Surface Pro 3
Over the past few years, Microsoft has been striving to create a tablet that can permanently replace your laptop. They made some great strides with the Surface Pro 2, but even then there were major shortcomings that prevented it from being the end-all-be-all tablet. Now, though, with the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has developed something that may very well replace laptops, at least for casual users.
The Surface Pro 3 is by far one of the largest tablets around. Sporting an absolutely massive 12 inch display, the Pro 3 looks and feels big in your hands. But with it’s light weight and thin design, it still feels natural and comfortable in your hands, at least for a little while (more on that later). Microsoft has specifically gone out to beat Apple’s iPad Air as well as the Macbook Air with this tablet, and they very well may have. While the iPad Air is still lighter and marginally thinner, the Surface Pro 3 has a significantly better display. Microsoft also takes a hint from Apple and has placed the Windows icon on the bottom/side of the tablet, much like iPad’s home button.
Given the Pro 3’s new and improved display, it feels more natural and comfortable, feeling more like a notepad than a tablet. That comes in handy, especially with the thoughtfully designed N-Trig pen that comes with the tablet. The pen has been specially designed to feel more like the actual writing instrument, and it feels natural in your hand. Unless you are an artist, it’s hard to say whether the pen is actually useful or not. But, based on your needs, anyone could probably find some use for it. The clicker on the top also automatically opens OneNote on the tablet, which is just nifty. The kickstand is also full friction and has a wide range of positions. This makes it useful for nearly anyone, regardless of size or need. All-in-all, the actual design of the tablet is amazing, and it feels as premium as it looks.
The huge drawback of the Pro 3, though, is the fact that the Type Cover is sold separately (and sold at a pretty steep $130 at that). For a tablet designed to replace your laptop, it seems like a huge misstep to separately sell the one component that makes it like a laptop.
I don’t want to get too technical in regards to the specifications, so this section will just be a brief overview and insight into the hardware. If you want a full spec list, go here. There are several models of the Surface Pro 3, with the lower end models containing less memory and lower end processors, and the premium models having as much as 512 GB of memory and a high-end processor (all for the hefty price of $1949). The big price tag of pro 3 would prove worth it, though, since the Pro 3 is the closest thing to replacing the laptop that has ever been built. You can see all the available options for Surface Pro 3 here.
The tablet also sports two 5 MP cameras on the front and back of the device. That will give you a so-so resolution, enough for acceptable pictures and tolerable Skype calls. The device’s fan is also fairly loud, though not enough to draw too much attention. Pro 3’s biggest draw back is its battery. Microsoft claims that the device can last for nine hours of regular web browsing, though some reviews have reported significantly lower lifespans. For casual users this is probably no big deal. But for professionals who are hoping to use it as a work station, it could prove problematic. The Pro 3 also gets extremely hot with heavy use, with reports of it ranging from warm to the touch to scorching.
Regardless of its sleek design and solid specs, what matters is whether or not it works. The good news is that the Surface Pro 3 does work, and it works rather well. Games run smoothly, with only the mildest of sluggishness on more demanding games. The N-Trig pen is surprisingly seamless and flows well when taking notes. In fact, the tablet will probably work best for students, as it is pretty much designed around note taking and typing. The type cover has also been significantly improved upon from the Pro 2’s.
When all is said and done, the Surface Pro 3 is a great tablet. It may not be the end of laptops, but it is definitely a step in that direction. The Pro 4’s inevitable release may very well be the final bell toll for the laptop, but for right now the Pro 3 works best for casual users and students. Anyone who would depend on it heavily for work related tasks may still be better off with their bulkier laptops. Professionals may find some use of it though as a grab and go device for quick, non-intensive work. However, for those of us just looking to step away from laptops and replace them with tablets, that time is now. If you can afford the price tag, the Pro 3 may be the tablet/PC you have been waiting for.