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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.

some of them let you use your finger to draw on the screen -- but writing on the Pro 3 is in another league, almost like applying a pen on a pad of paper. That might not excite people who spend most of their time looking at spreadsheets or typing code on a keyboard, but for others, it's a blockbuster feature.

When the Pro 3 was introduced, for example, Microsoft previewed a pen-optimized version of Final Draft, one of the leading screenwriting programs. Many Hollywood jobs, from mailroom internships to studio leadership positions, involve heavy script-reading duties. Today, many script people share notes by tediously applying digital annotations on a PC, or by printing out a forest's worth of physical copies, marking them up by hand, and typing up summaries. With the Pro 3 and Final Draft, they'll be able to write notes directly on the screen and share with collaborators without printing a page.

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Thanks to the Surface Pro Pen, the Pro 3 boasts a unique tablet experience.

Doctors can use the pen to take notes while doing rounds, and to draw on diagrams to help patients understand concepts. Moreover, they can flip into laptop mode to input new information, saving them the time of running back to a PC station. Given the potential for better patient interaction, faster turnaround times, and greater overall productivity, it's no surprise that medical institutions such as Seattle Children's Hospital and Pittsburgh's UPMC are among the early Pro 3 customers.

Sales reps can use the Pro in almost the same ways doctors can -- as not only a laptop, but also a highly portable note-taking and presentation tool. If you're the on-the-go type, meanwhile, the device makes it much easier to capture spontaneous inspiration. By pressing a button on the pen, you can wake the Pro 3 directly into OneNote, enabling you to jot down an idea quickly before you get distracted. Handwritten notes can also be converted to text, which, like the deep OneNote integration, eases the transition between pen and laptop modes. If you're constantly running between meetings or dashing from one cab to the next, it's a unique and useful combination of assets, even if it doesn't come with a clamshell form factor.

So where does that leave you as a would-be buyer? If you're looking for a device that will build on your current workflows, the Pro 3 will be hit and miss. But if you're looking for a device that can enable new ways of working, it warrants a serious look.

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