Our friends from Microsoft sent over a shiny new Surface Pro 3 tablet a few months ago, and I took my sweet time reviewing it. That’s not to say that it didn’t instantly win me over – because it did! But then I was tricked into doubting myself because of some very well documented CPU throttling reports.
Wait a minute. Let me back up and start at the beginning.
Surface Pro 3 First Impressions
When I first unboxed Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 3 I knew something was very different. I’d been worrying about Microsoft’s desire to get into the hardware game, because surely competing with their own distribution chain wasn’t going to win them any fans. On the other hand, take a look at Apple’s success and you can see why Microsoft would want a piece of that action.
But I digress. When I got my hands on the Surface Pro 3 I couldn’t believe how light it was! Or how attractively designed it was. Or how amazingly cool that stand was on the back! Or how sweet that flat little keyboard felt! Or the screen… or the specs… it was love at first sight.
In fact, the first thing I thought after unboxing the Surface Pro was – this is a machine worth dumping Apple for.
Being a media guy, I’ve been using Macs primarily because of their proficiency with photo and video editing, but staring down at that Surface with its i7 processor and light weight I was just thinking, oh how sweet would it be if I could abandon the Mac platform for this baby?
When I ran across that whole CPU throttling issue it really cooled my jets, because performance simply isn’t something I can give up. I don’t have time to sit around waiting for things to process. And at that time I was about ready to do a review and announce that basically EVERYONE should get a Surface Pro 3! So I took a step back, and decided I was going to have to give it a little more thought.
Life with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Over the next many weeks, the Surface Pro 3 sat on my desk beside my MacBook Air and I slowly began to install apps, configure it and play with it. And every time I used my Mac, the little Surface sat there staring at me like a cute little puppy. It essentially demanded that I use it! So use it I did.
At first I would leave my Mac on the desk and carry the Surface with me to a lunch appointment. I figured that if it frustrated me I could live until I got back to the office. But when that didn’t happen I began bravely taking it home overnight to use. And then for entire weekends!
Meanwhile, the Surface constantly reminded me of its utility. I didn’t need to use a stupid trackpad, because its a touch screen! If I wanted to lay on the sofa and watch Netflix I just pull the keyboard off and use the Surface as a tablet! If I was watching TV and wanted to just surf the web at the same time I would leave the precious little Surface in my lap with that amazing stand in the lowest position so I could just flick the touchscreen while using the Pinterest app, or Google+, or while just perusing TheChive.com (Keep Calm!).
After a while, the little Surface single handedly began to make me feel something that no other Windows machine had – frustration with the Mac! I mean you can only live in denial for so long before you begin comparing all the versatility of the Surface 3 with ANY Mac. It’s lighter, thinner, better looking, touch screen, removable keyboard, specialized pen for drawing on the screen – and I mean it’s both a tablet and a laptop! It’s got a full Windows install, plus a dedicated tablet style application interface!
And yet I continue to use the Mac. Why? Well, at this point I have really only two reasons (besides laziness).
- When I’m looking at images or movies or documents in a directory on the Mac and I hit the spacebar it instantly previews whatever I’m looking at. Windows simply doesn’t have this exceptionally fast preview feature, which I can not for the life of me understand after all these years. I mean it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. But it is.
- Final Cut X is a Mac only application for video editing. And although I want to switch over to Adobe Premier, I haven’t done it yet. Grrr.
Other than those two things, really I SHOULD have adopted the Surface 3! Well, that and the fact that I’m actually going to have to give it back to Microsoft. If I actually owned this baby I’m sure I would have solved those final excuses and I’d settle happily into a long term monogamous relationship with Microsoft.
Everyone Loves the Surface Pro 3
You can get a Surface Pro 3 just like the one I’ve been using on Amazon for about $1,750. And more importantly, it’s got a 4 and a half star rating from 872 people! So guess what, I’m not the only one who really, really likes this machine! There’s a consensus – the Surface Pro 3 rocks!
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 Wins the Geek Beat Editor’s Choice Award
So I’m giving it a Geek Beat Editor’s Choice award because it’s lightweight, it’s fast, it has a beautiful screen, a magnificent keyboard, a super geeky stand, a bad ass docking station option, fantastic touch responsiveness, a sweet pen for writing on the screen… and it’s cool. And it made me hate my Mac.
Oh, and let’s not forget that Windows 10 is right around the corner. So ultimately… who knows. The wind could be blowing Microsoft’s direction. Trust me. If you don’t have a sweet touchscreen laptop – don’t even try one! Because if you do, there’s no going back.
I’ve been using a SP3 for nearly 9 months now, and I have to say I miss the utility and ease of use of my old macbook. The integration of touch screen and desktop actions can be really frustrating, it doesn’t help that you need a magnifying glass to read they tiny hi res desktop interface. Therefore I will be selling the SP3 and replacing it with the latest mackbook
My SP3 – core i5 (4gb ram, 256gb HD) opens webpages and content 20% slower an my Win 7 i5 Dell work laptop with the same specs, so I think there is a real problem lies with window 8.
I’ve thought about picking one of these up as well. I’ve used macs only for the last 8 years, and while there’s a lot to like, a $1750 price tag, $750 more than the last mac laptop I bought and $400 more than the last laptop and tablet I bought, is a hard sell for me. I love what Microsoft has done here, and it’s made me wish Apple would make an all-in-one tablet/laptop computer, but switching back to Windows and not being able to use the software that I rely on daily, and having to pay that much more not including the cost of the type cover would be a bit rough for me. It’s not for me, but I think it will be for a lot of people. Have recommended to a few people and I’ll continue to play with them at Best Buy and keep dreaming of apple doing something similar.
I’m curious, have you tried using this in desktop mode yet with an external display, keyboard and monitor?
John A. Curry says
So John, do you use the preview pane in Windows Explorer? Is it that much slower than the Mac space bar preview or just old habits? 🙂
Rick Cherry says
I agree with your review. I bought a Surface Pro 3 to use as my primary work computer. I wanted to use a Mac but I am IT Project Manager and need to use MS Project and shared calendar feature of Outlook. I love my Surface Pro 3.