After my month-long wait, I got the email telling me my Surface Pro 3 would be ready to pick up on the release date of June 20th. Now that I’ve had it a few days, I can share my thoughts so far. I’m not going to go over technical aspects, which can be found by clicking on the name above.
Lighter & Thinner (Can Microsoft do that for me too?)
The most immediate thing I noticed was the weight. Or lack thereof. Since I went through a series of purchases and returns, going through the Surface 2 (S2) and the Surface Pro 2 (SP2), I knew the significant weight difference between those two products. The SP3 has a bigger screen than either of those and has the same computing power as the SP2, yet it weights a quarter pound less. It falls right between the S2 and SP2. A quarter pound doesn’t sound like much, but it is, especially in a tablet. The weight of the SP2 was a drawback for me, but this is not.
My friend, Stephanie, and I met for our weekly writing appointment yesterday, and she has the S2. In a side-by-side comparison, we could barely tell the weight difference between the two.
The thickness of the SP2 is also gone. The SP3 is only .01 inch thicker than the S2. That’s darn thin! Next to an S2, you can’t tell the difference in thickness.
The screen… wow. Stephanie and I looked at Word documents on each of our machines, and there are so many more lines visible on the SP3. It’s like the blinders came off. Viewing documents, pictures, anything is just nicer, and the increased resolution helps with that too. All this, and it still fits nicely into my oversized purse.
The Windows button was moved to the side of the screen, which caused me quite a few accidental bumps when using the SP3 in tablet form. I suspect it was moved there because of the new type pad’s ability to stick to the bottom edge. I don’t know where else I would put it, but I don’t like it where it is.
Don’t really kick it, though it’s supposed to be pretty durable. I’m not going to be testing that. The kickstand went from being a two-position stand on the previous model to being a multi-position one. I didn’t think this would matter that much, but I’ve found myself using the kickstand in many positions to adjust for comfort or glare. It is a bit stiff to move, which bodes well for longevity. Maybe it will loosen up by the time my arthritis sets in.
Just like the SP2, the SP3 comes with a stylus, but this stylus is special. It feels more like a pen and is pressure sensitive, so when you push harder, your lines are darker and/or thicker. It has three buttons (top, erase, and right-click). The top button works with Microsoft OneNote, so even if your tablet is asleep and locked, you can click the button, open up a Quick Note to write whatever is on your mind, and then click again to save. Perfect when a random story idea or new scene for your novel strikes.
Another great feature with the Surface Pro 3 Pen and SP3 screen is “palm block technology” that lets you rest your hand on the screen while using the pen. This gives you a much more natural use of the pen, so writing and drawing is easier.
I look forward to getting Adobe Photoshop, which now includes touch features and is supposed to work well with the SP3 and the pen.
And Then It Stumbles
While the SP3 is compatible with the previous Type Cover, the new Type Cover will protect the entire face of the larger screen. It is also designed to fold up onto the screen surface and put the keyboard at a more comfortable angle. This makes it more usable on the lap too. The touchpad is improved, with a larger and smoother surface. But the praise ends there.
A common complaint I’ve heard is folding the keyboard at an angle makes the icons at the bottom of the screen more difficult to touch. I haven’t had too much trouble with it and tend to use the pen. If my pen isn’t readily accessible, I just pull the keyboard flat. I don’t mind sacrificing a little inconvenience for screen space, so this is a minor thing.
With the larger Type Cover, I would have expected full size or near-to-it keys, but the keys are all the same as before. Maybe this is a bigger undertaking than I think, or maybe it’s just more cost-effective for Microsoft to use the same keys. It’s a small improvement that could have been made and may have solved my next issue.
Curses (said in my best Mojo Jojo)
The biggest problem is the touchpad is not centered on the Type Cover. When I type normally, I often find my left hand on the edge of the track pad, and the cursor will activate and send my typing off into strange places. It’s happened at least four times (about ten by the end) while typing this entry. Once, I managed to click something that took me to a completely different page, and I almost lost everything I did here. Thank goodness for automatic backup! I have a laptop with an off-center touchpad too, but it has a simple way to turn the touchpad off and on, so I have no problems. I suppose I could program a keyboard shortcut, but it’s well established I’m lazy. And this is a design flaw with which I shouldn’t have to deal.
Technically (and financially), the Type Cover is an accessory, so my complaints aren’t about the SP3 itself. But if this is “the tablet that can replace your laptop,” a keyboard is an essential piece of equipment, and that’s why I’m adding this.
I See You
The camera was improved from both the S2 and SP2. The S2 camera is better than the SP2, and the SP3’s camera front facing camera is even better than that. Both are 5 MP, which is sufficient for a tablet.
A new addition is the “privacy light,” which is a little LED that comes on any time one of the cameras is active. No more stealth pictures and videos! You’ll have to use your phone for that. The reason why I like the privacy light is I don’t feel the need to put a sticker over my camera out of paranoia. Please don’t tell me there is a way to work around it. Let me have some small peace.
Hot Or Not
There have been a few things I’ve done that caused a warm spot I could feel on the front and back of the tablet. It wasn’t uncomfortably hot. Considering there is no fan, and it has an i5 processor, that’s pretty good… better than my laptop, which has an i5 and a fan.
The Highs And Lows
- Size and weight makes it very handy and portable
- Screen is beautiful
- Power of a full computer
- Stylus perks
- Type cover keyboard is poorly designed
- Windows (Start) button placement
- Awkward for use on lap with the keyboard
- Billed as a laptop replacement, but the keyboard is an additional cost
I have a lot to learn yet. Now that I won’t have to return my machine again (let’s hope I didn’t jinx myself with that statement), I will have a better chance to learn how deeply my love for the SP3 will run. Despite having an equal number good and bad points for OCD’s sake, the good points are far more important. I am thrilled with this tablaptop.