Have MBA, Purchases Note 10.1, Thinking Surface Pro 3??

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by MilleDav01, Oct 6, 2014.

  1. MilleDav01 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012
    I have been in the apple world for about 3 years now (iPhone and MBA)

    I had the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Macbook air (Selling + BB Student Discount):apple:

    I recently (TODAY) purchased a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition for school. I thought It would be my solution so that I could take notes on powerpoints for class and save them digitally. Well...... I have to convert the PPT to PDF in order to take notes on them, and sometimes it loses color on some pictures and makes them B&W??? So I MIGHT return it because Its not necessarily the solution I need (Unless someone has a suggestion). I NEVER really take freeform notes (without powerpoints present.)

    I was looking at the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, I hated windows when I used it (win 7) but the functionality and versatility seem like something I would really like. I played with the SP3 @ TigerDirect and BestBuy but I had no less than 6 people asking me if I needed help so I really couldn't get the feel for it, was annoyed and left.

    I cannot afford to keep the MBA and buy a SP3, so I was thinking of selling my MBA, returning the GN10.1 and using a 10% off BestBuy Coupon to get the SP3 i5 256 8GB. But in many ways it makes me very sad to part with my MBA.:(:(:(

    I know I sound indecisive, but Im looking for someone with any experience with any of the above device combinations.

    Thanks to anyone that posts!

  2. skaertus macrumors 68030


    Feb 23, 2009
    Do you have the 11 or 13-inch MacBook Air?

    You have to figure out what you want your device to do.

    I have never seen the Surface 3 Pro in person yet. The Surface Pro 2 was actually very good, very portable and light, and versatile. However, I thought the screen was small and the keyboard was not as good as the one in a laptop. But the Surface Pro 3 seems to address these features. The 12-inch screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio looks really great; I particularly think it is good to have a screen not so wide, especially if the screen is small. So, I think it is a very useful device and I would buy it if I need a multi-purpose device.

    I have never really used the Galaxy Note extensively. However, Android tablets never interested me. As good as they may be, they do not run the software I need.

    Depending on what you want, the answer may vary. A tablet will not replace a laptop, especially if it runs iOS or Android or Windows RT. If you need tablet functionality and you also need a laptop, then the Surface Pro 3 is probably your best choice. If you don't need a tablet, then there are many options of good thin-and-light laptops out there, running either Windows or OS X.
  3. MilleDav01 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012
  4. joshlalonde, Oct 6, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014

    joshlalonde macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2014
    Alright, let's see here.

    Trying to remove bias here, let's talk about the situation. You're thinking of getting the SP3, but you'll have to sacrifice your MBA and an Android tablet that's not doing so hot.

    When I was looking at getting the SP3, the thing that turned me off most was the battery performance and cooling problems (leading to thermal throttling of the CPU).

    But first, let's talk positives. Pen, Windows (if you count that as a positive), OneNote, tablet + laptop experience, hi-res display. On the surface, it would appear to trump a MacBook. Pen input is quite useful (and one of your needs, it seems). Complete OneNote experience, even just Microsoft experience in general.

    As I already mentioned, you won't get the battery life you'd expect. Maybe lucky to get 6-7 hours on normal usage. They don't mention that you need to keep bluetooth on to use the pen's special quick note feature. Also, you need to use WinRT apps to get the max battery as they are optimized. I don't think OneNote (the app) can import PPTXs, either.

    it maybe not be as bad as that.
    You may find that you would enjoy taking hand-written notes in OneNote. Forgo the slides and just take 'freehand' notes. You could even use the camera and take a picture of the slide, then use OCD technologies to doctor it up and even convert the pictures into text.

    That or do what I did with my Surface RT, and just type the slides (while putting things in your own words) and then using the pen to make annotations. In practice, I didn't find the experience as seamless as to be desired. I was using a piece of crap, however, but I'm not convinced.

    There are alternatives; you can use PowerPoint and just right on the slides there. Or convert your powerpoint to a .pdf and annotate within the reader app; probably closer to the experience you desire.

    However, OneNote is probably the best note-taking app in the market today. Even after I switched, I still use OneNote on the MacBook Air. I just type notes in from slides, and then I hand-write notes in an organized, topical fashion as studying for my test. It works surprisingly well, but maybe you learn differently.

    But I digress. I chose not to buy the Surface Pro 3 (even though I was still Pro-MS at the time) and got a MacBook Air. Honestly a great decision. I hate to say this, but is it possible you could change your note-taking style? If not, you're better off looking at a different Android tablet.

    I kind of hate Microsoft because they screwed me over >.> But I hope I was able to present a fair argument; based on my experience, less than my anger.

    Screenshot of what OneNote can do: https://www.dropbox.com/s/td5odw97rjxtktz/Screenshot 2014-10-06 22.02.47.png?dl=0

    Notice the tags, sub-pages (allowing me to organize notes by unit, topic and sub-topic), formatting, etc. There a whole bunch of goodies (most of the best ones, however, are in the Windows version sadly)

    You can import PDF printouts into the desktop version of OneNote. So, maybe if you can live without the pretty-looking app (and less battery), SP3 is the way to go. Just don't forget to bring a charger.
  5. m98custom1212 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2013
    Toledo, Ohio
    I can get about 8-8.5 hours of battery life on SP3

    Normal Use- Chrome, Onenote, Outlook, Excel, Drawboard PDF, OneDrive Syncing once in while Solidworks running but I mainly use my work desktop for that.
  6. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    in exile
    How do your hand write notes in OneNote on the MBA? As far as I know, neither the iOS nor OSX versions of OneNote allow for handwriting.

    I'd love to go back to OneNote, but the lack of functional parity across platforms makes it a bit challenging.
  7. joshlalonde macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2014
    I don't.
    I type my notes from the slides.

    And then I go and hand-write notes on paper (a novel idea) and draw pictures even.

  8. MacModMachine macrumors 68020


    Apr 3, 2009
    one of the biggest reasons i will never buy a SP3 is its repairability , i opened a surface 2 and it took the better part of 3 hours.

    i would hate to have to replace a fan and never be able to open it, the surface 3 looks like it cannot even be opened without damaging the screen do to its further reduced thiness.

    i had my fan die in the surface 2 and thats why i had to open.
  9. SusanK macrumors 68000

    Oct 9, 2012
    After the MBA everything else is tied for second place.
  10. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    in exile
    I traded in my Surface 2 for an 11" MBA. Quite a significant difference.
    I just bought a Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 to supplement that.
  11. Riker88 macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2011
    I went from a MBA 11 inch to the Surface Pro 3. I love my SP3. The supposed 'problems' are all blown out of proportion by 'enthusiasts' eg the aggressive throttling to increase battery life, and would not impact on the vast majority of users.

    I tend to use OSX and Windows interchangeably. The only thing I miss from my MBA is the fantastic trackpad. The stylus from the SP3 only partially makes up for this.

    Battery life on my SP3 is about 6-8 hours which is enough for me.
  12. joshlalonde macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2014
    I admit that the throttling problem isn't something that will affect most people. It does, however, show that the Surface does not have good cooling.

    And, it's not out of proportion. That's only one of the many problems with the device.

    1. Battery life is average. May or may not get you through the whole day. Tell me, if you leave bluetooth on (so you can use the pen as intended), how long does your battery life last? Even without it on, you get a max. average of 9 hours on normal use, isn't that right?

    The Macbook Air gets through my entire day (which sometimes includes running VMs for 30-60 minutes) and then some. I have never reached less than 10%. Usually I go home with anywhere to 40%-95%. I only plug it in if I play games and not all the time. Playing League of Legends for an hour removes about 30% battery life.

    2. Cooling problems; the casing doesn't push out enough heat so the Surface Pro 3 may became warm during normal usage.

    After playing Skyrim or Minecraft, the fan kicks in. It's not very loud. As soon as I exit the game, the fan turns off in 5 minutes, and by 10-15, the Air is already cool to the touch.

    3. Configurations.
    The configurations for the Surface are rigid. You must get pre-defined configurations.

    This may or may not be an issue, but if you're using this as your main device, you're going to want more storage. You can't simply upgrade your storage, however, you must purchase an i5 to get at least 128GB SSD.

    Of course, you know how the Apple side of things work.

    4. Pricing.
    For an equivalent machine spec-wise, you're going to end up paying an additional $100 for the Surface.

    You could argue that the value comes from having a touch screen and a pen, where the Air does not have either.

    5. Software

    Let's face it, Windows is not fun to use. Its frequent updates, somewhat confusing UI, and generally cumbersome interface...

    I don't know how many times I've had or seen someone have a surprise update pushed on them. It's usually 100% inconvenient.

    I was one of the few who actually liked the new UI. It was really nice at first. Then it kind of got boring. With its meager supply of apps, its kind of hard to get enthused about using the modern UI.
    Apparently people got confused about switching between UIs. I have more trouble distinguishing the nomenclature of the UIs. Open the app. No, I meant the metro- erm, modern app. You know, the tiles interface!

    I honestly think Windows lives on Office, PC gamers and business alone. I know many people who use Windows exclusively for gaming and because they're required to run Windows-only software. They're trapped, the poor fools. Want to run a game? sorry, windows only. I don't have a problem installing bootcamp, but I tend to just not play a game if it's Windows only. It's still not a optimal experience. I get away with using OS X because I run VM.

    I'm not saying Windows is all bad. By no means am I saying OS X is perfect either. But I have to say it's truly a pleasure to use OS X. It's the best experience I have ever had using a computer. All the gestures, and small features like launchpad/mission control/spaces/etc. are perfect.

    I have very few complaints to make about OS X. Installing programs without using Wizards is one of the nicest things. (Well, there has been the odd one or two). Iconography is visually appealing. The UI in general is very inviting. But there's a lot of power behind the eye candy. It's just a very use-able operating system.

    I can't really think of anything else to say. To each his own, but don't accuse me of being a mere enthusiast. In this day and age, I'm more or less an average customer.

    Well, I just thought about people who switch.
    Talking to some people, I realize that there are quite a few people who seem to know next to squat about computing. But they all have similar complaints. So many updates, viruses (funny, but I never got any viruses when I was using Windows), not like modern UI, etc.

    I kind of feel like most of them just listen to what other people say; I didn't see a problem with Vista or 8. I mean, I was a hardcore fanboy, so I was going to stick with Microsoft anyways.

    Anyways, then they get a Mac and everything changes. whewww.

    I don't hear a lot about people who switch from Mac to PC. I guess, there is one person I know. They have a MacBook (the one with a hard drive) that's in somewhat poor condition. They can't play the games they want, etc.
    Fair enough.

    I kind of digressed from the original topic. Oh well.

    td;lr I was going to buy a surface pro 3 and then i realized it sucked and bought a Macbook instead.
  13. skaertus macrumors 68030


    Feb 23, 2009
    OS X consumes less battery than Windows. In addition, the high-resolution screen of the Surface Pro 3 consumes more battery than the lower-resolution screen on the Air. Considering all that, the battery life of the Surface is pretty impressive.

    I don't know about the Air, but my Pro does not have heating problems at normal usage. Sometimes it gets warm, though.

    The configuration of the Air is also pre-defined. OK, you may choose different processors, RAM and storage, but the choice is pretty much limited. And usually you can only get those on the Apple store, paying the full price of the product and not getting any discounts.

    The Surface Pro 3 has a superior screen, and you may take that into consideration as well.

    The choice between Windows and OS X is not always a matter of taste. OK, you may argue that Windows is inconvenient and not funny to use and that the trackpad on the Mac is much superior.

    Comparing the two operating systems per se is poor, however. You should take into consideration what is the most important thing – software. Is software available for the platform? Where is the best software?

    Some people like playing games. For playing games, OS X is a very poor choice. Buy a Windows machine if you want that. But not a Surface Pro 3. You should buy an all-powerful desktop or, at least, a gamer laptop. The MacBook Air is definitely not suitable for it.

    Other people do not play games. Most of them use an office suite. And the best office suite by far is Microsoft Office. Office for Mac is crappy and buggy and bloated. Office for Windows is an amazing piece of software. So, if you want to use an office suite, the Surface Pro 3 is a better machine than the Air.

    For browsing the Internet, or doing very simple stuff, either is fine. But in the moment you need more specific and powerful software, Windows usually has the advantage.

    You said you know just one person that migrated from OS X to Windows. Well, I may be the second one. Let me digress a little bit too.

    I have always used a PC. In 2008, I bought my first Mac, a white MacBook. It was fine and good at first. In 2011, I decided that I had to buy another laptop, as that one was getting old. I was disappointed at the Mac platform because of the absence of a decent office suite, as Office for Mac was (and still is) so inferior to Office for Windows, and iWork is not up to the task.

    I then was disappointed by the quality of hardware in the Windows laptop I bought. In 2013, I decided to buy a 15-inch MacBook Pro with retina display. The hardware is great, but it lacks software. Office for Windows is still much superior, and other software (such as OCR) is better on Windows too. I can run Windows on Boot Camp, but the drivers are poor and the experience is poor as a result. I can run Windows on Parallels, but there is a performance penalty. That said, I am thinking of switching to a Windows laptop again.

    So, there is no perfect machine. The Mac is not perfect as Mac enthusiasts think it is, as it has several limitations and shortcomings. And Windows is not perfect either. You have to choose which one suits you better.
  14. joshlalonde macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2014
    Yes, I forgot about the screen. That's one more point for the Surface. I honestly don't care about a retina display, but if that matters to you, that may be something to consider.

    I have to disagree about your notion of configurations. In order to get more storage, you must upgrade the processor. There is no i3 option for the Mac, anyways, but you can upgrade all the specs separately. want more RAM? okay. don't want a better cpu? okay.

    Regarding software choices, that is also an important decision. But usability and enjoyment of experience are also important.

    Pages does not have all the power of Office, but it is much more usable. The problem with Office is that there are too many features that Microsoft tried to organize and hide into submenus and such.

    But for Office use alone, I would not switch to Windows.
    And for what reason do people use Windows for gaming, and not use OS X?
    It has little to do with capabilities. It's all about availability.

    There are no perfect machines, though I have to say the MacBook Air is far more than I could have expected.
  15. skaertus macrumors 68030


    Feb 23, 2009
    Apart from pixel density, the display on the Surface Pro 3 is IPS, while the MacBook Air has a TN screen. Viewing angles on the IPS screen are much better, and the screen is better overall. In addition, the Surface Pro 3 screen has a 3:2 ratio, similar to the Chromebook Pixel, while the Air has a 16:10 screen. The 3:2 is overall better for productivity than the 16:10 screen, but it is very rare to find. The 16:10 format of the Air is good, however, and better than the 16:9 ratio used in almost all laptops these days.

    The MacBook Air allows for these configurations. You can upgrade separately, which is useful. However, you will have to do that on Apple Store, and pay the full price. You will probably be not able to take advantage of discounts offered by stores as they usually do not sell customized models. On the other hand, the Surface Pro 3, like most Windows laptops, is more likely to be discounted as time goes by.

    Usability and enjoyment are definitely important. But software is even more important. If you cannot get your work done properly, then all the usability and enjoyability of the OS are worth nothing. First, the device must do what you need it to do. Second, it must do it in a nice way. But then it depends on what you use your software to.

    One thing that I blame Mac enthusiasts (and also Linux enthusiasts) of doing is forgetting about software and putting all their energy in comparing features of the operating systems. Linux is a no-go for me not because of its usability (although I have to confess it is crap), but mainly because of the lack of quality software.

    If Windows or OS X is better, it matters only to a certain extent. First, make sure any of them can do the job properly. If one of them can't, then it is useless, no matter how nice it is. Second, once you are assured that both can perform anything you want, compare their features and usability.

    I have to disagree.

    iWork does not have the power of Microsoft Office. In fact, it lacks so much power that it is only useful if you have the most basic needs. Pages cannot even do cross-references, which is a basic feature of word processors.

    Said that, Word is much more usable than Pages. You may be comparing Office for Mac to iWork. Don't. Office for Mac is crappy and it lacks usability. Now, compare Office for Windows to iWork. Office for Windows is much superior in every single way. Word for Windows offers grammar check in several languages, it offers synonyms to the terms that you use, it superscripts "st", "nd", "rd", "th" automatically, it goes automatically to the page where you were when you quit the document. It has tons of features well-organized and easy to use, all in tabs, and you can customize them if you want. It is a joy to use, and you cannot compare it to anything else. Pages is crap, it has a minimalistic interface and most of its poor set of functions are hidden in menus. You cannot compare them, they are not even in the same category.

    There is no problem with Office. The problem is, Mac users try to use Office for Mac and find it crap, but they don't need the power features anyway. Office for Windows is an entirely new world, and I wish Microsoft would release a similar version for Mac.

    It's because you don't need Office. If you worked in a corporate environment where Microsoft Office is ubiquitous, and nothing else can replace it, then perhaps you would think differently.

    Of course. Games are available for Windows, not for Mac. Capability doesn't matter here, nobody cares about it. Said that, Microsoft Windows supports both DirectX and OpenGL while OS X supports only OpenGL. Microsoft Windows is more capable than OS X in this field, and also has more availability of games.

    The MacBook Air is a great machine if you don't need a great screen (its screen is fine, but OK, nothing extraordinary), and OS X is great if you don't need Microsoft Office and gaming or any other specific software for Windows. The keyboard and trackpad are very good, and of course much better than the ones in the Surface Pro 3 –*the device is a tablet after all, and the keyboard/trackpad cover thing is nice but will never top the real thing, especially a well-implemented one. And the trackpad in Macs is the best overall, and the keyboard is better than in most Windows laptops.
  16. stjames70 macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2009
    Try it Out!!!!

    I have the original Surface and a MacBook 13" circa 2009.

    I use the MacBook. The Surface collects dust.

    Try the SP3 out for a week before you buy it.

    As everyone has said here, it comes down to personal preferences, and despite the excellent compact code of Win8, I could not for the life of me get used to the the Win8 tablet experience. On a desktop, I am fine with it, but on the Surface, I could not get used to it. Maybe with the SP3 which has a larger screen, you may like it better, but I am a solid no on buying the SP3. Just not as comfortable feel as Apple's laptops in my personal opinion.

    Try the SP3 out before you buy it.

    I regret terribly buying the Surface: capable? for sure; functional? yup; usability? questionable....at least in my opinion. For me it did nothing more than an iPad or MacBook could do better.

    So these days, the Surface sits, somewhere in my office, all lonely. :p
  17. m98custom1212 macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2013
    Toledo, Ohio
    If you worked in office where every machine is windows and office is everywhere you would understand. Even college most colleges use windows and office.

    The surface pro 3 is vast superior to the macbook air and ipad isnt even comparison.
  18. joshlalonde macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2014
    I understand quite well. Im not foreign to Office. All the computers run Windows and Office at my college. I'm also a former fanboy, so I used Microsoft products extensively. I still have Windows Phone 8.1 preview installed on my phone.

    To each his own, but I find that the Surface Pro 3 is a joke. That's why I didn't buy it.
  19. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    I recently went to see a client to help him setup his SP3, I found it incredibly frustrating to use for the few hours I had to work with it, the cover\keyboard had a terrible trackpad, half the time the mouse wouldn't show up on the screen, the unit crashed once for no apparent reason as well. I found the overall experience to be dissatisfying. I have used Windows computers with office for over 20 years and myself switched to using Mac's almost 2 years ago because I had had enough of Windows. Windows 8(.1) is the most frustrating OS to use and on a tablet its worse. I agree, if you get one, try it out for a week and see how you like it first.
  20. phositadc macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    SP3 user here. Didn't read the entire thread so sorry if I'm redundant.

    IMO, for handwriting notes, annotating PDFs, PPTs, or anything else, the SP3 is unmatched by anything else. I *wish* Apple had a comparable product, but it simply does not. Having an active digitizer in the SP3 is simply an infinitely better solution than the capacative stylus options on iPad.

    I highly recommend the SP3 for the use you described in the OP. MS store has 30 day return policy. Buy one and see if you like it. If not, no harm no foul (except a bit of wasted time perhaps).
  21. MilleDav01 thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2012
    Thanks Everyone!

    Thanks everyone for the replies. Im still on the fence because I returned my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1....

    I tried the SP3 for about 10 minutes and really enjoyed the writing experiance on it but NOT windows 8.1.

    I love OS X Yosemite (Been using it since beta 1) and don't really want to change.

    I wish I had the money to get the least expensive surface pro 3 and keep my MBA but I don't :(

    Sucks to be me lol
  22. squeezeman macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2014
    I use my SP3 for real office work when I don't want to use my Thinkpad. My MBA is for everything else not work. I don't do "creative work" mainly spreadsheets and presentations. I need my keyboard shortcuts in Office in Windows.

    I had a late rMBP 13" 256/8, sold that to get the Surface Pro 3 256/8 and then recently (like yesterday) picked up a MBA 13" so I can use OSX again. SP3 is awkward to use other than on a desk (PC mode). It's not really "lap-able" - my gut gets in the way :D But damn the SP3 is cool and really portable.
  23. skaertus macrumors 68030


    Feb 23, 2009
    Don't you miss the trackpad of the ThinkPad?

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