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Customer Review

75 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good improvement over its predecessor. Amazing computer., June 23, 2014
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This review is from: Microsoft Surface Pro 3 8GB/256GB - PS2-00001 (Personal Computers)
Pros-

1. Big beautiful and responsive display.
2. Very fast and fluid.
3. Very thin and light design.
4. Much improved keyboard.
5. Kickstand is better than ever.

Cons-

1. Only a single USB port.
2. Can get pretty hot with intense use.
3. Price.
4. The app store is still very limited.
5. Battery life is still not optimal for tablet use.

Last year I purchased the Surface Pro 2 as soon as it came out and I was a big fan of it. I put up with some of the limitations it came with because I liked the portability and flexibility that it provided. I am happy to say that the Surface Pro 3 has improved on a lot of those limitations. It is an overall better experience. In this review I intend to give you an idea of what it feels to use the Surface Pro 3 and at the same time compare it with the Surface Pro 2 in case you are deciding to purchase that one.

Pros-

1. As soon as you take a look at the new Surface Pro 3 the first thing you will notice is how much bigger it is in comparison to the Surface Pro 2. The display in the Surface Pro 3 has been increased to 12 inches and it makes a big difference in the user experience. Running the laptop in desktop mode is much more enjoyable now. The new 3:2 aspect ratio is much better optimized to use with the desktop applications for Windows. It makes for a more polished experience and comfortable experience. The Surface Pro 3 screen is also very responsive just like the Surface Pro 2 was. The resolution in the display was increased a little bit but I can't really notice much of a difference. Both of the displays have very nice color accuracy and look gorgeous. The only flaw I see in the display is that now all of the videos in Netflix, YouTube and media players have black bars on the top and bottom just like you see in modern TVs. The Surface Pro 2 did not have those borders. It is a real shame that the Surface Pro 3 is not taking advantage of the increased size of the display when it comes to videos. This appears to be because of the 3:2 ratio i mentioned before.

2. The experience on the Surface Pro 3 is very fast and fluid. It is much faster than any android tablet on the market or the Ipad for that matter. It is not a fair comparison though because the processor in the Surface Pro 3 is simply much faster than the one in the Ipad. The model I am using has a i5 processor that has been running wonderfully. Everything that I throw at it loads up in an instant. I have not experienced a single stutter in the last couple of weeks. I always have several applications running in the background such as Spotify and Utorrent. I also have a really bad habit of having 10-12 tabs opened in Google Chrome at all times. Not a problem with the Surface Pro 3. Honestly, it is not a problem for the Surface Pro 2 either. The boot times are pretty awesome too. You know how it takes your old computer a couple of minutes to boot up and have everything ready to use? If you buy a Surface Pro 3 your computer takes only about 15 seconds to have everything up and running and ready to use. The only thing I have not tested in this laptop has been gaming. I am fairly certain it can probably handle light games but will probably have a harder time handling heavy duty games since it doesn't have a dedicated graphic card. Maybe the i7 model can but I can't really say.

3. Another hardware improvement in the Surface Pro 3 over the Surface Pro 2 has been weight reduction and a much thinner design. The Surface Pro 2 looks like a fat brick compared to the new Surface Pro 3. The overall weight reduction is not dramatic but noticeable, especially when you are using it as a tablet. The Surface Pro 3 feels less dense than the previous model. It is still not as comfortable to use as an Ipad when you have it in tablet mode but it has definitely being improved. Browsing the web and reading the news in tablet mode is better than on the smaller Ipad. I had a hard time going back to my old Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 when I stopped using the Pro 3. It just feels small in comparison. If you were turned off by the aesthetic of the Surface Pro 2 then you will probably appreciate the improvements that the Surface Pro 3 brings to the table.

4. One of the weakest points that the Surface Pro 2 had last year was the keyboard. The Type Cover 2 from last year provided a nice typing experience but the trackpad was a complete disaster. It was very small and uncomfortable to use. There was no way around it. This year however the trackpad has received a big upgrade. The trackpad is much bigger and the left and right buttons are much more tactile. Every time I had to do a right click on the Surface Pro 2 I wanted to throw the laptop out the balcony. It was that bad. The Pro 3 doesn't have that problem. Besides the extra size in the display this has been the biggest and most satisfying improvement that the Surface Pro 3 brings. The keyboard also has a magnet that connects itself to the laptop that raises the keys. It is a nice addition that makes the typing experience more comfortable.

5. The kickstand in the Surface Pro 3 provides a lot of flexibility over previous versions. This is how it should have been from the beginning. I can use the computer as a laptop just about anywhere now. It definitely provides more comfort when you are trying to use on your lap or while sitting on the bed. The improvement in the kickstand has made me use the computer more as a laptop than a tablet.

Cons-

1. One of the limitations that the Surface Pro 3 has is the lack of USB ports. I think it is ironic that Microsoft keeps advertising that the Surface Pro 3 as the tablet that can replace your laptop. Apparently they missed the memo that just about every laptop has at least two USB ports. This computer only has one. Sometimes I like to use a wireless mouse that comes with a USB receiver, that takes away the possibility of plugging in a USB flash drive or anything else. Microsoft opted to add a Mini DisplayPort that almost nobody is going to use as opposed to a second USB drive. This was one of my criticisms of the Surface Pro 2 and Microsoft still has not fixed it. It is really baffling.

2. The Surface Pro 3 is a pretty powerful computer that can handle some serious workload. Unfortunately one of the downsides is that it can get pretty hot with intensive use. This is not a problem when you are using it as a laptop with the kickstand because the heat is not placed in your lap but it can be irritating when being used as a tablet. The hot spot is located in the top right corner of the laptop when used in landscape mode. It becomes more manageable when used in portrait mode. You learn to adjust after a while.

3. The Surface Pro 3 is a very fast, very nice and very expensive laptop. The entry level price of the laptop starts at $799 dollars and that is without the keyboard included. The keyboard is going to cost you an extra $130 dollars. If you are a student don't forget there is a 10% discount on both the keyboard and the computer if you buy it directly from Windows. I am not sure if other retailers like Best Buy are offering a price match on that promotion. All of the accessories that Microsoft sells for the Surface Pro 3 are just as expensive. One word of CAUTION with the $799 model. It only comes with 64 GB of storage out of which only about half of is usable. But not only that, the updates that Microsoft releases monthly take a lot of storage over the life of the tablet. I made the mistake of purchasing the 64 GB model with the Pro 2 and it ended up being a mistake. After 6 months I only had about 11 GB left. The laptop comes with a MicroSD card slow where you can store movies and pictures but the Microsoft Updates have to be stored on the hard drive, there is no way around it. The $999 model comes with double the storage and a better processor. It is a better value for your money.

4. Another year has passed and Microsoft still has not managed to improve the App Store. It is still lacking. It is very inferior to the Google Play Store and the IOS App Store. The advantage the Surface Pro 3 has is you can install any Windows legacy program that you want. That includes the full Microsoft Office suite. The lack of quality apps on the Microsoft Store is going to be a turn off for those of you that plan to use this computer more as a tablet than a laptop.

5. The battery life in the Surface Pro 3 has been improved marginally over the Surface Pro 2. I would say it is about 15% better. I manage to get around 7 hours of use. That was while using it mostly for light things such as web browsing and listening to music. If you start streaming videos on Netflix and YouTube and crank up the brightness to 100% then it will last between 4-5 hours. That is average for modern ultrabook laptops but mediocre at best for tablets. I know the Ipad can easily handle 10 hours.

In conclusion, the Surface Pro 3 features several improvements over its predecessor the Surface Pro 2. It has a gorgeous 12 inch display. Very fast processor and a much improved overall design. The body of the laptop is much thinner and lighter. The kickstand extends itself farther than in the past allowing for a more comfortable experience while using in the lap. The trackpad in the keyboard is bigger and more accurate than in the Surface Pro 2. There are some negatives like the lack of apps in the app store and only one USB port is available in the computer. Do I recommend this computer? I sure do. It is an excellent piece of hardware that is sure to please you whether you are doing work or play.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 29, 2014 6:05:27 PM PDT
Jash says:
Very good review. The battery life has to do with the CPU and the "weight loss" but in the next few years, we will likely to see many laptops will last for 2 days. The app store's problem is not lacking apps, but its the authentication problem. Example, BBC. You see many BBC apps but they are not official but all have the same logo. I just can't trust them. There are most junks. Personally I don't need many apps.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2014 7:12:58 PM PDT
DP21 says:
The reason i like using the apps is because is because i like using apps side by side. That is one of the things i like best about Windows 8.1 and the Surface. Samsung tablets offer the side by side multitasking but it is not as smooth and flexible as in the Surface.

The desktop programs are not good for this purpose. I agree with you that a lot of the apps on the windows store look shady. A lot of them have low ratings. Overall, the store is closer to the Amazon Store than the Android Play Store. The major apps are there but there is not a great selection.

Posted on Jul 7, 2014 8:04:07 PM PDT
JasonGW says:
I'm consistently getting 10+ hours of battery life with normal usage. What are you expecting and/or doing? But as a 1+ year user of the Surface Pro line (and now Pro 3, I have some issues with your claims:

1. Most tablets don't have a full USB port *at all*. That Surface Pro's have even one is a win. Moreover, it's easy to expand to 4 or more with a cheap USB hub. In addition, with the prevalence of wireless devices these days, it's easy to work around. I agree that I'd like to see, perhaps, two USB ports, but it's hardly a "con".

2. I edit 1080p video on mine and it never gets hot. What are you doing?

3. I'd agree the 64GB is pointless. That said, the 256GB model with 8GB RAM is really the sweet spot.

4. It is absolutely untrue that the app store hasn't improved. A year ago there were less than half as many apps as there are today. We're now approaching 200,000 apps. Not too bad for a year and change on the market.

5. I'm getting around 10 hours of battery life using the default settings. Obviously, that can shrink depending on the workload, but that's true of all devices.

Beyond that, good review :).

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2014 8:26:36 PM PDT
DP21 says:
First of all i would like to thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my review. You mentioned that most tablets do not have a USB port at all but the problem is that i look at this more as a laptop than a tablet. The fact of the matter is that Microsoft is targeting the laptop market. They advertise the productivity of the tablet/laptop. $1000 is a laptop price range not a tablet. One USB is not enough but whatever that is just my opinion.

Like i mentioned on the review i use a few normal desktop apps and not a whole lot of gaming or video editing or anything like that. The computer does get hot on the right corner.

As far as 10 hours of battery life are you measuring that with constant usage? Is that your screen on time? I usually have the brightness between a quarter and half and i get 7 hours at the most. There is no way that the battery lasts you for that long while doing video editing while using it at normal brightness. I like to maximize battery life but anything below a quarter brightness during the day is not comfortable to use at all.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2014 8:51:29 PM PDT
JasonGW says:
I wouldn't say they're exclusively targeting the laptop market, they're targeting the intersection of tablet and laptop, which gives a bit of a pass on the USB port issue. I do agree that it'd be nice to have an additional port, and I think we'll see that happen with a later revision (pro 4 would be a good place). But I also think that the single USB port is a nod to our increasingly wireless world. There is SO much you can do wirelessly these days that you used to need a USB port for, from storage to printers, scanners, keyboards and mice. For me, at least, everything but my single USB drive is wireless. Bluetooth mouse, obviously keyboard has its own connector, wireless storage (I sync my content to OneDrive and to a local wireless storage server), wireless monitors (Miracast is the bomb :).

I am curious what you're using that it gets hot. Also, though, I can't imagine that the right corner's temperature would make any real difference, given that it isn't a spot you'd be touching :).

My 10 hours consists of consistent usage over a typically 12-14 hour day. I bring it to school, take notes in OneNote, do a little email and browse the web, email, etc. I'll also read PDF's and mark them up, write in Final Draft, etc. Obviously you'd never get 10 hours doing, for example, editing full HD video, but those are activities I do in a lab or at home with a power outlet :).
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