Surface Pro 3 impressions

I got a chance to check out the new Surface Pro 3 at the Microsoft store today.  Most of the stores should have demos ready by now.

Overall, it’s a big improvement from a Surface Pro 2.

  • It’s surprisingly light for a 12″ screen with a more square aspect ratio.
  • Let’s get real here … 16×9 is a terrible aspect ratio for a tablet and the fact that it took Microsoft three product launches to address that is simply ridiculous.  The new 3×2 (15×10) ratio is good.
  • The kickstand works well at all angles, although it’s so stiff that you will be skittish adjusting it at first for fear of bending the hinge too far.  I still don’t understand why the stand runs the whole width of the tablet.  Surely with metal the material strength is high enough that they only need the stand around the edges?
  • The keyboard works better than any previous cover.  The extra hinge does secure the cover with extra stiffness.  But, the touchpad is still a bit too small and doesn’t seem to sample input as flawlessly and as often as a Mac touchpad.  Plus the keyboard always feels like it’s too close to you, making you twist your wrists to compensate.
  • The included pen is nice, although I’m not totally convinced how I would use it yet.
  • Performance seemed good, although the polish of the built in apps was questionable as usual.  In particular, IE looked like it was being upscaled.

The problem with this iteration is that the Surface Pro 3 just feels too big to be used as a real tablet.  I handed it to my girlfriend and we both agreed … it just didn’t seem friendly enough to use on the couch or lying in bed.  Maybe in a pinch, but, otherwise, no.  So you’re sort of left with a tablet that doesn’t quite get to a notebook level computing experience, and is annoyingly large if functioning as a tablet.  Bleh.

I’d like for convergence between tablets and notebooks to succeed as I would like to carry less computing devices on long trips.  But we’re not there yet.  The lightness and overall usability advances of the Surface Pro 3, however, shows that we are getting ever closer to the goal.


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