“Finally, A good enough tablet to replace the laptop”
Microsoft has been talking about their vision of the future- one in which tablets are powerful enough to replace laptops for day-to-day tasks. However, they haven’t managed to kit things out of the park with the Surface line. Have things changed for the better? It certainly looks that way with the Surface Pro 3.
With the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has managed to make a device which makes the company’s dream of a feasible laptop-tablet hybrid a reality. The 12-inch screen makes it comparable to many modern Ultrabooks, and the keyboard is larger, as well as more responsive, when compared with previous iterations (but not as good as an actual laptop). The body is made of a strong magnesium alloy and is quite easy to hold. It weighs around 1.76 pounds and 0.36 inches thick – which is remarkable when considering that it is basically a small Ultrabook and not an out-and-out tablet like the iPad. In fact, Microsoft claims that it is the thinnest machine ever to use a Core i7 processor.
The chassis has a USB 3.0 port, a MiniDisplay port, a headphone jack, volume buttons, a microSD slot, the power button and a proprietary charging port.
The Surface Pro 3 is priced between $799 and $1,949, depending on the specs. Considering that it’s more powerful than normal tablets, and the options available, the price can be justified. But, it is to be noted that the Type Cover keyboard has to be bought separately and costs $130, making it comparable to Ultrabooks like the XPS 12 and Yoga 2 Pro.
As expected, the Surface Pro runs on Windows 8.1, which makes it just as productive as an Ultrabook. The OS is excellent and stable in both tablet and laptop states, and the new update has made the Desktop mode more usable.
It would be unfair to compare the Surface Pro 3 to normal tablets – it’s just that powerful. I am using the mid-range device which has a 1.9GHz Core i5-4300U Haswell processor, 8GB RAM, a Samsung SSD and an integrated Intel HD 4400 GPU. It can do pretty much anything that anUltrabook can do, and hold its own in most benchmarking tests. Since it uses a full-fledged Windows 8.1 OS, the device supports true multitasking as well. Boot times are pretty quick too; it only takes 10 seconds to power up and load the lock screen.
While the metal surface stays cool during normal use, it can warm up quite a bit when playing games. In fact, playing graphically intense games could also cause the fan to whirr loudly and powerfully. But anyway, Ultrabooks aren’t made for such uses.
- Optional Type Cover keyboard and Stylus
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac
- USB 3.0
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 looks and feels like a premium device, and the display is no exception. The 12-inch IPS panel has a 2,160×1,440 resolution and is extremely sharp. Colors are bright and balanced and viewing angles are extremely good. However, overhead lights do create a bit of glare.
Interestingly, Microsoft has said that they want to the screen to feel like a legal pad and has opted for a 3:2 aspect ratio instead of the usual widescreen 16:9. This makes the Surface Pro generally easy to use since it’s easier to reach the tiles and icons. If you are using the stylus, the screen even provides just enough friction to make it feel like you are writing on paper.
Both the front and back cams are 5MP shooters who perform decently. This is a welcome change since most manufacturers choose to make the front-cam less powerful. Photo quality therefore, while not great, is at least consistent.
According to Microsoft, there’s a 15-20% improvement in battery life when compared to previous models. This translates to around 9 hours of casual use. In real-world tests, it managed to last slightly more than 7 hours, which is way better than the Pro 2, but still par for the course.
However, compared to other Ultrabooks, the Surface Pro 3 does charge much faster – 72% in 90 minutes – which is great when you don’t have much time to charge.
- Extremely light and thin
- Beautiful display
- Good overall performance
- Easy to use as a tablet
- Type Case has multiple angle options
- Battery life not great
- Keyboard costs extra and is flimsy
- Hard to use the kickstand on the lap
With every iteration of the Surface Pro range, Microsoft comes closer and closer to a true laptop replacement. Even though the Surface Pro 3 is an excellent device, it would have been much better if it had a sturdier and cheaper keyboard.