first-gen Surfaces, then they have the capacity to produce enough Pro 3s-- as long as they've planned well.
DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/26/2014 | 4:52:20 PM
Re: shopper report
Microsoft spends tons on market research and product feedback prior to market roll out.  I'm amazed they do so poorly at determining product features and understanding their demand for said product features.  I'd say MS was better at software product development than hardware but MS has none neither very well.  We will see if they learned anything from the Pro 2-256GB demand which I expect to be their big winner in the Pro 3 version.
mejiac
50%
50%
mejiac,
User Rank: Strategist
6/29/2014 | 3:14:04 PM
Re: shopper report
@DDURBIN1,

To add to your comment, is like microsoft is rolling out the product based on a backlog that they've had from inseption, since it seems that they address certain things long past when customers demanded it (and it's available on the main competition).

I will say that in the office environemnt, I'm seeing a lot more people leaving there laptops docked, prefering to take there Surface Pro to meetings, and if need simply RDP to there main machine.... but I'm not sure if this is Microsoft aim, since the recent advertisement is trying to state that the surcae is a "laptop replacement", that I will say it is to some extend
Ball-less
40%
60%
Ball-less,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2014 | 3:47:00 PM
Reveal Any Compensation From Micro$oft...
These fluff articles that pop-up weeks after Micro$oft releases another failed product demands that 'reporters' reveal any and all affiliations with and compensation from Micro$oft.

Microsoft is a company in steep decline.  Put anyone you want at the helm – it's over, even if it takes two or three years.  It's over even if M$ can purchase articles to attempt to promote their failed products.

M$ brought this upon themselves.  InfoW should run a comprehensive survey of tech professionals and the average user who made the mistake of purchasing M$ products over the years.  The level of frustration, disappointment, regret and anger that is seething out there will reveal the core and essential reason M$ is in decline.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO debate with me.  I am not interested in your 'opinion'.  Your opinion is irrelevant and trivial compared to the inside world of M$ I have been living in.  Arrogant, self-serving and, yes, intentionally demonic, M$ took it a step too far and off the edge of the cliff.  RIP.  M$ will not be missed.
Tom Mariner
IW Pick
80%
20%
Tom Mariner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/23/2014 | 3:59:37 PM
Re: Reveal Any Compensation From Micro$oft...
Why would anyone attempt to "debate" with someone with such an irrational hatred?
Michael Endler
100%
0%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/23/2014 | 4:16:03 PM
Re: Reveal Any Compensation From Micro$oft...
That's fine. I won't try to debate you, especially since your post's paucity of specific complaints leaves little to debate. But I think it's a little funny you find this article so outlandishly pro-Surface, given that it includes several paragraphs that explain why someone might prefer other devices, including the MacBook Air.
howeln
100%
0%
howeln,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2014 | 4:06:46 PM
Surface Pro is another device for it's purpose
Personally, I don't see the point of an ipad/tablet.  Basically, large smart phones that can't make calls. Why have a macair, ipad, and a iphone....putting apple aside.

My wife an I originally bought new lighter laptops, but found they did not quite fit the need.  Tablet/ipad really didn't fit the need (wife has an ipad from work, that mostly collects dust).  the Surface pro 2 looked like the ticket, which we bought.

Keep in mind, this is a different device, treat it as such.  It fills a nitch I think the author discussed well, if not in too much detail.

True, it does lack the clamshell design, but then if Applie never made the iphone, how would we know we liked that new device?

She uses the suface pro 2 in many places, but loves it most of all at school (masters), or in the car (rider).  Sits great in the lap, and in class, the surface sits on the desk, while she uses the remote keyboard on her lap.  This does not take up much room on the desk, and allows her to be more productive.  We are looking forward to the SP3.

The question really is price.  it's a bit high, but so are apple products - Apple has a known 30+% markup on all their products.  If people can afford it, and like it, go for it.  i highly recommend the SP line, but it comes with some understanding that it is not a laptop nor a tablet.  Significantly better in most cases, lacking in others if you want it to be one of the others.  I think the MS marketing had the right idea, but executed it incorrectly.

 

 
IraMcCown
50%
50%
IraMcCown,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2014 | 4:48:11 PM
Re: Surface Pro 3 is TERRIFIC
This Ball character who accuses me of being paid spokesperson for Microsoft is nothing more than a paid hate monger for one of Microsoft's competitors, probably Apple. I have no relationship  to Microsoft, don't know anyone who works for them and have never received any money from them. I have from time to time purchased some of their software when buying PC's and laptops but that's it. I simply tried out the Pro 3 at Microsoft Store in Aventura Mall in Miami-Dade County this past weekend and thought that it was a great machine. 

As to the comment that it does not fit well on a lap, this does not matter to me because I always use my computer on a desk or on surface next to where I am sitting because I am unsure if it is safe to have any computer functioning in close contact to my body.
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/23/2014 | 5:49:14 PM
Re: Surface Pro 3 is TERRIFIC
@Ira,

"I am unsure if it is safe to have any computer functioning in close contact to my body."

I'd wondered that too. When I was younger, my mother, no doubt thinking of future grandchildren, always used to warn me about using laptops on my lap. I don't hear people talk about that concern much any more-- but I did a quick Google search and found tons of recent stuff on the topic. At least with a device like the Pro 3, you don't have a big battery sitting directly on your lap.
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/23/2014 | 5:44:02 PM
Re: Surface Pro is another device for it's purpose
@howeIn

Thanks for sharing the experiences with the Surface Pro 2. I think you say it well-- the Surface Pro 2 is neither tablet nor laptop but something else, more like its own category. I think you can call the Pro 3 a laptop more easily than you could either of the first two-- but it's still something different as well.

I think if you liked the Pro 2 you'll definitely like the Pro 3. Unless I'm making major allowances for a small niche of users (e.g. people who value the Surface Pro 2's smaller footprint above all else), I can't think of a way that the Pro 3 isn't better.
Shane M. O'Neill
50%
50%
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
6/23/2014 | 4:11:15 PM
Enterprise or bust
Some of the features cited here make a good case for on-the-go workers -- quick access to Office, namely OneNote, and the pen functionality. But I don't think consumers will ever buy into this and maybe that won't matter to Microsoft as long as enterprises start using it. It's priced at the same level as the MacBook Air (Surface Pro 3 is more expensive when you go head-to-head on specs) so it can't really win over consumers on price. It's a unique device but still a tough sell. The iPad comparisons never made sense to me.

But here's one short-term strategy that could work.

Microsoft offers $650 store credit for MacBook Air for Surface Pro 3 trade-in
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/23/2014 | 5:20:09 PM
Re: Enterprise or bust
Let's hear it, MacBook Air owners, any takers? $650 back (or maybe less... see the fine print) takes a lot of sting out of the Surface Pro 3's cost.



DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 10:16:59 AM
Re: Enterprise or bust
Once you go "Mac" you'll never go back.  The OS and UI on a MacBook has stayed very consistent from one version/release to the next.  Can Microsoft say the same about Windows?  I don't think too many MacBook users are insterested in going back to the  moronic shuffling deck chair updates from Microsoft and they'd pay more for a product to stay in Apple's camp.
Michael Endler
100%
0%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/26/2014 | 3:23:38 PM
Re: Enterprise or bust
Compared to any other single manufacturer, Apple retains customers very, very well. Considering how expensive its computers are, that says something, doesn't it?
WillNy3
100%
0%
WillNy3,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2014 | 4:32:28 PM
Too expensive
I'd be lying if I didn't say this is so cool, in theory. The problem with it is missing design features, only decent specs, and a nose bleed high price tag. 

 

Let's start with the first: How about a telescopic stand that allows it to rest like an L where a bottom part supports the stand. I own a Surface and a laptop needs to be able to rest on, well, your lap. No luck here. It also feels very tight for touch functionality. Seriously, pushing buttons on anything but the windows screen is infuriating because it is 50/50 if it will work (or if you'll accidentally click close instead of maximize on your Chrome browser). Third that whole touch type keypad is aweful. You're constantly looking down to see if your fingers are correctly in sync with the board because you can't feel keys.

Next: The specs are average. Decent processor, small SSD, small screen, keyboard sold seprately. GPU? What GPU?

Last: The price is a joke, for the cost of a low range Pro 3 w/ keyboard you could buy a kindle fire PLUS a mid level gaming laptop. A laptop with a better SSD, i7 vs i5 (both 4th gen), bigger screen, a mid quality GPU, and more RAM. And an Android tablet that has, you know, APPS. Those things that make a tablet worth having! 

Bottom line is when you buy the Surface Pro 3 you're getting the least of both worlds.

 

 
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/23/2014 | 6:06:22 PM
Re: Too expensive
@WillNy3

Thanks for the thoughts. I think you're right—if you want to maximize qualities such as PC specs or tablet app access, the Surface Pro 3 isn't a very frugal option. That said, I don't think it's designed for people with those priorities. The MacBook Air is pretty successful, and the Surface Pro 3 generally meets or exceeds the MacBook's spec standards, so I think for its target audience of mobile professionals, the Surface Pro 3 brings enough power. I admit I'd like to see an option with a more powerful GPU, but the i5-based demo unit with 8 GB of RAM hasn't had any problem keeping up with whatever I've needed. I can't fault Microsoft for balancing  form factor and power the way it has. The Pro 3 is a unique device, and the extent to which you can justify its high cost is the extent to which that uniqueness matters to you.

Also, Chrome and touch don't get along well—very true. Good point.

Also agree that the original Touch Covers were awful. The second-generation keyboards were serviceable. The one released alongside the Pro 3 is quite good. It's more rigid and spacious (though I'm pretty sure key travel and layout are actually the same), and includes a very nice (though not MacBook-level nice) trackpad.
anon5315611673
100%
0%
anon5315611673,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/24/2014 | 9:25:28 AM
Re: Too expensive
Isn't that the problem though? It was designed on the premise of being both a laptop AND a tablet but fell drastically short. They failed to attract enough developers to their platform because so few people are adopting this technology. It may have a niche but the niche is gone if it fails to deliver on promises. Also, I'm about to let the hate rain down on me but buying a MacBook air is throwing money out the window. There are tons of ultrabooks out there that can compete with size and specs for $500+ dollars less than an Air. Microsoft should have NEVER developed something that is relatively similar in price when compared to an Apple product. Let's be honest, Apple is a status symbol. There is nothing that warrants their price tag and the worst thing a PC enthusiast can do is say "well Apple is charging...". If they're both the same price you only risk losing more PC people because Apple users already knew their product was more expensive. However, both prices being equal you'll have a lot of people begin to question "why not get an Apple since it's the same price?" 

 

Also, I don't want people to be under the impression I'm some Microsoft hating guy. I actually prefer Microsoft and I think this could be successful if they do the following for the next generation.

 

Drop the price of SP-4 to something in the 800 range WITH keyboard. Nickel and diming is no way to treat your customers.

SP-4 comes with the suggested telescopic kick stand.

Increase the screen to somewhere in the 11.4 inch range.

Make i7 the standard. These aren't cheap machines, even at $800 i7 is the norm, don't short your customers.

ATTRACT DEVELOPERS: there is no reason with Microsoft's endless resources they can't do something like make it only a 5-10% cut of all sales as opposed to 30% for a year or two so people see value in the idea of selling on the Windows Store. Also, consider allowing developers to publish with Java. Currently, developers have to use C#. Allowing developers to use Java instead means a simple port of their existing Android app.

Dedicated GPUs. Now maybe as a developer and a game enthusiast these mean more to me than most. However, PCs big sell is how they have such a focus on gaming when compared to Macs. With that in mind I'd love to see some way to turn this into a gaming machine. How about they put in a servicable at best GPU but make it dedicated so they could sell perhaps the Nvidia line SP-4 edition. Then you can turn this into something that REALLY brings in consumers since they could upgrade this. 

 

That is A LOT to ask but above me is the recipe for success. It could lead to a very special device I would gladly buy!
DDURBIN1
0%
100%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 9:59:44 AM
Re: Too expensive
Apple is a status symbol?  Apple is the largest valued corporation in the world because its a status symbol?  Not hardly.  Obviously you know absolutely nothing about a product's value.  You should work for Microsoft business development because that's their problem too.  They haven't been able to come up with a product that provides the best amount of features and price that represents a "good" value to the customer.  Apple certainly has.
anon5315611673
100%
0%
anon5315611673,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/24/2014 | 10:16:42 AM
Re: Too expensive
What is this value you speak of oh wise one. Please enlighten me. I can use more than rhetoric to back myself up. You are buying the same internal components at a known 30%+ markup. Because of lack of hardware options. Lack of support for gaming. Limited value in a business environment because most small to mid sized B2B companies only support Windows thanks to it's huge hold on that sector. Less support for hardware concerns. If you find the OSX that amazing you can install hackintosh on a better PC that cost half as much. Now you can dual boot. There are more reasons that I can't think of off the top of my head. Anyways, now it's your turn. Tell me how I'm wrong. Tell me how the exact same i5 is worth more because Apple is on the case.

 

PS:

 I love how every fan boy's immediate go to when someone says something bad about their system is "oh you must work for M$/Apple". How about we grow up or do you work for Apple HAHA
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/26/2014 | 3:47:00 PM
Re: Too expensive
@anon,

While Apple vs. Microsoft conversations often incite kneejerk fanboyism, I think there's more value to Apple than mere rhetoric. Admittedly, it's not all easy to quantify.  But Apple's usually the top seller of $1000+ PCs (which sometimes surprises people—but it makes sense if you think about it, given that virtually all Macs are more than $1000). Granted, Apple's popularity among affluent people doesn't dismiss the possibility that some people with too much money buy Apple products just to be fashionable. Nevertheless, this popularity indicates that people with enough money to be discerning choose Apple at a much higher rate. One assumes that some of these people perceive real value, rather the trendies, given the large numbers we're talking about.

Additionally, even though Apple machines use the same components as cheaper Windows machines, for certain kinds of performance, Apple machines perform better, thanks to Apple's tight control of both hardware and software. Moreover, while the internal components might be comparable to those in cheaper Windows devices, the external components are a different issue. I know design don't matter to everyone, especially if you're particularly utilitarian, but it matters to others—and if you make people comfortable, they'll be more productive. I think you can also make some arguments in favor of OS X, maybe not on the IT side, but for users, it's clearly a different aesthetic than Windows, and features such as Spaces are pretty great. Does that mean everyone would buy a MacBook Pro if money were no object? No, of course not. As you point out, gamers have better options, and if you're running a business and need to be frugal, you can get the job done with Windows machines while spending half as much. And even though I like OS X, I wouldn't fault somehow who subjectively just doesn't like it. But the point is—Macs provide some empirical value, and even if some of Apple's benefits aren't as tangible as specs, I think it offers more than rhetoric.
beyondabraxas
100%
0%
beyondabraxas,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2014 | 10:29:25 PM
What about the glued in components/built in obsolescence/ impossibility to repair?
I have a story for ya'll....

I dropped my SP1, barely 15 inches onto thick and fluffy carpet at an odd angle, nothing that would damage anything usually, except the thing is, it landed on the open kickstand, and by leverage (and shoddy plastic kickstand parts) the kickstand tore off, when it did tear off -- thanks to the over gluing inside, the tabs of the kickstand peeled off some other black foil like stuff, which I'm assuming was battery related since after that I'd notice kinds of 'powder' and 'sweat' which would burn with my hands - I called MS - since it was still under warranty, However, they wouldn't fix it for me since it was considered my fault for dropping it, which I'm totally fine with, losing a kick stand, no problem, my fault for that -- whats not my fault is the kickstand being so flimsy and attached to glue inside that it would peel battery foil off, causing residue to come out on occasion, that is a product problem. And made the device very unsafe in my mind. Anyways, I had to pay $300 (in goodfaith) for a refurb exchange two months ago, in this time, they're 'supposed to be' inspecting my device to verify my claims, thats the best they could do apparently - So far, I've heard nada - And this Refurb has been a unqiue experience all over again, since I'm assuming the battery in the refurb wasn't replaced, it has been giving me all kinds of hassle. bat life has been much weaker than my old surface, I've spent hours upon hours trouble shooting with support on the phone, trying to solve the 'Plugged in - Not Charging' message I'm constantly faced with - The techs determined I should send it back in for another Refurb since mine is clearly defective even to their techs, since I followed every advice of theirs i.e. formatting numerous times, reupdating and reinstalling things. I say screw that - The amount of time and headache sunk into this thing, installing software, backing up, all cloud downloads mind you, its very time consuming having to replace and format again and again, this is just not worth it - Both my Surfaces have had some sort of Battery issue - Once my Surface dies, I'll leave it dead and be done with the Surface line thanks to their shoddy construction i.e. use of glue/built in obsoletion and all around battery problems. I'd rather get a competitors product that allows me to atleast change the battery on my $1000+ device.

I really was one of the initial proponents of this device - My friend, an animation director was an early adopter and promoter, he did commercials with them for it I believe. Anyways, he turned me onto this thing very early on, and I was all about it. In turn, I demoed it to my professional artist friends and got more than a couple handful to grab their own devices -- Since in retrospect it was a great device for an animator/artist for the price. Now, this whole experience with battery related problems and product construction/gluing, inability to replace bad batteries and built in obsoltetion has left such a bad taste that I'm done with this product line. As much as I'd like to support local American brands - The Surface is dead to me.


iFixit rightfully gave the Surfaces a repairability score of 1/10. Its non existant. All batteries die eventually - IQ or not. I gotta deal with my soon to be $1300 paperweight.

Sorry for rant - I've been a subscriber and follower of this sub for too long, contributer in its early days - now I just hate hearing about surface stuff considering my shitty experiences.

I know my post is about the SP1 - you can bet the SP3 is no different. They're annual products with no chance of repairability.
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/26/2014 | 3:54:16 PM
Re: What about the glued in components/built in obsolescence/ impossibility to repair?
@beyond,

That's really disappointing. Thanks for sharing your experience-- sorry it didn't turn out better. Panos Panay tossed the Surface Pro 3 on the floor when he launched the device, in order to demonstrate its durability. Given that Microsoft is now volunteering that the device can survive a fall, I wonder if people will experience the same kind of service that you did.
Fill
50%
50%
Fill,
User Rank: Strategist
6/23/2014 | 10:48:55 PM
Too awkward, too expensive
I like the power and the potential of running regular Windows software, but it isn't a 'laptop' with the magnetic keyboard and kickstand.  Table top, yes, but I can't see how it is as ergonomic as a regular hinged laptop on a lap.  And for the price, you can get a lot of other things like any of the convertable touch screen laptops out there which have great specs.

That said, I do think the future will be that smaller devices will have virtually as much power and battery life as you could want and the form factor will be less of a requirement on those.  That should be obvious.

So, at least for now, I think MS is falling down on competitive price (I mean, you can buy a MBP for the cost of some of those configurations, not just a MBA).  And on ergonomics and user interface (I won't get into the problems with Metro/Win8).

As a side-note, I find it a bit desperate looking that MS has ads, trade ins offers, etc. that continually mention Apple and their products.  They were supposed to be the anti-Apple, but they keep coming back around to comparing themselves and their products to Apple's.

Thanks for the article!
mejiac
50%
50%
mejiac,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 1:06:11 PM
A Good Alternative
"But if you're looking for a device that can enable new ways of working, it warrants a serious look."

I think this comment hits the nail on the head.

In my current organization, mostly managers are walking around with surface device, mainly to cut back on weight and be lighter.

I think the choice of which tablet to use really comes done to the specific types of activities you're trying to transfer.

If you just need to perform "light computing" (meaning you don't code and you don't need a bigger screen for design work), than a tablet solution can definitly work out.
mejiac
50%
50%
mejiac,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 1:08:27 PM
Re: A Good Alternative
To add to my previous comment,

I'm currently testing out a Nexus 7. I have my email and have all my files synced, so I can access them on the go. I can remote in to all my applications, so I'm able to at least review any type of files and reply back. Yet I really haven't been able to do a transition, since I constantly have to multi task, switch between aplications and perform specific task that I can't do on  tablet.

So in my case, a tablet would mostly be inviting for the purpose of note taking in a training class, or reviewing sites when in the break room.
stotheco
50%
50%
stotheco,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/25/2014 | 3:41:45 PM
Re: A Good Alternative
I've been using a Nexus 7 for the past year or so. I was completely satisfied at the beginning, until recently. I don't know what happened, but my tablet now moves at turtle speed, it's frustrating. Now I'm definitely considering the Surface Pro 3, considering all these good things. Or maybe I just need to refresh the Nexus--we'll see, but at this point, the Pro is very tempting.
mejiac
50%
50%
mejiac,
User Rank: Strategist
6/25/2014 | 4:33:16 PM
Re: A Good Alternative
@stotheco,

This happened to me too, and from what I can tell the Nexus does suffer in performance when a certain amount of apps are installed, and I think it's because it's constantly updating.

I had a lot of games installed for my son, and as soon as I uninstalled all of them peformance improved, which goes to show that Android still has some work to do, since iOS doesn't suffer from this.
indranil_leo
50%
50%
indranil_leo,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2014 | 1:58:49 AM
Surface Pro 3 is a great productivity device for a lot of people, but probably not for the mass market
This is certainly one of the most balanced and quality review on Surface Pro 3 I have read. Certainly Surface Pro 3 is NOT a laptop, and it is also not a "tablet" as most people use it after the great success of the Apple Ipad. But it is also true that Microsoft has been in the business of making "tablets" much longer than Apple! I have owned one since 2005.

You have included few potential groups who would benefit from this device. I was surprised that you didn't mention students and academics. I used my tablet and onenote in class, to write lecture notes, record (synced to my notes) lectures, since 2005. As academics (professors, researchers, etc) we have to read a lot of papers, annotate, create notes, etc. I think from this view point the surface pro 3 is an amazing device I can also carry it with me for delivering presentation, and also work (write papers, run software, numerical analysis, write code) while traveling, write/draw ideas store e-books etc. I think the device is terrific for us. In fact I am amazed and happy that Microsoft is sticking to creating such device, when most people may be much happy to play angry birds on an iPad or Nexus. This is a productive device.

Of course just like any other tool, it has got its own idiosyncrasies and it is not perfect. I wished it had a GPU, I wish it had LTE, I wish a lot of things ... but Surface Pro 3 is not meant to be a super gaming device, it is not meant to be a super-computer, it is not meant to be a TV. Will it replace my powerful work machine? Certainly not! But can I carry around my work machine? Certainly not! There are always trade-offs/ compromises. People talk about apps, argue that you have millions of apps for iPad, and only thousands of apps for Windows. Who has even tried out the millions of apps? I own a Nexus. I don't think that I have ever gone beyond using more than 10-15 top quality apps. Of course it could just be me! may be I am missing something! But I won't know because I don't feel the need.

To some extent I certainly blame the marketing guys in Microsoft for not clearly differentiating their device, and to some extent even leading the consumers to the wrong way of thinking about its device. May be their technical and marketing teams talk different languages. On top of that they come out with such stupid (in my mind) and dirty tactics such as the $650 Mac exchange offer which clearly shows their desperation. I am dismayed by such tricks. At the same time I honestly feel that the Surface Pro 3 is a great overall productivity device.

Please note that I am neither an Apple or a Microsoft fanboy. I like using devices, and I own and use products from both (and many other) manufacturers.
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/26/2014 | 3:20:41 PM
Re: Surface Pro 3 is a great productivity device for a lot of people, but probably not for the mass market
@indranil

Yes, definitely, the Surface Pro 3 will be a fine device for many students. Much more practical than the early models, in that regard.

As for marketing, I think they've corrected some problems while introducing others. The original Surface ads were sort of entertaining, but breakdancing employees and stomping school girls didn't really communicate how the devices were supposed to work. For the second-generation devices, Microsoft corrected this problem. The current Surface Pro 3 ad is probably the strongest one yet; in 30 seconds, it gives you a pretty fair and accurate look at all the ways you might use the device. It also doesn't hurt that the current commercial advertises a better product. But even though the commercials are better, many have questioned whether Microsoft should be emphasizing comparisons with the MacBook Air. While I can see why Microsoft is making the comparison, I can also see how it further muddies the waters regarding what Surface is, and for whom.
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
6/28/2014 | 8:45:50 AM
At the desk vs. ...?
They make ergonomic floor stands for tablets that will allow you to place them at just the right comfortable height for you, wherever you are (i.e., whether at a desk, on a couch or recliner, or even in bed).  This is especially important for somebody like me who has back and neck issues.
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - July 22, 2014
Sophisticated attacks demand real-time risk management and continuous monitoring. Here's how federal agencies are meeting that challenge.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.