I’ve been using a Surface Pro 3 now for a couple of months. Myself and Andrew both got given one when we were in the US at the end of July at a Microsoft technical conference. So I wanted to give you my impressions of the device and whether you can actually use it as a laptop replacement.
The Kit Bag
I have a Lenovo X1 Carbon which I’ve used for a long time as my primary laptop. It’s a great machine and had a Core i7, 8GB or RAM and a 256GB SSD drive. I also have a Lenovo W510 which I’ve had for a couple of years now. This machine has 32GB of RAM, 2 SSD drives and a 15” screen. Before I had servers to do Hyper-V demos I used this machine a lot as my demo laptop.
I also have 2 iPad’s and a couple of Windows 8 8” devices for reading and browsing the web. I also have an original Surface Pro which I used a lot for demo’s and a couple of Surface RT devices floating around. Oh and 2 Windows Phones as well! Forgot about those.. It’s quite a lot of stuff to carry around and is no fun going through airport security.
For a long time I was thinking how can I reduce the devices I have and still get my work done. Enter the Surface Pro 3!
The picture above is my current setup at home and of course people always ask which one did you get? Well since it was a freebie we got the Core i5 model with 4GB of Ram and 128GB SSD. Not the top of the range model but it works fine for most of the day to day tasks like writing this blog post! And surprisingly I haven’t run out of space as I store everything on OneDrive and only pull items down when I need them. Other accessories in this picture include the Cyan Type Cover 2, the Microsoft All-In-One Media Keyboard, the Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition and the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station. Plus I have a 22” monitor attached to the docking station as well.
So all an all it’s a pretty good setup and if I need to use the Surface Pro 3 as a tablet it’s dead easy to get it out of the dock and be on my way.
So what’s to like?
So what’s so good about the Surface Pro 3? Well, many things in fact but I’ll start with the screen because after all that's what we look at all day right? The screen is absolutely brilliant and one of the best, alright best screen I’ve seen on a tablet or laptop. No I know what your saying. It’s only 12 inches so it’s a bit small for a laptop right? Well think again because it feels and looks so much bigger. With a resolution of 2160x1440 and a 3:2 aspect ratio it makes it seem like you have so much more real estate to work with. It feels like a bigger screen than my Lenovo X1 carbon which has a 1600x900 resolution.
The next thing is the weight. It only weighs 800 grams so its super light in your bag but still has all the power that you need. It’s quite an innovation to get the device this light and still have the full power of a PC. A lot of this comes down to the 4th generation Intel processor and the type of cooling system we use in the device. The 2 videos below talk to the device itself and how it’s cooled.
Full Powered PC and a Tablet
The internals of the cooling system
A lot has been said about the kickstand and rightly so because it’s awesome. I use it all the time and in particular the full 150 degree mode, ie almost flat. It’s a great way to have the device on a coffee table and it works great on a tray table on a plane. You don’t have to worry about someone reclining their seat and taking out your laptop. The kickstand also helps tremendously with using the Surface on your lap because of the breadth of adjustment.
The keyboard is just way better than the previous type cover. It just feels much better than the previous one and because its enhanced with magnetic stability it just makes it more like a laptop keyboard. Plus the touchpad is 66% bigger than the previous one and is not made out of fabric so it feels again more like a laptop keyboards trackpad.
This is where the real magic happens. I had a Surface Pro 2 for awhile and it also came with a pen but nothing like what comes with the Surface Pro 3. The pen is so much more tightly integrated into with the Surface Pro 3 that using OneNote even when the device is locked just works. Even if the device is locked all I have to do is click the top of the pen and it will load up a new OneNote page, ready for me to start writing. The pen feels good in the hand and is a perfect blend of software and hardware working in harmony together to make your life easier!
The biggest question I seem to get is what’s the battery life like? This is the hardest one to answer because it really depends what your doing with the device. We say 9 hours of battery life of web browsing but of course this will vary. Folks that I’ve spoken to who have one are getting almost all day in the office without having to plug-in which is pretty darn good I say!
My one and only bug bear with this device is when you move the keyboard up into it’s magnetic connection to the screen it’s almost impossible to touch icons on the taskbar with your finger because the keyboard gets in the way. I’m not sure if there is anything we can do about this because there really is no other place the keyboard can attach that way to the bottom of the screen.
So can you replace your laptop with this device? Yes absolutely you can! I installed Windows 8.1 Enterprise so I have Direct Access and Virtual Smartcard so it all runs fine. If I was buying one myself or had a business and I was going to get one then I would have got 8GB of ram just to give me that little bit extra headroom. I haven’t had any issues with 4GB for sure but I still would like to have a bit more memory just the same. The only time lately that I’ve been using another laptop is to demo Windows to Go. Other than that the Surface Pro 3 is my go to device all the time!
We recently commissioned 2900 participants across the Asia Pacific region about how they used technology devices and that they really want to use one device. Hopefully Surface Pro 3 is that Device!
If you have a Surface Pro 3 and I’m sure many of you do then please share your experience with the device! That's all for now..