Saturday, 30 August 2014 14:10

The Surface Pro 3 is right for work - not bad for play either

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The Surface Pro 3 hit Australian retailers’ shelves on Thursday 28 August, 2014. While not ‘walking out the door’ initial sales volumes have been quietly impressive.

“It is a fine Ultrabook replacement but it is a very expensive tablet” according to my local JB Hi-Fi. “Problem is that users are still confused about that – and sales people find it hard to ask for $1500+ for what looks like a tablet,” he adds.

It appears that Microsoft’s gamble – an expensive ‘hybrid’ for want of a better word – is appealing to business users as a notebook replacement but has missed the mark in a tablet sense.

I showed the Surface 3 Pro review unit to a number of envious notebook, and ‘dyed in the wool’ MacBook Air, users over the past couple of weeks.

One uses a Windows desktop at work and an iPad Air as a personal device when travelling or accessing files at home. After a 24-hour loan, he is ready to junk the iPad “The Surface Pro 3 is amazing – I can access files at the office, I can create and edit Office files, the backlit keyboard is remarkable, it has Skype, DropBox and I can use Outlook [Exchange] so I get all my Notes as well – sold,” he said.

Another, a road warrior, has been carrying a two kilogram plus HP 12” Elitebook (with long life battery as well) could not get over the 1.09kg weight (with keyboard). This person is a heavy Office user – he had unsuccessfully tried an iPad and gave up due to compatibility and screen size. “I want one – the screen size is incredibly useful and the battery life is amazing – I can do real work,” he said.

I found a MacBook Air user and as we know they are a very loyal lot – must be something to do with the mandatory sheep like devotion to Apple products or does Apple really know too much about its users? I got a grudging nod of approval. Oh well you can tell an Apple user – you just cannot tell them much.

I have had the Surface Pro 3 now since 12 August and wrote a very comprehensive review after week one.

I am still smiling, it is fabulous to use, the pen/stylus will be my friend, and so far, it has exceeded every requirement I have for an ultra-portable work device. The only issue - it has extended my workday by several hours because I can work anywhere!

If I have one complaint it is not great in-bed – 12” is a little too big! I have used an iPad mini and a 10” Asus T100 and these are just the right size for quick reference to the internet or as an e-reader. Nevertheless, I will persevere.

I have also tried to prove Apple’s assertion that its 1 million apps are the raison d'être for iPads. Well, after three weeks, I cannot find one single app – or close substitute app – that that is not in the Windows Store or where the functionality is not part of the millions of x86 programs that run on Windows.

I have no problems connecting with my HP printer, using any USB legacy device or joining an office Domain or home network. That is Windows province – iOS in particular and OS X do not do this!

I have read all the fan boy criticism of Windows 8.1. Call me crazy but I like Windows Metro live tiles in a touch environment – sorry I forgot that Mac’s are not touchy/feely. When I am using it as a desktop replete with dual screen monitors, keyboard, and mouse the familiar Windows 7 interface is still there.

Summary

Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 were good and better and set the scene for Surface Pro 3 - yet the latter is a quantum leap over the former. The difference is the 12”, 3:2 ratio, 2160x1440 screen and the ultra slim 9.1mm thinness and 800g weight.

I may never convince inveterate MacBook/iPad users but let me tell you that their cognitive dissonance (where beliefs don’t match reality) needs to be working overtime right now.

The Surface Pro 3 is a gorgeous, fully featured device - it had every techy type drooling over it, all want it. It is absolutely the winner in the Ultrabook and MacBook Air replacement stakes having re-defined portability. It is acceptable, if a tad expensive, as a consumer tablet too – glorious screen definition and colours, immersive movies, and quality sound.

Related - Review: Gigabyte Aero 15X V8 with 8th Gen Intel Core i7 Coffee Lake H CPU

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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