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One year with the Surface Pro 3: The best computer I have ever owned


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Engineer reviews using it as his primary computer.

 

Excerpt:

 

"Computers are tools that help us get things done with efficiency. We use them for work, and sometimes for play, but most people I know don't have any special affinity for their computer. My feelings have changed thanks to the Surface Pro 3 and I actually look forward to using it every day.

It is the best computer I have ever purchased.

 

I bought my Surface Pro 3 in May 2014 and it quickly became my primary computer for my home office, while accompanying me on 20 out-of-town trips. It's my only tablet, with an iPad Mini and Nexus 9 coming and going because they were redundant and offered less. I've used my Surface Pro 3 in a number of different ways and in different situations so let me take you through my last year of usage.

 

Engineering consulting work

 

My education and primary job is working as a professional engineer in the marine field. I previously wrote about using my original Surface Pro for engineering work and the experience is even better on the Surface Pro 3 thanks to the larger display, longer battery life, and better keyboard.

 

On the project management side of the house, I use the Surface Pro 3 to log in to my work VPN and then access Microsoft Project to check on milestones, resources, and work to develop proposals.

While I do have a Dell Ultrabook as my work computer, it sits in the dock when I leave the office or travel for work while the Surface Pro 3 goes with me.

 

ZDNet writing

 

My second job is writing here on ZDNet and the Surface Pro 3 is excellent as a writing tool, especially when I pop it into the Microsoft Docking Station connected to my Dell touchscreen monitor, wireless keyboard, and wireless mouse.

 

I have a web browser open on the Dell monitor while I write HTML code in TextPad on the Surface Pro 3 display. I've been writing in HTML forever and trust it more than the CMS online form.

 

The Surface Pro 3 is useful for photo editing, task management with Wunderlist, research, and discussions with editors using instant messaging and email.

 

ZDNet's Kevin Tofel and I record the MobileTechRoundup podcast a couple times a month. I record using Skype and Audacity on the Surface Pro 3."

 

 

In the full article here: http://www.zdnet.com/article/one-year-with-the-surface-pro-3-the-best-computer-i-have-ever-owned/?tag=nl.e541&s_cid=e541&ttag=e541&ftag=TRE7ce1dc9

 

He goes on to cover:

 

Out-of-town travel

 

Daily commute

 

Tablet mode

 

But the best part are the older folks and folks who are laptop fans really dissing the Surface 3 Pro and tablet form factor computers in the reader feedbacks at the bottom. Some here will love the feedback comments. ;) I on the other hand agree with the author and love the hybrid tablet and laptop combos like the T100 and the T200 I have, that are laptops until the screen is released and then it's a tablet. I Love my tablets without the keyboards because they are not my primary computers. But If I did need one for my primary too I'd simply hook up a full size keyboard/mouse, or in my case a keyboard with touchpad to the side , my K-400, to it on a desk or TV tray, with it in one of my many tablet stands for prolonged work.

 

But there are folks that just won't ever be happy with a tablet used as a computer and many of those have an iPad or Android tablet that can't really fit the bill as a productivity computer. They have made up their minds tablets are out. I had difficulty because they did not respond well to my fingers which I thought was due to me age and dry finger skin. Turned out they work fine it just took me a few weeks of use to get the hang of it.

 

:D

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I've owned every model of the Surface since they were released. Love the Pro 3! I still have a desk top but am considering going to a docking station to make use of a full scale keyboard and monitor. Will probable wait on that until the desk top needs replacing. My only concerns is the need to someday replace the Surface battery and I'm not sure about the longevity of the storage drive (flash memory or whatever they call it).

 

I'm running Windows 10 now on the Surface. I'm on the slow ring for updates and really not having any issues with it other than there is a bug causing the Surface to heat up when charging while the tablet is running or in sleep mode. With the Surface turned off, there is no heat issue.

 

I'm also in the process of going back to all things Microsoft such as browsers, photo editing and more. I'm tired of using all the stand alone programs when Microsoft offers built in products that do the same.

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Me too,

I've been MS all along but do keep some third party programs. MS Money and Streets and trips got beaten by other companies that did a better job like Intuit Quicken. And there is no need to pay big bucks to update old navigation programs. Our Android Google Nav, and on my Windows phone I use Here+ which is a superb Nav program. I am keeping one of our five or six Garmin vehicle GPS systems for old times sake. I could not imagine using anything but my phone, a Nokia Lumia 822 LTE on Verizon now, it also has GSM so it can do AT&T. My Windows Phone (WP) is now running WP 8.1., love it!

 

I also got the first Surface RT when they were debuted in January 2013 and since it could not do email we sold the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 and 7 when I got the HPx2 hybrid 11.6" Windows 8 tablet with keyboard. Then got my wife a Lenovo 11.6" tablet with Windows 8 11.6" too. Now I run an ASUS T200T 11.6" Tablet hybrid with keyboard. It is essentially an ultrabook running the fastest Z3795 quad core Atom with 4GB of RAM and 64bit Windows 8.1.

 

On the side is the Dell Venue 11 pro with full 1080p HD and a gorgeous screen. It s a 10.8" screen but with the 32 bit Windows 8.1 and 2GB RAM. My wife is downsizing to it, and I think I'm going to a Surface with 128GB SSD and 4GB RAM. The graphics is superior to this T200 as it is only 720p HD. And it is a faster yet cooler Atom chipset. Selling the Lenovo 11.6" for $200 and this ASUS for $350.00 with a 500GB HD in the keyboard dock will buy me the Surface save 40 bucks.

 

All that to say yes, we like Windows here too. The only reason we don't do docks is that I can do the same thing with a powered USB hub. But we also have nice desktops with mine a quad HD All in One Dell 27", both of ours have 8GB of RAM and fast SSDs. But we have a house. If I can ever get my SH to go back to fulltime RVing we'd sell he desktops and go all Windows 10 tablets.

 

There are a lot of folks discovering Windows tablet computers, and the ones most surprised are the ones that thought they were just like the Android and Apple tablets. Very limited cell phone OS' running on cell phone processors. They are getting better and faster. I believe the folks with Apple computers will soon be using Windows tablets, like in the last five years lots of Windows users used iPads. I think the Windows laptop users and desktop users ill be shocked at what they've been missing.

 

How do you like Windows 10?? I'm waiting for the public release. I jumped through all the preview hoops with the three Window 8 previews. Lots of changes for the good for most of us. There'll always be folks with change resistance. I like using touch and the keyboard and mouse on my big desktop, but the touch is only for interacting with some apps.

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Take the best of Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 = Windows 10. It's that good. Best of all it will be free to all current users of Windows 7 and 8 once the public release comes out in a couple of months.

 

I used to be a power user of MS DOS when PCs first came out. I agree, we will see many apple/android users move back to Windows. Still more will start to run Windows software on those devices. Microsoft continues to be the best software builders out there.

 

I'm also using the new Spartan (now called Windows Edge) in place of Internet Explorer. So far so good.

 

I also switched to Windows phones some time ago. Still waiting for the day they build a Surface phone - if ever.

 

Think I'll not be upgrading to the Surface Pro 4 unless the processor is fanless and runs with the same power of at least an Intel I5 processor. I'm not willing to loose the power in order to go to a unit with out a fan, even if it does get a little better battery life.

 

My wife still loves her Surface 2 running on the RT operating system. I've not read much about the new Surface 3 version other than it runs full windows. The Surface 3 will be the first model we have not purchased. Frankly, I still don't see much use in running full windows on a lessor processor.

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I'm one who "might" switch back to the pure Windows environment. Once they meet all my requirements. Which they are "getting there". But not there yet. I tried to do it a year ago with my T100 hybrid device. It just was not happening. Google stuff is still way easier to deal with. Plus there is no high end, big screen Windows phone (yet). The Windows web interface for Word, etc performs terrible (as contrasted with Google). They make it hard to stay in sych, too. But all that should be wrung out over time. Then I'll go back to MS. If they do not take too long.....

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Hi Jack,

 

Agree there are a lot of places Microsoft is lacking. I'm still using some outside stuff like Google Maps and similar. The main thing I worked on was going to everything with a Microsoft operating system. My most recent find was Microsoft Photo Gallery winch was a free add on. I had no idea how much Gallery had in terms of photo editing to include bulk changes such as resizing a group of photos.

 

It would be hard to match a Nokia Lumina (Microsoft) phone for photographs. Agree, they need a new top line phone but those don't sell well in Europe where Microsoft is expanding their phones. I'm using a Microsoft phone and everything syncs well with Microsoft accounts (Google calendar is now working as well). I'm learning how to use Outlook and may move to Microsoft for a calendar. Google calendar is hard to beat.

 

Because the Surface Pro 3 I'm using has the power to do about anything, software like Photo Gallery run flawless. I'm thinking because I'm switching to other Microsoft products there is a benefit in compatibility. I'm running the I5 Surface Pro with 128 gig drive and 4 gigs of ram with is the smallest build I suggest for doing any serious work. I also have a 64 gig micro card where I can move photos to. I back everything up to a stand alone 1 tbit drive and have a wonderful external DVD/CD drive that hangs of the Surface USB port when I'm using it. Again, all this works flawless with the Surface Pro. I don't recall a single time having to go out and try and find a utility driver.

 

Fortunately, Microsoft builds in a lot that can be used in places like Google. My most current adventure is importing Excel spreadsheet data into Google Maps.

 

I've got much to learn about using all these tools in a Fulltime RV living environment. Personally, I'm not sold with ditching the desk top in an RV nor that a lap top will get it done either. If I had to decide today what I'd do within an RV I would lean towards the Surface Pro 3 with a docking station, full size monitor and keyboard.

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MDS,

What version of WP are you running. If 8, you don't have Cortana which gives some great scheduling and calendar function by voice. The Lumia flagship phones are coming, but MS is going for the low hanging fruit which makes sense when they are only picking up a few percentages of market share every year.

 

Jack,

I'm tickled with where it is now but I'll post when a phablet Six hundred dollar Lumia comes out. I love my Lumia 822. For 80 bucks new it can't be beat for me. 4.3" screen is fine for me. But the OLED screen is amazing! It looks like a full HD and it is barely 720 HD.

 

I read a great slide show about edge today on Tech Republic and I think I'm going to like it.

 

I'm withholding all opinions on Window 10 on tablets, desktops, and phones, until after I've done my best to adapt for a month. But it looks like a step back on UI, and three steps forward on everything else especially Cortana on all form factors, and Edge. I detest the default browser on my WP 8.1. I use it, it works, but counter intuitive.

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Yesterday a tool bar item popped up that allows me to reserve a copy of Win 10. It will then automatically be downloaded and be ready to install. I will hold off on that because I prefer to download ISO files, then burn to either DVD or Flash drives for installation. In an RV environment, especially while using MiFi devices, downloading Win 10 on 2 PCs can use up a lot of the monthly allowance from Verizon.

 

We both now have convertibles (Asus TP500L). With these you flip over the keyboard to go to tablet mode. These are nice because the keyboard can be flipped less than fully over and provide a stand with which to hold the Screen more vertical. Yes we give up some weight in that the keyboard is always attached, but we have found these work well for us. The added benefit is the full size keyboard and larger (15.4 inch) screen. For older, fat fingers and eyes that are showing signs of wear, these features are attractive to us.

 

When I looked at the Surface Pro, 2 things seemed detrimental to me, the smaller screen/keyboard size and the larger price. Yes, we did not get SSD, but for our needs the convertibles work fine.

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MDS and Derek,

 

As Derek knows I've attempted the "pure" MS experience several times and fell back to my Googleshere.....which I admit works well. I'm all about results, so until MS makes it a complete experience, like Google does, with compelling applications - like Maps, for instance - then I stick with what works. I'm still using "in between" applications. I use Web-based Word, Excel. But primarily I use Docs on Google Drive. They just make it so easy, and I'm not using sophisticated capabilities. Microsoft still has some learning to do about how to attract customers in today's environment. I've been toying with buying a Chrome machine for Danielle, but I just can't bring myself to do it!! Maybe later today :(

 

I have all the account info set up on MS....Outlook, etc. But until they "complete" the experience I just can't move to the "whole thing".

 

I use a 17" laptop (on my lap, with an external mouse) as a development/productivity machine. It works well for my needs, which are mainly web development and writing. The large screen is great for web development. But I actually think I could "survive" with a high performance 13" screen ultra. I don't think a Surface would work for me, but I will try the latest. I just can't deal with the small screen and tiny keyboard. But we will see. The specs are great....the price not so much.

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RV;

 

I'm using Windows Phone 8.1 and Cortana daily. I decided not to beta test Windows Phone 10. I like the fact if I put something on the calendar it will befalls to my Google calendar. I use the reminders feature of Cortana the most. For example she reminds me every Tuesday at 7:00 am to put the trash out. The geo fencing (think that is the right word) is great as well. For example the next time I arrive at the local Walmart she should be reminding me to get some bug spray. It as freaky when I first received a reminder if I left for work now I would arrive on time and there was no reported traffic accidents on my route. She apparently learned where I work and after a while what time I normally arrive. Very cool!

 

Jack:

 

Thanks for the idea of a 17" screen laptop. I owned one in the past and found the screen size more usable. Fortunately the Surface Pro 3 has a great screen resolution which helps out a bunch. I've been using the Surface for about 95% of all my home computer needs. I'm thinking a Surface Pro with a 15" screen, which is a common size for laptops, would be something I might look into if they every built one.

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Jack,

I'm going to go Surface , not Pro, with 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM, and 64 bit Window 10. However I already have that form factor in my Atom 3770 Venue 11 pro. 10.8" is on the edge of my tolerance. As you once said, and I agree the sweet spot for me is 11.6". For me it is all about the tablet weight, longest battery life, no fans and cool to the touch at all times. The only reason I know I'll be selling the ASUST200 is that the Dell spoiled me with the full HD display and IPS screen. I also want the full size USB 3 port, separate power port, and good speakers. The Venue speakers are very loud and clear. Acceptable for music even.

 

The pro has only one attraction to me, the 12" screen. But I don't want the heat in my hand the i3, 5, 7, SoCs produce. Don't need the processing power, and if I want to use a keyboard I'll plug in my Logitech unifying receiver and pair it with either of my two Logitech wireless kb/mouse/touchpad systems. I prefer the K-400 for travel.

 

I have the Dell XPS 2720 for hard work and there are really no computers with better specs. More RAM than my 8, bigger SSDs, but it even has HDMI in as well out, so I can watch my Roku in quad HD, it even has a thunderbolt port. The 27" quad HD touch screen is unmatched in my experience. So I won't be buying the keyboard. The stylus definitely.

 

I bought the Surface Pro 2 new overstock from TigerDirect and it was uncomfortably warm in use, and very hot in my hand when charging. It gave ~4 hours before charging. I take that long doing emails some days. So I returned it. The only other time I returned any computer because it just didn't suit me was the Lenovo 8" tablet with the fast quad core, brilliant HD IPS display, but the lack of a full size USB3 port, and the limitations of the 32GB SSD made it unusable for me without docking it to a powered hub. And I already have three desktops.

 

My wants are not needs. But my tablets are for consumption with the productivity capability in reserve just in case. All my systems have Office 2010 Home and biz on them. We use Outlook locally for IMAP and like the rest for reading on the mobiles and using a well.

 

Of course that is today. My computer wants are subject to immediate change given a deal at half price or some such.Tomorrow someone might offer me their Surface or Surface Pro in trade for our refrigerator or something. MS warranties are completely transferable as I found with my first Surface RT two years ago. Man time flies!

 

Medico,

I really like that form factor since Lenovo brought out the first Yoga. My hybrid T200 just detaches from the keyboard base, which I never use, same as my previous hybrid. But I'm waiting for a bit because while we are living in the RV, my Dell 2720 will be the LR TV and computer with the wireless kb and mouse. But the T200 will be better to use on the sofa or with the kb at the table. I think it serves best for folks needing a computer first, tablet second.

 

I have a second HD expansion bay in the T200 kb base, and have a 120SSD in there. But I never connect the base so it is wasted on me. It is excess and slower than my Crucial and Toshiba 256GB primary SSD drives. So it goes with when I sell it. I like the idea that if it gets knocked over by someone tripping on the power cable while I have a scan or video running the drive can't crash any heads. The speed is nice but really only at boot is it a difference.

 

What I hope for is renewed interest by MS in creating a good image and restore program like Windows 7 has. Making an image is easy with 8/8.1. restoring is iffy at best if the original OS version has ben upgraded to a different one than it came with. For example. My 2720 came in with Windows 8 by mistake when they replaced it accidentally. I never checked until it bit me. I used one of my Win 8 Pro licenses, and they sent me a stylus because I did not want to redo another system. The UEFI and boot security makes it next to impossible to load an image, and it will be harder if Windows 10 doesn't solve the local backup image issues.

 

I'd also like to see them put the old emphasis on Defender they had for MSE. I know it uses their enterprise endpoint engine and with Malwarebytes premium backing it up I have no issues.

 

Keep us informed bud!

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