After spending about 6 months using a Windows Surface Pro 2, I decided to upgrade to the Windows Surface Pro 3. The primary (in fact, the ONLY) reason was that the screen on a Surface Pro 2 was too small, meaning that in order to do a lot of meaningful work on it, I needed to have it docked to a larger monitor. Of course this pretty much made it the same as a laptop/desktop, which in turn, made it irrelevant. So a few weeks ago I ponied up some cash and bought a Surface Pro 3. With this version I think Microsoft finally got it right, balancing the need for business users to have a laptop with a full-fledged operating system, keyboard and decent screen real estate with the ease of use of a tablet. While I think there are a myriad of tablets that work better in that space than a Surface Pro 3, there is not one that has full laptop functionality of a Surface 3.
In terms of design, Microsoft increased the touchscreen from 10.6 to 12 inches. Why this doesn’t sound like much, this increase has provided a solid boost in available screen work space, making the Surface Pro 3 more of a “stand alone” option for the typical business user. Microsoft also created more usable screen space by going from a 16:9 aspect ratio to a 3:2 aspect ratio. Pixel count has also been increased, going from a 1920 x 1080 to a clear 2160 x 1440. Microsoft has jumped ahead of Apple when it comes to screen resolution and size, and Microsoft itself has started comparing the Surface Pro 3 to the Macbook Air rather than the iPad. This may be a significant bell-weather on how Microsoft sees this space moving in the future.
The Surface Pro 3 is thinner and lighter than its Surface Pro predecessors, with a magnesium shell that is smooth to the touch. However one of the noticed drawbacks to this design is that the Surface Pro 3 seems to generate a lot more heat than the earlier Surface Pros.
While the type covers are nice (and fixed another drawback of the older Surface Pros in that the older flat covers caused the cursor to jump around in error), Microsoft still thinks these are optional rather than required. This continues to be a pain point for many users and may hinder larger adoption of the Surface Pro line.
Price continues to a bit of an issue. While Microsoft is trying to place the price point of the Surface Pro 3 in the same area as the Macbook Air, the optional (required) add-ons makes it a pricier option, and unfortunately for Microsoft doesn’t have the reputation cache of Apple when it comes to hardware, and one has to wonder if this is another shot below the waterline in the broadsides between the two companies.
In summary, Microsoft has continued to advance the Surface Pro line with this latest offering, but there are some hardware issues (excessive heat) and marketing missteps (“optional” keyboards, cost) that may continue to plague the adoption of the Surface Pro 3. Nonetheless, for the business user like myself, it is a solid replacement for the laptop, and if Microsoft could ever get out of its own way, could be a nice tablet as well.