Surface Pro 3 First Impressions

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by soulreaver99, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. soulreaver99 macrumors 68030


    Aug 15, 2010
    Southern California
    Sold my MacBook Air 13" 2013 i7. I am loving the Surface Pro 3. I've had the Surface Pro 1 and 2 and returned those after trying them out for two weeks. However with the Surface Pro 3 I am instantly in love with this thing.

    Here are my thoughts on it so far...


    • Much thinner form factor than it's predecessors. Also lighter
    • Screen is much easier to read in desktop mode thanks to the 3:2 ratio
    • Windows 8.1 still has it's quirks but has come a long way
    • My work involves a lot of travel - don't have to take this out of the bag at the airports
    • The Surface Pro 3's pen is the best that it has ever been for note taking. Love how well executed One Note is too
    • Don't need to worry about the compromises of an iOS or Android tablet
    • You get the full working desktop experience of a desktop in the form of a tablet
    • Battery life isn't as good as the MacBook Air but it does last through an 8-hour workday
    • Really cool when using this hooked up with another monitor and mouse. It knows to use natural scrolling in Metro mode, and standard scrolling in desktop mode!
    • Very good overall performance - I have several apps open at once and it has not slowed down
    • Kickstand is very well executed and has flexible viewing angles
    • Keyboard is great, although not as good as the MacBook Air's but it's pretty darn close
    • Touchscreen makes a huge difference in working on a computer. Super useful and more efficient to navigate through the OS, websites, etc
    • Touch interface for Microsoft Office is well done
    • Thanks to the cloud, syncing between my iMac and Surface has been pretty seamless such as One Note, Evernote, and DropBox


    • Swinging back and forth between my iMac and Surface Pro due to different OS took some time to get used to... like 2 hours. For a geek, that's an eternity.
    • It sometimes gets warm depending on the intensity of your applications so I wouldn't recommend using this on your lap for long periods of time. Look for a desk or table if you are doing serious work, if not tablet mode works great. I value the longevity of my huevos.
    • Metro mode still needs more time to develop. For simple apps and to use as a consumption device, the iPad Air is still the best, which is why I am keeping it for bed and couch surfing.
    • Third party Metro apps suck for the most part, you are better off using the desktop version
    • If you rely heavily on Google calendar, either use the web version or switch to Outlook
  2. GoingDark macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2013
    How are the built-in speakers compared to previous Surface devices and your MacBook Air?

    And just out of curiosity...which colour type cover did you get? :p
  3. dkersten macrumors 6502a

    Nov 5, 2010
    Could you elaborate on note taking, specifically with the stylus? I'm interested in a SP3 for note taking in school and for rough sketches. Also which version of One Note are you using? From my understanding there are two versions, a mobile version and a full desktop version. How has your use in One Note integrated into the other parts of your digital life (assuming it did)? Thanks for any feedback in advance!
  4. soulreaver99 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Aug 15, 2010
    Southern California
    I just created a Youtube video comparing the MBA and the SP3 so you can see and hear for yourself!

    I got the black type cover.


    I am using both the mobile and the desktop versions of One Note. The desktop version comes with Office 2013 but you can rely on the mobile version.

    I work as a Sales Director for a telecom company and have a lot of meetings and conference calls. When I want to take a note, I could go the boring route and use pen and paper or I could use an iPad with stylus or finger which gets cumbersome, or I can just type it out on Evernote which isn't always practical!

    When using One Note, it's just as good as pen and paper. If I want to quickly take a note, I just click on the top part of the stylus and One Note mobile quickly opens and I can jot down a note. When I'm done, it's automatically uploaded onto the cloud and I can access it from any computer with One Note, or simply login to my Outlook account to view or organize. Been working out great so far.
  5. aajeevlin, Jul 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014

    aajeevlin macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2010
    Maybe I can help with couple of these questions as well. I have the SP1 (which is similar to the SP2). I tried the SP3 at Microsoft store the other day and my first impression was okay. Writing on the SP1/2 is like writing on glass, it's very slippery but I grew to like it. Writing on the SP3 you can certainly feel a bit more resistance, it's not as slippery as the older version. I don't like it just "yet", but maybe if I actually own it I'll get use to it.

    I personally use the full version (I have used it several years ago as well), I can't really speak much to the difference, but whenever I try the Onenote app in the store I also find it a bit confusing. But then again, maybe I just need more time with it.

    As for life changing, I'd say nothing out of what I already knew I was going to do with it. I read a lot of technical books as well as papers, and I like to keep what I read organized. So when I start a new book, I would typically create a book "ABC for Beginner", and I would break into chapters and sections. I use my SP1 strictly for note taking, and what's why I really bought it in the first place, beyond that I'm a Mac user. I use dropbox to keep my notes sync in case the SP1 gets stolen or die on me. If I have to say, I'd say that the combination of Wacom + full version Onenote is nothing that the iPad can compete with. I had an 8 years old Fujitsu Wacom tablet, just so I can use it for note taking, that was before I switched to the SP1.

    Anyways, I hope that help. I bought the SP1 with the full intension of taking notes and nothing else, and so far it's working out well.
  6. ATC, Jul 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014

    ATC macrumors 65816

    Apr 25, 2008
    I was at BB yesterday and had a chance to test out the i5/128GB model with the type cover.

    I was never a big fan of the previous models (SP1 and 2) but the 3 is an entirely different beast. Everything about it impressed me to the point I was very close to buying one on the spot.

    The screen is fantastic and it ran W8.1 smoother than my iMac via Bootcamp; scrolling graphic-heavy sites in IE was shockingly slick.

    The keyboard on the Type Cover was surprisingly good. I found the trackpad responsive but it was too small for any extended use; of course that's coming from someone who uses the gigantic magic trackpad daily so naturally every other trackpad out there is "small".

    I can't quite commit to one yet, I really don't know if I'll make real use of one, but I can see why a lot of people love this thing. MSFT really hit it out of the park IMO with the 3.
  7. MozMan68 macrumors 68020


    Jun 29, 2010
    Right here...
    Mine just showed up yesterday afternoon and I actually like it more than I thought I would.

    I switched to Windows Phone 6 months ago just for the heck of it and enjoyed it despite the huge change from being on ios since the beginning. The Surface seemed the next logical step since my company is so heavily integrated with MS software.

    Having never used Windows 8 before on a PC, I was actually surprised at the number of metro apps available that I don't have on WP, like Wall Street Journal and the password app I used on my iPad

    The combination of laptop and tablet features work well for me so far. I agree that the keyboard is required for the full Surface experience, but I'm surprised by the number of reviews or comments that act like it HAS to he used or attached at all times.

    I'm in bed right now with it propped on my lap perfectly thanks to the kickstand without using the keyboard...I'm in bed and in "tablet mode" for me. Typing on the onscreen keyboard is so much easier thanks to the kickstand. When I'm in my family room and sitting in my chair, it works fine with the keyboard attached... or not.... that's the point. I probably could have actually survived pretty well without the keyboard, but I really do like it and is perfect when sitting at my desk to do actual work... and I like it as a cover.

    I'm going to try and switch to 100% digital note taking when hack at work on Monday. That's what I'm really looking forward to.
  8. ob81 macrumors 65816


    Jun 11, 2007
    Virginia Beach
    I just grabbed one of these yesterday. I had an ASUS notebook that I had been using for school, but I gave it to my brother who is starting college soon.

    I have been using Macbooks in some form since the 12" power pc days, so it was a big step for me to breakdown and purchase one.

    Right from the initial setup, I could tell that Microsoft really stepped their game up with this release of the SP. The feel and weight of the device is great. I purchased the 8gb ram 256gb HD version, and this thing is fast with no hangups. I grabbed one of the keyboards to go with it, and that is great as well. This thing could technically handle all of the things that I need and then some.

    Sadly, I am still managing to have some buyer's remorse with the device. It cost me an even $1500. While I enjoy it, there is something that keeps nagging me with the price, and the fact that I have to pay so much to switch, when I can pay $500 less to get a great MBA and not worry about any learning curves or making adujustments.

    If the surface pro had Mac OS on it, it would be the perfect device I think. If it came with the keyboard, and cost around $1300, I think it would be a little easier to feel great about the switch. They compared this with the MBA though, but you need to spend more money to make this like a MBA. This thing is a marval of a device though, and I may just be one of those people that have been using Mac products for so long, that change isn't an option.
  9. MozMan68 macrumors 68020


    Jun 29, 2010
    Right here...
    I bought the identical model/keyboard as you did...with an education discount combined with a FatWallet discount, I saved over $200.

    And to be fair...$1,500 includes tax as the total for the two is $1,429. Apple charges tax as well...:p
  10. ob81 macrumors 65816


    Jun 11, 2007
    Virginia Beach
    That is a great price for the keyboard and the 8gb version. If I had a MS store around I probably would do it.

    Not sure what you mean on your second portion. The $1500 does include tax, and I could get a decent Mac like I said for $500, including tax on the Mac. It is actually a little more right now counting the sales at Bestbuy. I could grab a MBA base for a little over $800.
  11. MozMan68 macrumors 68020


    Jun 29, 2010
    Right here...
    I don't have a store near me... did it all online!
  12. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009

    I don't use the Metro interface with my windows 8.1 machine, though its not a tablet/touchscreen which may change the equation.

    I think you'll adjust to the differences in the operating systems, I bounce back and forth between OS X and Windows all the time, though I still try ctl-c on OS X and cmd-c on windows :p

    Nice write up and that seems to align with my thoughts on the SP3, though I've not taken the plunge.

    How's the kick stand holding up, I wondered about the durability of that in the short and long term.
  13. soulreaver99 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Aug 15, 2010
    Southern California
    I use the kick stand all the time. I never realized how handy it was especially when watching movies on a plane. It's really adjustable and I every different situation has a different angle so I am working it daily. Kickstand so far has showed no signs of wear :D
  14. MozMan68 macrumors 68020


    Jun 29, 2010
    Right here...
    I'm flying with mine for the first time Monday morning and cannot wait. Company issued laptop has been locked up at work every night since I got the Surface. No longer have the need to ever take it home or on a trip again!:)
  15. christophermdia macrumors 6502a


    Sep 28, 2008
    I have debated this "all-in-one" device for quite some time now. I said, we'll if I'm going to do it then I'm going to go as big as I could, so preordered the SP3 i7 512. Well while I have been waiting for it some bumps in the road came along ... The most serious one being my company won't support it as of yet so connecting to emails and our intranet servers will be all web based at best, which is a big hassle. The second thing was the fact I travel A LOT and on the plane I tend to use my iPad air mostly. Well the depth of games and apps that allow me to stay entertained or working is just immense. The windows store has only a handful of things that are poorly executed at that. So while the full computer power is nice, I just don't know if tablet mode is going to be a good experience in the long run.

    Any thoughts on some of you that have been using the SP's ? How is the iPad still mixed in your daily activities. Especially for travelers.

    P.S. I cancelled my preorder to further evaluate mainly based on the non-support from my company.
  16. MozMan68 macrumors 68020


    Jun 29, 2010
    Right here...
    For me, it has completely replaced my iPad. To be fair, I was never a huge tablet gamer outside of Angry Birds (on Windows) or Candy Crush (not on Windows as far as I know). I'm happy with solitaire, minesweeper or any of the web based games I might want to play. I enjoy the tablet experience... again, for what I personally use it for which is mostly social media, web browsing and reading the Wall Street Journal.

    It was really the power to weight ratio factor that I am thrilled with... could just never really do any "work" on my iPad. I need full Office.

    My company doesn't support either (they're waiting for Windows 9 next year), but I do have web access and have been able to link my work mail to both the mail app as well as Outlook if I need the full Outlook experience. We also utilize OneDrive for business, so I have access to all of my files and I simply utilized my Office365 account to get that on the Surface.

    Basically, it can completely replace my work computer and I couldn't be happier.
  17. spinedoc77 macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2009
    A kickstand is such a DUH feature, I can't fathom why other tablet makers would not automatically use something like this. I'd even be happy for one of those small kickstands that Sony uses in some of its tablets.
  18. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    I think even Apple realized the need for some way to prop up a tablet, but Jobs couldn't stand breaking up the solid surface of the tablet with a kickstand. Hence Apple's "official" iPad cases have always had a stand functionality built in. I can imagine that Jony Ive went through dozens of kickstand prototypes without being able to come up with one that satisfied Jobs.
  19. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    You can't? Maybe because:

    - a kickstand reduces the amount of internal space available for components. The kickstand must be flush with the shell of the tablet when closed and must have another layer to cover the components when the kickstand is opened.

    - a kickstand favors only one orientation making it useful for only landscape or portrait.

    - a kickstand prevents using protective cases.

    - a kickstand is a physical/moving component that is subject to mechanical wear far quicker than any electronic wear of the internal components.

    If you spend a few moments I'm confident that you can double this list.
  20. sguyx, Jul 13, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014

    sguyx macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2013
    Because SP3 is quite differend than Macbook Air or Pro, im comparing it with the iPad Air. I cannot take notes or sketching with my MacBookPro Retina, but I can do that by my iPad Air (or Galaxy Note 10.1./NotePro 12.2).

    iPad Air: I have tried differend kind of pens, one for drawing one for writing... And I must say, they all are terrible. Some are better than the others of course, but they all are more like budget price devices and one works fine for writing while drawing sucks and vice versa. You need to own at least two pens. But again, better than a finger though.

    Problems that I have faced irl with iPad Air and pencils:
    - lag
    -- handwriting can be painfully slow or you need to write slow to get the sensitivity of writing something (depends on alot of apps)
    - drawing (absolutely terrible and I mean terrible)
    -- palm problem
    -- sensitivity
    -- bt connection lost
    -- a line should be straight but sometimes it is more like a drunk has drawn it
    -- slow, if you draw fast it feels like "come on, do something!"
    - size
    -- making notes, sketches and drawings, I feel the screen size is too small.
    - no multiwindow option

    Those are some reasons why Im considering to get SP3 if they have fixed the problems well. (REead Penny Arcades Gabe both reviews testing and opinions.)

    I like the SPen in Galaxy Note (10.1/NotePro 12.2) and I feel quite disappointed by the way Apple thinks that tablets should be use. They dont love artists, you know what I mean... And without a multiwindow it's hard to do any serious work with iPad Air, but again..The screen size is only 9,7", but I would definitely like to have two windows side by side sometimes. Especially if im taking notes from some article. It's frustrating to jump between windows. (imho again.)

    SP3 (i7/8gb/256gb - dont need to pay for 512gb because you can add 128gb scard) may replace my laptop use alot. Maybe all. Im using both win 8.1 and Mavericks. So win 8.1 is not a problem for me (if there is any anyway). Im wondering, does the stand loose it's thigtness in use?

    I havent made a preorder, Im still waiting to see i7 irl and what comes with iPad Air2 (larger and better pencil sensitivity, multiwindow?). But if iPad Air2 is about the same as this one, im not interested. I already feel that iPad Air is a overpriced device and with the same amount of money, I get better options, but this is my personal feelings based on devices I have used.

    The price tag for i7/8/256 is way too high: 1589 euros (2160 us dollars) in Microsoft store and without a keyboard (another 134,99 euros -> 183 us dollars). But again, a touch screen, a tablet which is a real laptop too. Still, it should be 300 euros less and with a keyboard without extra money. (Comparing; Macbook Pro 13.3 Retina 8gb/256gb cost about the same, iPad Air 128gt is 880 euros -> 1200 us dollars.)
  21. azure247 macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2008
    I returned my SP3 for cons that you purposefully left out because it is obviously affecting everyone and Microsft is still working on a fix (Jul 8 patch still have wifi issues).

    While the form factor is great, microsoft tried hard to conserve battery power and they failed. When you use it like a tablet, meaning you put it to sleep and turn it back on hours later, the wifi goes out and forces you to restart the sp3 to regain wifi function. Also, u cannot play music on spotify with the screen turned off, if u turn off the screen, the sound goes off with it and so that means if u use it to play music while ur on the exercise bike, the battery will drain fast because the screen is wasting battery life.

    And it runs hot at random times when u least expect it to.
  22. diamond.g macrumors 603


    Mar 20, 2007
    You don't have to reboot to get WiFi back. Or at least I have yet to be in a situation where I had to reboot to get wireless working again.

    I am not sure about playing audio while screen is off. Connected standby makes things more convoluted.
  23. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    The WiFi issue doesn't have a single solution. Some find that they can simply turn off wifi and turn it back on again to get it to work. Others have to reboot.

    It is problems like these that have plagued the Surface line (both Pro and non-Pro) from day-1 of generation 1. Microsoft has once-a-month updates and if a problem you are experiencing isn't fixed with that update, you'll need to wait another month for another opportunity to see if it is fixed. Some things still aren't fixed.

    In the 10 months of Surface ownership, I've not had a period of more than 2 weeks without experiencing an issue that required a workaround or official fix. Just when I'd have something stable, the monthly update (which you can't opt out of btw) came around and either broke something else, or undid what I had done.

    I loved the hardware, but the stability of the OS/drivers doesn't do it justice.
  24. akuma13 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2006
    The wifi issue just started effecting me. I still think the pros out way the cons.
  25. soulreaver99 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Aug 15, 2010
    Southern California
    I still have not run into the WiFi issues (knock on wood). Maybe it's because I didn't update the network drivers that were in the Optional part of the updates. Not sure, so far so good though.

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