By Andy Vandervell
Reviewed: 24 May 2013
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (i5, 256 GB, 8GB, Windows 8.1 Pro) Bundle w/ warranty
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Intel Core i5 256GB 12" Touchscreen W8
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 i5, 128GB, Wi-Fi, 10.6in - Dark Titanium (Latest Model)
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 64GB, Wi-Fi, 12in - Silver With Windows 10
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 256GB, Wi-Fi, 10.6in - Dark Titanium (Latest Model)
- Surface Pro 3 - 12" - 128GB - Silver
12.3" Surface Pro 4 128GB Multi-Touch Tablet (Silver)
12" 256GB Surface Pro 3 Multi-Touch Tablet (Silver)
12.3" Surface Pro 4 256GB Multi-Touch Tablet (Silver)
Nice review, and good to hear some positive feedback about Windows 8 for a change!
Just a couple of thoughts I had:
I don't particularly like the mail app. In fact I think it's pretty shoddy, however the feature of having to swipe up from the bottom (or swipe from the top) is the same feature in any app, wherever you are. That's how Windows 8 works, and as far as I can recall is explained when you first switch the unit on. It's quite straight forward and makes all apps a lot more intuitive to use as they all have the same menu systems. Swipe from the right for charms (app options and search) or from the bottom for actions or app controls. Seems a bit odd that you'd complain about that in the mail app in particular.
Also, the comparisons of other machines seem totally irrelevant and as thought you chose them for that reason. Compare poor battery life against more efficient chipsets, and compare good performance against much lower spec chipsets? Why not compare it to a couple 1.7GHz i5 laptops?
I think it's a magnificent step in the right direction, but I agree Haswell, and other future chipsets will make this more of a reality for most, as some limitations are too big a step. It'll suit a lot of people no doubt, and really, when you consider everything it does (mostly quite well), it is a very impressive machine.
I wish the app store were better. I use a Surface RT, and am constantly disappointed by the store. I know, I know, it'll get better with time, but my god it feels like a long wait!
Thanks for the kind words.
You're totally right about the Mail app - it's the most disappointing native app on Windows 8. I take your point about the swiping from the bottom, too. The problem I had with the Mail app is it keeps some functions on the main interface, and then others aren't. As I say in the review, though, it's part of the learning curve. I think Microsoft would just do well to keep reminding people - i.e. each time you open a new app for the first time - rather than a one-stop demo when you first start it up.
On the comparisons, I think they're totally valid. The Samsung laptop I mentioned is a Core i3 which, though slower, has the same basic power properties as the Core i5 in the Surface Pro and lasted an hour longer in the same tests. The Atom processor-based tablets are a useful measure because (if you're looking for a Win 8 tablet) you basically have to decide between performance and acceptable battery life. As a more general point, I don't think you can review any tablet without considering the alternatives, and for most people those will include iPads and the like. If Haswell delivers anything close to Intel is claiming, however, then things will get really interesting.
I am actually on the fence on buying a Surface Pro and have been looking at alternatives and although this review hits some points, it misses others.
I believe - and if you look at specialist tablet sites - that the market for Windows touchscreen tablets/hybrids is a "business" rather than "leisure" market (that one belongs to Apple and Androids tablets). So, to compare the Surface (or any other non-RT tablets) with the iPad is missing the point (when you manage to run Office or Photoshop on the iPad or Android, let me know).
On the business side, the main (only?) selling point of a tablet/hybrid compared to a laptop is the ability to use it, well, on a "tablet" (sheet of paper) format and for that a proper pen is essential. MSFT completely missed the point on the Surface RT by NOT including a digitizer. Why is a pen importat? If you draw, it's self-explanatory but even if you don't (and I don't) the ability to take notes (OneNote) or on-the-fly annotation (PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, etc) is a killer feature.
The hundreds and thousands of people using iPad's in businesses would suggest what you say is only partially true. Microsoft would like them to switch to W8 and RT tablets, but it's not a formality.
In fact, I'm of the opinion that Microsoft's tablet strategy is far too reliant on the pull of Office. Yes, it's widely used in business, but until recently I worked at a company that was switching everything to Google Apps. For them, Office 365 has no value whatsoever.
If I were Microsoft, I'd be doing deals left and right centre to get people to support the Windows ecosystem with more business focused tablet apps. I'd start with Evernote. It's awesome, but at present there's no way to use it with a pen on a Windows tablet. OneNote is great and all, but it can't compete with Evernote's breadth and depth of platform support, and I don't think Microsoft has the stomach to get into bed properly with iOS and Android.
Thanks for the nice review. I think you missed some of the more obvious competitors to the Surface Pro when considering alternatives. Both the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and the Toshiba U925 sport Intel Core processors and are closer in size to the Surface Pro than say the Lenovo Yoga 13. (The Duo 11 in particular which has the same screen resolution and is only slightly larger than the Surface Pro)
I agree that the iPad has enjoyed a decent business penetration, but I have some doubts on its actual benefit. The cases I know (and I freely admit the, they are few) the iPad gets more usage as a company-paid toy than an actual work device.I have to disagree with you on MSFT tablet strategy being too reliant on Office. I think it's main problema was actually trying to move away for the x86 (and Office) platform. The half-baked Office for RT is one exemple and the lack of a Metro Office 2013 is just absurd! I don't have the numbers, but I doubt Google apps has any kind of proper, real world penetration as office tools (not on mail or calendaring or document syncing, mind you), apart from some locked-down rotating-user environments.I absolutely agree with you on the lack of tablet-specific apps and MSFT hasn't been playing that front properly. As I wrote above, the simple fact that MSFT itself didn't invest in proper apps (the ones that come with Windows 8 are atrocious) is a telling sign.
Yup. Lack of Metro Office is a massive fail. Going to the desktop mode on an RT is a kick in the teeth. I retain some hope someone at MS will see sense eventually. A Metro Office that retains even 20/30% of full Office functionality would still kick everything else into the curb.
On iPad use in business, I'm certain there's an element of truth in what you say. A decent keyboard case and Evernote, however, makes one totally worth it, and the Google Drive app has just enough functionality for me to make it productive. Will be interesting to see what Apple does in this area with iOS 7 - I don't think it can afford to ignore it.
Good review. Andy you should do more video reviews you were great at those back in the day. But Christ, cut the background music! Anyway- I bought the vaio duo 11 and have been overall delighted with it, but I had a very long look at the surface pro. The pen works a lot better which is a massive plus, but I found the screen just a bit too small for using desktop apps like cad software etc, whereas the 11.6 vaio seems ok and not so claustrophobic. My ideal would be a slightly higher res (2650x1440) lightweight slider design with a 14" screen. Hopefully the next generation of pen input will be more accurate.Battery wise the vaio seems to last over 5 hours generally which I find to be fine, but then I don't spend my life on transatlantic flights and don't find having to plug it in occasionally that traumatic.
ps. the pen on the surface pro magnets on to the power thing. When I looked at it this seemed a great solution, and assuming you keep the whole lot in a little bag or case this approach surely makes a lot of sense.
Fantastic Device. Glad I decided to overlook the negatives posted about this device. If you want an all in one machine, then this is it. Nothing to complain about really excepting the touch pad- will take some getting used to.fantastic screen, fluid operation, love win 8, very portable.
I have been deciding between the iPad or windows 8 surface pro. And I have not been able to decide which tablet is better. I will be using it for traveling so I'm going to need it for pictures videos, editing, PlayingGames,watchingmovies, and also using it for School. 'already have a computer that has microsoft office. Which tablet is the most Recommended?
a overheating overpriced piece of.....well enough said.
I have recently purchased one of the 128GB Surface Pro models and can honestly say that I am very pleased with it. I have an iPad, my wife has an iPad Mini and my work computer is a Mac Book pro 15" so I'm no stranger to technology.
I can say that the surface Pro is everything i expected it to be - Its a tiny little computer in the form of a tablet - the games and apps on the iPad are far better (for recreational use) but if your after something that you can use as a real computer and be fully portable, then the surface pro is for you.
I use mine every day and would recommend one to anyone if your after a computer as well as a tablet. If you can do without PC type features then get an iPad, but if your after a proper computer then get the Surface Pro. I use mine to record Music on using Traktor Pro software and this is the main reason I purchased it.
Battery life is not a problem, I can use it on and off all day without charge, but I generally get about 5 hours out of it doing everyday tasks. It runs iTunes and I can have my photo stream on there. My Ical from my Mac and iPhone all sync with Outlook 2013. I can play PC games such as Dirt 3 (Steam runs fine) and its decent quality. Photoshop and Illustrator all run well (its no Mac Pro with an i7 and 16 GB Ram but still quite good enough).
If you want to use a bigger screen, just plug it into a monitor and us a cheap keyboard and mouse and you also have a fairly decent desktop replacement.All in all it don't really see that its any kind of compromise, its an 10 inch PC so you cant expect the performance of a larger laptop or games PC.
Best of all I got mine for £625 band new - off ebay and it has warranty until October 2014 with Microsoft.
Go on, treat yourself, Windows 8 all makes sense on the Surface Pro.
Microsoft Just Doesn’t Get It!
Itis a mistake to by Microsoft Product these days. Let me share my story.
RecentlyI made the decision to update my technology, and after lots of research came tothe conclusion that the best thing for my needs was to buy a Surface Pro2. The thought was I could buy a systemthat would act like a tablet (a large and heavy one, but still a tablet),laptop, and desktop computer depending on my varied needs. I thought I could use the docking station(with my wireless keyboard and large monitor) when at home to use full applications(like Office, Adobe ect.), attach type cover 2 when I needed laptop functions,and use the tablet to surf on the couch or read articles leisurely on theweb. I could even use the tablet towatch movies on a plane or when working out. Sounded like a real good solution to me. Frankly I didn’t mind the fact it cost significantly more than otherproducts as long as it could take care of all of my needs.
Asan aside, I have a long history of using Microsoft products all the way back toDOS. I have invested many hours becomingan expert at PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and have lived through the manyiterations of Windows. In fact I havebeen a long term shareholder of Microsoft and thought they may have found theirway back. The Surface Pro 2 would helpthem use the legacy advantages they have established over a long period oftime. In short I was rooting for Microsoft.
Nowto my experience. I ordered a SurfacePro 2, Type Cover 2, Office 365, Docking Station, and VGA Adopter (for use whengiving presentations on the road). Spenta good deal of time researching just what I needed. 8 gigs of Ram, 256 gigs on the hard drive,and a bonus of 200 gigs of storage on Microsoft’s cloud. Hell, if I got a Windows phone everythingwould sync without me having to do much of anything. I could access all my files wherever I was andon whatever device I was using. Finallysomeone gets it! It cost me almost $2000for this outfit, but it would be worth it if it worked as advertised. I would be able to use my legacy knowledge,all my files, and it would tie me in to Microsoft for a long time to come.
Boywas I wrong! When everything wasdelivered I was excited about spending the time to get everything set up justright. I started moving my files to “SkyDrive”,started to configure Windows 8.1 just like I wanted and it seemed like Ifinally found what I was looking for. Iwas ok with the fact that the Windows App store was a little light on usableapplications and was sure they would catch up with Apple, Google, and Amazon inthe near future. First issue was that mySurface would not fit flush in to the Docking Station. The Video prong on the right side of theDocking Station would not fit into the Surface Pro 2. Thus the 5 power tines just above it wouldnot line up and it would not be able charge. I immediately called Microsoftsupport and explained the issue to the technician (Kaleb with a “K”). After I spent all kinds of time defending thefact I was not an idiot and was fully capable of placing the Surface correctlyin to the Docking Station, he said he wasn’t sure if it was a defectiveSurface, or a defective Docking Station. He told me he would set up an appointment at the closest Microsoft storeand assured me he would get me up and running ASAP. He kept me on the telephone while he made anappointment for me the next day at the store at 11 am. I did tell him I had been to the storepreviously when researching and had not found them particularly helpful. The store was Washington Square Mall in BeavertonOregon, right in the backyard of Microsoft. In my previous visit they told me all their products were “sold out” andthat in fact the Docking Station was not even released yet. Funny thing was that when I researched theDocking Stations, they were all over the internet and I ended up purchasing oneat “Best Buy” online.
Kalebassured me I would be taken care of and not to worry because he had spoken tothem on the phone and had everything set up. Gave me the case number to reference ( the whole nine yards). I showed up at the store 10 minutes early andsaw the 4 reps working there standing around with only one customer there. Istood there for a few minutes before one of them finally came over to me andasked me if I needed help. I explainedwhy I was here and told him I had an appointment at 11 as referenced by Kaleb’scall to them. The rep immediately toldme there were no technicians there and I should come back at another time. I told him I had an appointment andreferenced Kaleb’s call and case number. He told me I must be mistaken and that he (Kaleb) probably made theappointment at the Pioneer Square store in downtown Portland. I responded thatI was sure he made it at the Washington Square store. I told him that my Surface Pro 2 did not fitin to the Docking Station. He told me thatthe Docking Station was not released yet and he could not help me. Funny thing is that I had the Docking Stationwith me. In addition the VGA Adopteronly works with the Surface RT and does not work with the Surface Pro 2. He told me there was nothing he could do tohelp me.
Walkingback through the mall I passed by the Apple Store and saw it filled withengaged customers and service reps. Theyall seem to be pretty happy.
Ihave sent my Surface Pro 2, Docking Station, Type 2 cover, Office 365 , and theVGA Adopter all back. I can’t invest anymore time in a platform and company that doesn’t care about its customers. Great companies start with their “customers”and work backwards. It doesn’t matterwhat your strategy is, if you don’t take care of and listen to your customers,you are bound to fail. I am sure myexperience is not unique.
Iwill be selling my shares and am sure Microsoft is going to become irrelevantin the future!
We all have different needs, I was looking for a handy sketch pad in tablet form. In my view a review can't beat a 'hands-on' showroom demonstration. It's quite a lot of dosh to part with. When I sketch, my shading strokes are so fast my hand is a blur! fast strokes assure even shading. The 5i processor should keep up, but I have tested plenty that don't in the past. Microsoft's Artificial Intelligence projects may open up some very exciting prospects? I have noticed that 'Google Translate' is often excellent. I am sure AI played a part.
Just looking at buying one (8.1 tablet) It support guy having to support users supplying themselves 8.1 (I run 7 on laptop). Best Buy has the 128GB unit for $499. Is this a slam dunk at that price?
Who in there right mind is going to read that whiny rant. Do something better with your life.
R u serious !!!! All this story to say the docking station is not fitting ur Pro ??? Wasting our time
You wrote an entire story and ended it abruptly. The comment you made about the apple store had nothing to do with anything. It would be like you saying you walked by the Victoria Secret store and saw it filled with engaged customers and floor reps. They all seem to be pretty happy. Zero to do with the surface. For someone who has had high hopes for microsoft.... enough to buy shares of the company.... gave up really easily. Especially over workers that obviously just didnt care about their jobs. Oh anf Microsoft becoming irrelevant in the future. What does that even mean? That they will fade away? Mmm not unless these little products and software by the name of oh i dont know xbox or office amongts others decide to fall off or disappear. Oh an by the way i'm not even a huge microsoft fan. Quite frankly im an Apple Fanboy. Just saying.
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