Seriously considering a Surface Pro 3

mentaluproar

macrumors 68000
Original poster
May 25, 2010
1,731
130
Ohio, USA
I’m looking at getting a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. I’ve watched the Surface from the beginning and while I really liked it, thought it was just not there yet until now. It’s all grown up and, surprisingly, I don’t hate using Windows 8 on this thing. This is exactly what that OS was designed for.

I already have an iPad 4, a rMBP, and iPhone 5s. The iPad sees next to no use at home. I only use it in classes to record lectures, take notes, and edit a paper to print at the last minute if I catch something I missed. All heavy lifting is done with my rMBP, which is for the most part a desktop replacement.

I do not like taking the Macbook out of the house because it’s a big expensive thing with no insurace against a busted screen. For classes, my iPad can do the job fine. I was thinking of using Notability this semester as I have just had enough of my old notetaking apps and thought something new would be better, and aside from how it handles Powerpoint import, I like it.

The iPad 4 has a few things on there I really would like to bring over to the Surface Pro. I don’t plan on keeping both as the sale of the iPad (with unused applecare+) will offset the cost of a Surface enough for me to buy one. Flipboard is avaliable on both, which is great because that is how I spend my lunchtime on campus. Square register is useful when I do computer repairs but I can always do that on my phone. My Synology apps are important, but I can access it with Internet Explorer if I have to, which is actually nice in metro mode on a touchscreen device.

Office is available free from my university so that is covered. For presentations though, I will still bring in my macbook as I prefer keynote to powerpoint. Blackboard Learn is a fantastic app. It grants me easy access to lecture slides and assignments and even pushes grades and other notifications to me. I’m not really addicted to the Coursesmart eTextbooks app as that has always been a pretty terrible experience on my iPad. Notability looks very useful, but I don’t think anything like that is available for the Surface. All I can find is Onenote, but I couldn’t try it because I need to sign in with a Microsoft account. Has anyone used it to record lectures, import the occasional slide, and type up notes? How was that experience?

As for my other observations:
- The type cover keyboard is a joke. The touchpad is very impressive for what it is, but the keyboard is absolutely horrendous. I’m not just spoiled by my Apple keyboard. I have touch typed for 3 semesters just fine with my iPad. It can get annoying at times, but I can really move on that thing. Microsoft’s on-screen keyboard was very impressive, and that kickstand felt much more secure than my iPad’s smart cover.
- While I don’t use it often, the stylus would be nice. I have a jot for my iPad but the lack of palm rejection was always a problem. Chem class was hellish there. The stylus was more useful for highlighting than anything else.
- I can forgive poor battery life if the Surface charges rapidly. My iPad lasts forever and it charges about as fast as my iPhone. It’s as if it were powered by will alone.
- I must have an Applecare equivalent if that thing is going to travel with me. No, Best Buy’s ****** repair service where they basically borrow your broken equipment and return it in slightly better condition will not do. Fortunately, Microsoft has complete, which is pretty much Applecare+ for the Surface.
- The Surface uses cooling fans. Therefore, it will be moving dusty air in and out of it. I must have a way to blow out that dust from time to time. This is not a device that can be opened and cleaned. I’m hesitant to buy something that is actively cooled and has no way to blow the dust out.
 
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Rodster

macrumors 68040
May 15, 2007
3,178
6
Have you looked at the Lenovo Yoga Pro 2? Those are pretty slick as well and the way it transforms from tablet to laptop is really nice. :)
 

KillaMac

Suspended
May 25, 2013
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Actually the keyboard on the surface pro 3 is one of the best I have seen and used. It is much better than the old pro 2. I just spent a week at Microsoft corporate in Redmond, WA last week, and saw MANY of these in use by people visiting to people running the event. They were used for presentations, etc. I wanted one right there as I have used ipads, and android tablets in the past, and the way this one works it fits the bill for a laptop replacement that does everything a laptop does and a tablet in one. Well worth the money.
 

mentaluproar

macrumors 68000
Original poster
May 25, 2010
1,731
130
Ohio, USA
Actually the keyboard on the surface pro 3 is one of the best I have seen and used. It is much better than the old pro 2. I just spent a week at Microsoft corporate in Redmond, WA last week, and saw MANY of these in use by people visiting to people running the event. They were used for presentations, etc. I wanted one right there as I have used ipads, and android tablets in the past, and the way this one works it fits the bill for a laptop replacement that does everything a laptop does and a tablet in one. Well worth the money.
I've heard many love that keyboard but this one just felt loose. There was next to no resistance on the keys and they felt like they would move sideways rather than a solid up and down.
 

ozaz

macrumors 65816
Feb 27, 2011
1,266
285
UK
In your original post it doesn't come across (to me at least), why you specifically need/want a tablet-type device like a SP3 or iPad.

Since Windows as a productivity environment doesn't seem quite right for you (e.g. want to use Keynote instead of Powerpoint for presentations) and since you don't seem to make much use of iPad as a consumption device, I wonder if the best thing would be to replace both the rMBP and the iPad with a nice, light, and not too expensive MBA with a good insurance plan?
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
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Boston
I've heard many love that keyboard but this one just felt loose. There was next to no resistance on the keys and they felt like they would move sideways rather than a solid up and down.
When I was deciding to buy the SP3 (I opted not too), I found the keyboard to be manageable. Not great, but not horrible. A laptop keyboard is clearly superior, but the SP3's keyboard was decent.

I found that the SP3 offered a lot for my needs, the laptop was a better option. My little wrinkle in this, is that I'd have to sell my rMBP to buy the SP3. I'd be giving up on a quad core dGPU equipped laptop with 16 GB of ram. At the end of the day, the decision to keep my current setup made too much sense.
 

Breaking Good

macrumors 65816
Sep 28, 2012
1,177
777
In your original post it doesn't come across (to me at least), why you specifically need/want a tablet-type device like a SP3 or iPad.

Since Windows as a productivity environment doesn't seem quite right for you (e.g. want to use Keynote instead of Powerpoint for presentations) and since you don't seem to make much use of iPad as a consumption device, I wonder if the best thing would be to replace both the rMBP and the iPad with a nice, light, and not too expensive MBA with a good insurance plan?
This was my thinking also. The OP may be happier with a previous generation MacBook Air.
 

xraydoc

macrumors demi-god
Oct 9, 2005
7,249
1,521
192.168.1.1
My take on the Surface Pro 3 after 1 month of ownership (from a MacBook Air owner):

I really love this machine. The keyboard cover is actually not that bad at all. I've got no trouble typing on it. The trackpad is just ok - definitely better than most PC laptop trackpads, but not nearly as big/roomy as the MacBook. The other caveat is that the tap-to-click is not defeatable, so I tend to accidentally click sometimes.

The pen is great. I love being able to take handwritten notes with OneNote. OneNote 2013 will perform text recognition on the handwritten notes automatically, making all my notes searchable. Love it. It's the killer feature for me. Love being able to view full-page PDFs and annotize with the pen but still touch the screen without "inking" like with a stylus on an iPad.

Does a fine job as a tablet for web browsing, reading or email. Not as light as an iPad, but the huge screen is great for reading off of.

Since it runs Windows 8.1 Pro, access to the full Office 2013 suite, desktop Chrome, Firefox, Citrix and virtually any other PC app is something that isn't doable on an iPad. Should I need iTunes, it'll of course run the Windows version. And since it'll sync OneDrive and DropBox files in the background, I've got immediate and offline access to all my stuff.

I also have the docking station, which essentially turns it in to a desktop machine (external monitor, keyboard, mouse, gigabit ethernet, multiple USB 3 ports, etc.).

At this point, I don't see myself going back to an iPad + MacBook combination.
 

mentaluproar

macrumors 68000
Original poster
May 25, 2010
1,731
130
Ohio, USA
I went to a Microsoft store today to ask people who actually knew the product about it. This this was built for college. That is exactly what this tablet is for, and while I was able to make do with an iPad and rMBP the past few semesters, this was built specifically for that setting. Onenote is amazing, though I wish I could get the thing to embed audio in metro mode. While the college apps are better in ios, the actual functionality is so much better here.

I will be keeping the rMBP. If I want anything powerful if I need to type for a long time, nothing will replace the rMBP. But as of today, I am pretty much set on a surface.

It was weird when one of the employees offered my boyfriend and I a drink. Literally asked "Can I get you anything? We have soda, water...."

Props for calling it "soda."
 

Dick Whitman

macrumors 6502
Oct 16, 2012
437
77
The pen is great. I love being able to take handwritten notes with OneNote. OneNote 2013 will perform text recognition on the handwritten notes automatically, making all my notes searchable. Love it. It's the killer feature for me. Love being able to view full-page PDFs and annotize with the pen but still touch the screen without "inking" like with a stylus on an iPad.
Any idea why the iPad exhibits that weird "inking" feature? I really wish I could use my iPad Mini with a digital pen but without the lag and unnatural motion.
 

mentaluproar

macrumors 68000
Original poster
May 25, 2010
1,731
130
Ohio, USA
seriously considering a surface pro 3

I got one. It's definitely not as stable or seamless as an iPad but as a PC it's amazing.
 
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mentaluproar

macrumors 68000
Original poster
May 25, 2010
1,731
130
Ohio, USA
seriously considering a surface pro 3

Mac runs better overall, surface lets you use that pen. If you only want a laptop, I say grab the air. If you want a laptop and a tablet, get the surface.

Hit a Microsoft store if you can. They really took that apple store thing a few steps further. I liked it even more.

I find the Surface SSD is faster than my Retina MacBook Pro SSD. The Apple SSD has a lag to it that I always hated. My old Mac Mini had a Corsair Neutron GTX which felt faster, though. The Samsung chip in this device is flawless.
 
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ozaz

macrumors 65816
Feb 27, 2011
1,266
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UK
Any idea why the iPad exhibits that weird "inking" feature? I really wish I could use my iPad Mini with a digital pen but without the lag and unnatural motion.
iPads don't have the display technology for proper inking that you get with various Windows tablets and and Samsung Galaxy Note devices (where the display senses the presence of the stylus and actively adjusts the way it responds to contact accordingly).

It's something I've wished was present in iPads since iPad 1.

To an iPad, a stylus just appears as a finger. The exception is the styluses that use bluetooth to communicate with the iPad, but these are just limited to individual apps rather than to the whole OS.
 

maflynn

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May 3, 2009
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Boston
I'm in a tossup over this and a MBA for uni.
Lots of typing, the MBA is the winner imo, if you want to take notes with the pen and use OneNote. The SP3 may have an edge.

The SP3 is not a bad product but I think you need to vet out its strengths and weaknesses before plunking down the money for one.
 

sracer

macrumors G3
Apr 9, 2010
8,361
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Prescott Valley, AZ
I got one. It's definitely not as stable or seamless as an iPad but as a PC it's amazing.
That has been my conclusion as well. Anyone thinking that the SP3 will be as pick-up-and-use appliance-like as the iPad will most likely be disappointed. As a notebook, it's fine. As a tablet (depending upon individual use cases) not so much.

After spending 9 months with Surface devices, I came to the conclusion that they're not quite ready yet and that an iPad + MacBook Air is a better fit for me than the SP3.

But it in the end it's highly subjective based on what an individual uses their devices for.
 

Dick Whitman

macrumors 6502
Oct 16, 2012
437
77
That has been my conclusion as well. Anyone thinking that the SP3 will be as pick-up-and-use appliance-like as the iPad will most likely be disappointed. As a notebook, it's fine. As a tablet (depending upon individual use cases) not so much.

After spending 9 months with Surface devices, I came to the conclusion that they're not quite ready yet and that an iPad + MacBook Air is a better fit for me than the SP3.

But it in the end it's highly subjective based on what an individual uses their devices for.
You're probably right. Having been embedded in the Apple ecosystem for so long, I imagine it would be difficult to try and jump ship. The biggest advantage Apple has with its ecosystem is continuity and providing an experience where devices work seamlessly with one another. That, and the rumors of future devices, makes me inclined to just sit still, however difficult that may be, and to keep on waiting. It's sad that pretty much with all devices now, it's not until the fourth or so generation, that a product truly provides the best experience. I love my MBA, but the poor resolution, large bezels, and increasingly dated form factor have me itching to upgrade at some point in the near future.

----------

iPads don't have the display technology for proper inking that you get with various Windows tablets and and Samsung Galaxy Note devices (where the display senses the presence of the stylus and actively adjusts the way it responds to contact accordingly).

It's something I've wished was present in iPads since iPad 1.

To an iPad, a stylus just appears as a finger. The exception is the styluses that use bluetooth to communicate with the iPad, but these are just limited to individual apps rather than to the whole OS.
I really hope Apple incorporates some of that display technology into their future iPads and all while still preserving image integrity (e.g. no backlight bleeding, tinting effects, etc.). The ability to write on an iPad, fluidity and naturally, would really make it more useful for business, at least for my purposes anyway. It's interesting too to think where the iPad Mini will fit in the current product lineup (especially in relation to 4.7" and 5.5" iPhones).
 

rowspaxe

macrumors 68020
Jan 29, 2010
2,092
887
The pen is great. I love being able to take handwritten notes with OneNote. OneNote 2013 will perform text recognition on the handwritten notes automatically, making all my notes searchable. Love it. It's the killer feature for me. Love being able to view full-page PDFs and annotize with the pen but still touch the screen without "inking" like with a stylus on an iPad.
Like you--i love this device. But I would not recommend to anyone who wont use the pen, or doesnt have specifice use for the 12" tablet--like technical reading. I still see this as a work in progress ( I have the 2)--but they made a lot of progress this year!

I am trying to stay with the sp2 because I spent money on it--but it gets harder every trip to the BestBuy microsoft table
 
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mentaluproar

macrumors 68000
Original poster
May 25, 2010
1,731
130
Ohio, USA
seriously considering a surface pro 3

My handwriting is terrible so the pen isn't that useful for me there. I can type much faster, even with the touch screen, than I can write.

Still, I would have killed to have had this device in my chem classes.

It's definitely not as stable as iPad. I have had to shut it down by holding the power button a few times because nothing would show up on the screen.
 

mentaluproar

macrumors 68000
Original poster
May 25, 2010
1,731
130
Ohio, USA
seriously considering a surface pro 3

See, it generally works that way for me, but sometimes I'll open it, the keyboard backlight kicks on, and nothing appears. The tablet will vibrate when I hit the Microsoft button, but that's it. I have to force it to shut down.

I've also noticed the occasional game will murder this battery. Plague inc is no kinder to this tablet that it is to my iPhone and ePSXe is just as hungry. The fan spins into leafblower mode, tablet gets hot, frame rates drop. It will take some tinkering before I'm happy with that element.

It's odd that the device has an easier time with portal 2 than a playstation emulator or plague inc.

I live in Akron, m98.
 

swarley

macrumors newbie
Jul 13, 2014
17
0
I'm in a similar situation as a college student (computer science and web/graphic design). I too have an rMBP which is my main machine but am still very interested in the SP3, specifically for the form factor, OneNote, and stylus integration, not to mention full Windows. It would be nice to be able to bring the SP3 back and forth from campus instead of my 15in rMBP. Anyways...

Does anybody have experience with digital textbooks and OneNote? I think that will be the deciding factor for me. I have PDF versions of most of my textbooks and would love to be able to just carry the SP3 instead of all the textbooks. How is annotation? Is it really worth the price tag? I would really appreciate all feedback but specifically from college students.
 

mackinmike

macrumors 6502a
May 3, 2012
525
369
if you plan on using it on your lap, i recommend not getting the sp3. for note taking and annotations, it works really well. i use to carry my laptop and tablet around but every since i got the sp3, i feel no need to carry both now.

u can always try it out at the store. be aware there's a wifi driver issue that is affecting some users with certain APs.
 

philippp

macrumors newbie
Apr 23, 2014
13
0
See, it generally works that way for me, but sometimes I'll open it, the keyboard backlight kicks on, and nothing appears. The tablet will vibrate when I hit the Microsoft button, but that's it. I have to force it to shut down.

I've also noticed the occasional game will murder this battery. Plague inc is no kinder to this tablet that it is to my iPhone and ePSXe is just as hungry. The fan spins into leafblower mode, tablet gets hot, frame rates drop. It will take some tinkering before I'm happy with that element.

It's odd that the device has an easier time with portal 2 than a playstation emulator or plague inc.

I live in Akron, m98.
With specs did u buy? I'm thinking about getting the entry level for basic note taking on university that one with an i3 and 64gb storage, will it suit my needs?