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  1. #1
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    Third time's the charm with Microsoft's Surface




    TOP STORY

    Third time's the charm with Microsoft's Surface

    By Michael Lasky

    Are the various models of the Surface tablet best ways to use Windows 8? Or is Win8.1 the ideal platform to enable a powerful and fully functional tablet? This chicken-or-egg question came to mind while I was reviewing the new Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3. And the answer is yes!

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/top-story/third-times-the-charm-with-microsofts-surface]/ (free content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    From the start, Microsoft has been playing catch-up in this market when they need to be playing leap-frog. It's tough to replace a laptop with only a 12" screen, but if you go any larger then you're too large for a tablet. MS needs to start thinking out of the box.

    A while back, ASUS had a phone that nestled into the back of a tablet. It sucked but it was the seed of an idea.

    I'm writing this from a Dell laptop that's plugged into a Targus dock. I've got a keyboard and mouse, two additional monitors, network, and USB hub all via one 3.0 USB connection. Why hasn't MS built a hub for it's surface if it wants to play at being a desktop replacement?

  3. #3
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    Third time's the charm with Microsoft's Surface

    I bought a Surface 3 but returned it. I intended to replace my old iPad mainly for reading Wall Street Journal, the largest national newspaper, and Fortune magazine. Unfortunately the WSJ app is very poor compared to iPad version and Fortune does not have a Windows app as far as I can tell. I could go on but the bottom line is that until Surface gets better apps it is not a table, just a PC.

  4. #4
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    Sorry, but I must disagree with you to an extent.

    The Surface 3 Pro, while a good machine that can replace a home use laptop, cannot, in my opinion, replace a business level laptop. If the business user is consuming content, it works fine. However, if the user is connecting several peripherals, via a USB hub, the machines fail horribly. Our Customer Service users, against our (IT) recommendations are moving to the Surface 3 Pro machines. They have several USB connected pieces of equipment: receipt printer, card scanner, mouse, keyboard, card readers, etc. When using a USB hub, and all these peripherals cause the machines to run slowly and have boot problems.

    And don't get me started on all their network connectivity issues. Wired, in the dock, or wireless, docked or not.

    We have tried replacing the docks, testing 2-3 different USB hubs, and, in some cases, replacing the Surface 3 Pro machines themselves. We have not found a solution that will keep them up-and-running yet.

  5. #5
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    My biggest complaint about the Surface Pro 3 is the lack of a Break/Pause key. This omission makes it useless for running remote command line operations on applications that require a Ctrl-Break key sequence to trigger functions or modes. I've found some kludgey ways to get around this...but I shouldn't have to. Until this is 'fixed', it cannot replace a laptop.

  6. #6
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    "Microsoft obviously learned some hard lessons; the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 are designed to be used primarily as tablets with no compromises. The Surface 3 weighs in at just 1.4 pounds, and the Pro 3 is just a few ounces more (1.8 pounds). Attaching the keyboard/cover adds, surprisingly, about another pound."

    The i5 11.6" Asus Zenbook, which I purchased in 2012 for $699 from the MS store ($599 the next week), weighs 2.4 lbs. I'm missing the point of the Surface, except where the tablet form is absolutely necessary or a good 1366x768 screen doesn't cut it.

  7. #7
    3 Star Lounger Backspacer's Avatar
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    Microsoft ought to focus on what they do best. Apple certainly does. Apple is a style-oriented company. I own Apple stock because the world is full of saps who are style-driven in their purchasing. Microsoft started out in business PCs and spent decades trying and largely succeeding to dominate business computing. Yeah, they also spread computers throughout the homes of the world, but they were really just low-end business PCs with a few games and a stupid animated paperclip.

    I know that consumer crap is everywhere, and I can see the temptation to jump on the bandwagon. But look around you: there are still businesses out there and their use of computers for real business purposes is still growing. Business uses are not so glamorous - my small business owns 8 of them, most used for Point of Sale or back-office small retail purposes - but they are also less susceptible to fads and exciting new doodads. If Microsoft can make consumer stuff without degrading their business products, that's fine. But if you've ever spent the day rattling away on a Cherry keyboard you will realize that laptop keyboards are pretty bad and those silly flat tablet keyboards are nearly useless. Don't even get me started on phone keyboards.
    Last edited by Backspacer; 2015-06-04 at 13:27.

  8. #8
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    For those who haven't actually used as Surface Pro 3, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. I need a go-anywhere replacement for a lab notebook to supplement my Dell Precision "portable workstation" which is immensely powerful but heavy and tends to stay at my desk. The Surface Pro 3 (SP3) will do anything the Dell does (though slower when running heavy simulation) at under 1/3rd the weight and size. So it *does* go with me to the lab / meetings / etc. while the Dell doesn't.

    No Break/Pause key? The add-on keyboard is plenty usable but when really banging away I just use a multimedia enabled Bluetooth keyboard. Same for the mouse. So I seldom need the single USB connector.

    Need lots of peripherals? The docking station looks to provide those in spades, though I've not gotten one - I've not needed it yet.

    Are there less expensive tablet / laptop replacements? Yes, but for my use, the high performance pen and digitizer makes engineering sketches and drawings both possible and easy. The average tablet's finger or stylus resolution is far less capable and the difference is worth the extra cost right there for me.

    In short, the SP3 (and newer S3) are not for everybody - there are higher performance / more cost effective / lighter alternatives that will serve many users very well. But as a serious long time heavy user of computers who has long been very critical of Microsoft, I've been surprised and delighted with mine.

  9. #9
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    In addition to all the issues noted in other posts, its still to heavy to use as a tablet and too "floppy" to use as a laptop. The fact that Microsoft was totally oblivious to the ergonomics of a tablet is simply beyond belief. When someone saturates the market with an excellent design, you have to meet all their features and benefits, which becomes the baseline, and then do something that makes a new product stand out. Even the kid with a lemonade stand down the street knows that. The Surface 3 just proves putting together 100 of the worlds smartest people can result in an idiots folly. Then again other people will question my assumption on the number of smart people and maybe they are right. Does not matter, consumers will vote with their checkbook and that is the final answer!

  10. #10
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    MS is very late to the game on these form factors. And really need Windows 10 to get it 'right'. Very far behind iPads and the like. If I wanted this kind of form factor, I'd probably be looking at the Lenovo Yoga. I agree with backspacer in that I'm still waiting for a 12" version to properly run sheet music software, but the lack of music apps for serious musicians on the MS platform is depressing. Apple went out and made specific marketing to the app developers for music, design and video to leapfrog into the front of that market, I see little to nothing that MS is doing to recapture the high ground there. In fact it seems like game over. MS, what is your developer marketing team doing?

  11. #11
    Lounger OneDave's Avatar
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    I bought a SP3 in March and can't say it's usable yet:

    a) Having to learn Windows 8.1-yuck.
    b) It goes into updates while I'm using it, stopping all use until it is done--right in the middle of a meeting.
    c) I can't figure out how to share data files between the SP3 and two other PCs that I use for OneDrive sharing. The issue is that apparently to share, I have to log into OneDrive using the same MS Account on all PCs, which I don't want to do.
    d) In OneNote 2013 desktop, the pen misbehaves while I am writing meeting notes. It stops inking and goes into typing mode (with the type cover attached but folded under). Sometimes, I can select the ink mode again quickly, sometimes not.
    e) When taking notes in OneNote, the surface apparently picks up where my palm is resting and opens up the calendar and clock.

    I'm having to spend a lot of time learning and troubleshooting my new $3,000 tablet and I'm not happy about it.
    Dave

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