Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Why To Buy - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
6/23/2014
02:45 PM
Michael Endler
Michael Endler
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
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.

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.

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

InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of the Internet of Things. Find out the way in which an aging workforce will drive progress on the Internet of Things, why the IoT isn't as scary as some folks seem to think, how connected machines will change the supply chain, and more (free registration required).

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
We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.



Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Slideshows
11 Things IT Professionals Wish They Knew Earlier in Their Careers
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/6/2021
News
Time to Shift Your Job Search Out of Neutral
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/31/2021
Commentary
Does Identity Hinder Hybrid-Cloud and Multi-Cloud Adoption?
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  4/1/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Successful Strategies for Digital Transformation
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll