Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review

From the launch of the first generation of Microsoft Surface until now, with Surface Pro 3, we have seen proposals of all kinds to address the concept of hybrid between PC and tablet. Bold designs, more functional concepts but among all of them the most interesting has been the Redmond. Something that has merit since they know their software like no one else, but they do not have the experience of manufacturing the hardware as such.

This family continues on its way, although it is not exactly profitable for Microsoft, in 2014 with a new generation that not only brings changes to the device but also in its strategy to position it in the market. The balance between laptop and tablet this time tilts in favor of the first to approach the public with a concept that we all know. Let's see in our analysis if they are able to change course and above all to become a reference.

Technical specifications

Surface Pro 3 screen 12 inches, ClearType Full HD Plus 2160 x 1440 pixels screen, 3: 2 Size 292.1 × 201.4 × 9.1mm Weight 800 grams Processor Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 Haswell. Integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 RAM 4/8 gigabytes Disk 64/128/256/512 GB according to price S.O. version Windows 8.1 Connectivity Wi-Fi (802.11a / b / g / n), Bluetooth 4.0 Cameras Two 720p HD cameras, front and rear Ports USB 3.0, microSDXC card reader, Mini DisplayPort, keyboard / case port

Official starting prices

  • 64 GB SSD and Intel i3: 799 euros
  • 128 GB SSD and Intel i5: 999 euros
  • 256 GB SSD and Intel i5: 1,299 euros
  • 256 GB SSD and Intel i7: 1,549 euros
  • 512 GB SSD and Intel i7: 1,949 euros

On paper, Microsoft's commitment is clear in the hardware section. Again, a fourth generation of Intel processors that this time covers its three members (i3, i5 and i7) making it clear that they want to reach both those who demand a high-performance team and those who settle for a discreet team for undemanding tasks Although I personally believe that the most modest configuration is not the most recommended: for 200 euros we have twice the capacity and a better processor.

Again Microsoft is committed to a single Pro range and forgets RT for Surface. It is thus clear that they do not want to approach the product as a keyboard tablet but as a light laptop with a complete operating system without limitations in the software.

The memory configurations are quite accurate although, once again, the 64 GB memory falls short and having to juggle flash memory for more space is frustrating. This time it is not the processor that leads the change between generations but other aspects more related to the functionality of the equipment. Changes and modifications that demonstrate that making a good product and refining it takes time. Let's take a closer look at all these transformations.

Video analysis of Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3 as a laptop

It is difficult to say that the balance is balanced in a hybrid between PC and tablet. In the end one of the two parts pulls more and in this case it is clear that although the keyboard case is an accessory not included in the device, the orientation is clear: we are facing a laptop inside the body of a tablet. With the changes in this generation it becomes even more evident.

We go from Full HD to locate ourselves in a WQHD that offers us a lot of sharpness and where the pixel is not appreciated.

The biggest change with the naked eye is found in the size and proportions of the screen. Microsoft abandons the 16: 9 format of a tablet to position itself in more square dimensions (3: 2) that facilitate vision both when we have it in hand and in portable mode. The increase in dimensions is a success: neither too big nor too small. Perfect to be able to be in front of the screen without tiring the eyes excessively, something that had always put me back with the previous models.

Another point to keep in mind on the screen is found in the resolution. We go from Full HD to place ourselves in a WQHD that offers us a lot of sharpness and where the pixel is not appreciated. At first glance it may seem like an unnecessary luxury, but when we are reading texts or viewing high-resolution photographs, it is greatly appreciated to have a panel with such density. Also here it is clear that they attack high-end notebooks such as MacBook with Retina display.

Growing in size has not translated into more weight or thickness. On the contrary, Microsoft has finally struck a balance between the two variables. One hundred grams may not seem like much, but considering that the equipment is larger, the proportion makes it a light equipment that we can take anywhere and use it in different ways.

In the design Microsoft is right again and brings us a device made with great care, for me the best product that they have designed in Redmond to date. Magnesium body pleasant to the touch and giving it great robustness. The air vents are generous and the finish is very well defined on both the rear and the front, with a logo, Windows touch button, which goes to the side instead of the bottom.

The great novelties in design can be found in the hinge. This time we do not have two fixed positions but rather any possibility that goes from 22 to 150 degrees. The first time we shot it down to configure it, it is surprising how hard it is. It holds up well and does not give the feeling of being a fragile component, it is resistant and allows us to put it in any position without fear of the piece breaking.

In the design Microsoft is right again and brings us a device made with great care, for my taste the best product they have designed in Redmond to date

The buttons are sturdy and the microSD slot is somewhat hidden underneath the part attached to the hinge. The charger connector has been slightly modified to make it thinner and more subtle, it engages magnetically. It does not give a strong blow when attaching it nor when removing it.

Microsoft makes a significant leap in design with many successes, but it still has some aspects to improve on. For example: a single USB (3.0) port is insufficient. If we regularly use any accessory that needs that connector, we will be sold to have to be changing every two by three as we need it. To me personally, as a user of mice and detractor of trackpads, I know little on a computer.

The keyboard is very comfortable but not perfect, and the autonomy reaches seven hours, correct but not spectacular

Conceiving a PC without a keyboard is impossible and once again Microsoft is betting on a keyboard case as attractive as it is expensive where the change in proportions works in its favor. It is really comfortable for how fine it is. Typing fast but sometimes the keystrokes are too loud. They have not yet reached the point of quality of some chiclet like that of the MacBook (for me of the best) but it did not seem somewhat frustrating to me either. It does very well, but there is room for improvement.

The keyboard can be placed in two positions. Either parallel to the ground or slightly tilted thanks to a magnetic stripe across the top of the keyboard that attaches, quite tightly, to the bottom of the Surface. A little detail that makes typing more comfortable. The trackpad has also increased in size and although it is more comfortable it is not particularly accurate. In the end, many times I have decided to trust more of my fingers on the screen.

Being with him at the table is like having a laptop. The sensations are very good and when it comes to working with him or doing daily tasks there is not much difference. In the lap it is comfortable, finally, and although it does not have as much surface to support it solves it very well with the hinge and its variable angle of inclination. The good thing is that we will not notice the heat but if you use it in summer and rest the Surface Pro on your bare leg, you will notice that it sticks a little.

The Mini Display port adds value for everything related to the second screen and the office world. It is true that we will have to buy an adapter and not simply connect an HDMI, VGA or DVI cable but in the size it has it is the most appropriate solution. Much value to simply plug it in and work on a larger monitor or have a support when the twelve inches are too small.

The keyboard is comfortable but not perfect. When we press it vibrates a lot and the sound can be a little uncomfortable. In fact, when we have it slightly tilted we notice that the low thickness of the cover is fine as an aesthetic reason but it is insufficient to hold the force that we do with our fingers.

The trackpad has never been my first option to work with it and in the end I had to cover something as valuable as the only USB, in addition to 3.0, to place the receiver of my wireless mouse. The answer is not entirely bad but it will take away the desire to use it often. Increasing it in size has been a success, but in precision and comfort they have not hit the key yet.

The feeling that Surface Pro 3 transmits to me as a computer is that I do not lose anything important regarding an ultrabook and that what I gain in weight and size are two relevant reasons to take it into account. In the end the few buts that it has in this section are almost all small: upgradeable trackpad, correct but somewhat noisy keyboard ... The only thing that puts me back is having a single USB port, something difficult to fit into this vision as a computer .

Productivity and autonomy

Productivity has undoubtedly been the mantra of Microsoft for many years and Satya Nadella's latest letter to her employees only corroborates this speech, it is her DNA and her hallmark. Not only do they reiterate it many times but they know how to achieve it and in this sense Microsoft Surface Pro 3 does not disappoint. For a few weeks I parked my MacBook Pro and got to work on it.

The separation between classic applications and those that are optimized for Modern UI continues to leave us with an interface conflict

The software features light and dark. At this point it is impossible to question the speed and fluidity of Windows 8. It is a fast operating system and since its release in version 8.1 we have seen many advances. Some additions such as local searches in Bing or the expansion of applications in the catalog are true successes. In fact they have managed to bring to their cause apps like Flipboard or a native client for Facebook that provide a lot of value.

There is no doubt that Windows 8.1 is today a competent operating system and one that can be worked on without fear of encountering bugs or missing major applications. It has everything and there you can see all the heritage and the journey they have had. Of course, not everything plays its favor since there is a dilemma that at the moment they are not managing to save.

The separation between classic apps and those that are optimized for Modern UI is still a bit raucous. It is not so much a jumping problem, there they solve it very well with touch gestures from the device's frame, but a conflict of interfaces and how we have some applications designed to touch and use complete while others have the aspect of a lifetime with its windows.

The design helps improve team productivity. On the one hand, being able to put it in more positions makes us have more freedom and adjusts to more types of use, but above all it has gained in comfort to work when we have the equipment in our lap. Much more comfortable than the previous two generations and now without excuse of having to lean on a table to work.

In our case we have tested the configuration with Intel Core i5 with 4GB of RAM and 128GB in the SSD. In what has been demanded it has worked giving the size although there are some details that do not finish convincing us. The air vents, as we talked about before, are generous and although Microsoft boasts of fanless and silent technology it really is not.

Inside there is a small fan that is responsible for moving the air and although it does not make excessive noise when we have a few applications it shows. It is not annoying but it is present. It is not a computer that gets very hot, the normal thing has been to find the GPU at about 54 degrees when we have worked with Surface Pro 3. It is also true that the weather at this time of year does not help precisely.

To play it fulfills well but the fact of having an integrated graphics card limits it and the catalog of games that we can enjoy is somewhat scarce. Titles from a few years ago or those that do not require great requirements. Taking into account that it is not a machine made to play and it is a device designed for mobility, it has enough options to kill time and have fun, if we want more we are mistaking the equipment.

Games that don't require a lot of graphics performance run smoothly. In tests we have made titles like La Mulana, Civilization V, Mercenary Kings or Risk of Rain they work smoothly. However, as soon as we go to demanding titles such as Dishonored or Battlefield 3 quickly, we realize that the drop in frames makes it not worth exploiting this facet too much.

Regarding autonomy Microsoft promises nine hours of web browsing and to be able to endure a working day with it. The number of hours in operation, around seven hours on average per charge, is correct but in the end we will have to carry the charger if we are going to be out all day. The good thing, yes, is that we will not have to carry the mobile phone since the source comes with a USB connector.

Surface Pro 3 as a tablet

We remove the keyboard case and start using it as a tablet. The screen has not only increased in size as we have seen before but also in resolution. Gone are some Full HD that until not long ago seemed to us the zenith in a laptop to give way to a WQHD resolution that is not noticed from the first moment. Very sharp screen with an almost complete angle of view and a wide color spectrum and without deviations towards any tone.

The stylus pairs well with OneNote, but it's still a bit orphan of apps that take advantage of it.

The tactile response is precise and the glass is somewhat thinner, something necessary for the pen that incorporates the Surface Pro 3 to work properly. This time, yes, this accessory makes a difference and it is not a mere complement. Writing with it or sketching is very comfortable and the screen also recognizes without problems what the hand is and what the pointer is, so we can support ourselves without fear that it will malfunction.

Microsoft has greatly improved the technology of its pencil: there is hardly any parallax and to accurately recognize any point as long as we are 0.5mm or less from the screen. It is comfortable and encourages you to use it instead of becoming a complement that we only take out to surprise people with our new gadget. An accessory that adds value although it needs more prominence.

In this sense, the integration with the pencil is also a little decaffeinated. With One Note they are a perfect match but at the moment few applications, Adobe Photoshop among them, take advantage of it. It will be a matter of time but in that sense the experience as a tablet may be a little lame and in the end we end up using it more as a laptop.

As a tablet, its weight complies well and the hinge helps whether we are going to use it to watch video or to tilt it to the maximum and be able to use the virtual keyboard more comfortably. However, we return to what we mentioned before with the software dichotomy. Very well the integration with the optimized applications but when we leave them the experience loses attractiveness.

We open Flipboard for example, perfect. An application optimized for us to use with our fingers, just like in its version for iOS or Android. Then we go to Spotify to change songs or find an artist to generate a themed radio: here everything is complicated because we return to the design of an application made for computers and not for tablets. Using your finger as a cursor is not always comfortable.

Both the front and rear cameras return without major news. Very just quality that although it complies for videoconferences it is not a delight either. They will see us, yes, but it will not happen as in other tablets where we will encourage ourselves to take more photos with it, despite how strange it is to use a device of these characteristics as a camera.

At the third (almost) was the expired, the opinion of Xataka

Microsoft again makes clear that although they put the software they are also capable of designing equipment that balances power with design and differential values ​​thanks to accessories such as the keyboard case or the pencil. Generation to generation they approach their hybrid ideal this time offering a tough competitor to ultrabooks with its clear focus on the laptop-on-tablet experience.

They gain in potential and by size are already postulated as a very attractive alternative to those looking for a laptop less than fifteen inches. It complies well in all aspects to replace our current computer and with the plus of mobility that gives you having lost so much weight since the last version that we analyzed in Xataka. Today, the only thing missing is having a more robust keyboard. Very well in this facet.

The future of laptops goes through these hybrid proposals that allow two uses (PC and tablet) to converge on the same device without the need for major commitments

As a tablet, everything related to weight has been solved although the stigma of a bad camera and a device that continues to radiate too much heat to hold it in your hands remains. The user experience is good, USB adds value as a tablet and the pen has made a significant leap in quality. It complies well, but it doesn't convince me that fragmented experience between classic applications and optimized ones. Furthermore, the number of optimized applications is still small.

Better or worse than an ultrabook? After having tried the three generations of Surface, it is clear to me that the future of laptops goes more through these hybrid proposals that allow two uses (PC and tablet) to converge on the same device without the need for major commitments. What is lost is not substantial today but I think we are not yet facing a team that makes this dream come true.

8,7

Design9 screen Performance8.7 Keyboard / trackpad8 Software9 Autonomy8

In favor

  • Very light
  • Excellent screen in resolution and aspect ratio
  • Perfectly compliant as a laptop
  • Very versatile hinge

Against

  • The experience as a tablet can be improved
  • The keyboard case is almost mandatory, despite being an accessory
  • Lack of optimized applications

The computer has been released for testing by Microsoft. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises

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