Can Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 actually replace your laptop & tablet? That’s a big question and one that Microsoft has been trying to answer (with a yes) since October of 2012 when the first Surface tablet was released. Since that first Surface there have been two major updates, the Surface Pro 2 and now the Surface Pro 3.
The Surface Pro 3 brings a surprisingly lightweight and thin design, especially considering the power inside.
There is another line of Surface tablets, as well which do not have the “Pro” tag attached. These run a “tablet only” version of Windows and these are not the ones I am writing about here.
So lets get on with it. Can the Surface Pro 3 actually replace your tablet & laptop, and is Microsoft on to something here?
The Surface Pro 3 has a bigger screen than its predecessors (12”), is more powerful and comes with better accessories. All in all, there are five models, ranging in storage (64 GB to 512 GB), power (Intel i3, i5 and i7 Processors) and price ($799 to $1,949).
If you really want to replace a laptop, you’re looking at any of the four best models (which start at $999). At these levels, the insides of the Surface Pro 3 are essentially the same as what’s inside a MacBook Air.
For Windows users, the Surface Pro 3 holds a great advantage over other tablets. it will run 100 percent of your Windows programs. This is a big plus for the professional user.
The hinge on the Surface Pro 3 is a great leap forward for making these mobile devices “comfortable” regardless of where we choose to use them.
Surface’s New Hinge
The new hinge has what Microsoft is calling “infinite flexibility.” With it, you can turn the device upside down, you can stand it up and you can prop it just about any way you can think of. This really makes using the Surface very comfortable, on your lap, on a table or anywhere.
The new stylus brings OneNote alive in ways that even previous OneNote users were not expecting.
Surface’s New Pen
One of the exciting new features with the Surface Pro 3 is the “pen.” However it is far more than just a simple stylus. The pen has two buttons: an eraser and a selector. When you click the top of the pen, Microsoft OneNote immediately opens, even if the device is locked. The pen is particularly excellent and it transforms OneNote into something special. If you are already a OneNote user this will be a must have and if you have not tried out OneNote this will entice you to give it a try.
The Surface Pro Target User
I am asked this question many times. “I need a new tablet, what should I get”. This is really a loaded question because everyone uses these devices differently. I basically divide tablet users into two categories. The “consumer” and the “creator”. The consumer uses a tablet to take in content, such as reading email, online articles, social media and gaming. The creator is also creating documents such as word, excel and photo editing.
Students and professionals who want to have the best of both worlds (creator and consumer) should seriously consider the Surface Pro 3. However If you basically use a tablet as a consumer the Surface’s advantages are probably not worth the expense.
The i5 models ($999 for 128 GB or $1,299 for 256 GB) are good devices. The i7 models ($1,549 for 256 GB or $1,949 for 512 GB) bring more processing power and more hard drive space. I would stay away from the $799 model (an i3 with 128 GB of storage). The i5 models are available now, while the i3 and i7 models will start shipping on August 1.
When tablets were originally being designed before Apple’s iPad, something like the Surface tablets was what everyone was expecting. Finally Microsoft has committed to moving in the direction of truly creating a laptop/tablet hybrid. The problem here for Microsoft is that millions of users have been trained to only expect certain things from their tablets such as using them as consumer devices (only) and worse yet to only do one task at a time. And here is another area where the Surface shines. Unlike the iPad you can actually multitask easily and even display two applications side by side as you use them. The Surface does just about everything better then the iPad and especially Android tablets. However many people simply do not need the processing power of a Surface tablet.
So if you do have greater expectations for your “tablet” and want one device to act as both your tablet & laptop the Surface Pro 3 is a great option.