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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Speed and features No comments good
  • Design and form factor No comments so-so
  • Battery life No comments good
  • Display No comments good
  • Durability No comments good
  • Expandability No comments poor
  • Noise No comments good
  • Portability (size / weight) No comments great!
Detailed review
With Microsoft's quest to have a tablet replace a laptop, they've churned out the Surface Pro 3. I purchased this device with the intent of using it in engineering classes as something I can carry around and work math on.

First Impression - very thin, light, and sturdy feeling. Silver coating seems good, but the test of time will tell, as the titanuim black on the Surface Pro 2 came off after a while. Buttons are placed well, ports not in funky places or anything; it seems pretty good. Friction lock is a very nice addition to the surface. The

Screen - high resolution and responsive. Both key in a laptop/tablet combo. The touch home button is a nice touch and responds to the pen (which I'll get to in a minute). Edge sensitivity for the pen is awesome. It writes right up to the edge without big problems.

Pen - Last pen was horrible, and this pen is pretty awesome. Two button design is helpful, as one button is eraser and one is select/right click. The top button opens one note even when in sleep mode for quick note taking. Pretty fancy features. Cursor comes up about an inch to an inch and a half above the screen. Tracks the pen pretty well, no lagging when writing. Overall, a huge improvement on the other. NOTE: this runs on bluetooth as well

Type Cover - This is probably the biggest thing that people have problems with, and they're not without reason. The cover is improved from the prior generation, with more comfortable typing, another fold and additional magnets to angle it when on a desk or lap, and a larger mousepad (a plus, but I usually just use the pen). It is not ideal for the lap. Period. This is simply because the joint between the keyboard and the tablet is flexible. That's it. If the joint was like the friction hinge, then it'd work perfect for lap use. Nonetheless, it is manageable in the lap, comfortable enough, but better on a desk. I'll leave it at manageable overall.

Speed - the SSD is a big plus. Because of the thinness of the tablet and battery life needed, the SSD was needed. Runs smooth, start up time is as expected from an SSD. No problems here.

Installed Software - This is nice because almost no 3rd party software is installed, unlike if it was made by Lenovo, HP, Dell, etc. One note comes standard, and is pretty chock full of features. Nice interface and overall, pretty good.

Battery life - I haven't had too much time to play with it, but the 9 hours claimed by Microsoft won't hold up, as manufacturer use times (almost) never do. I played with it all afternoon on 50% and it went down to 20% over a period of about 3 hours or so. Not bad, but I'll bet it will fall just short of 9 hours.

Expandability -Internally, it's so packed that it's not feasible to do it. Period. Externally however, you could just get a usb 3.0 hub and run whatever you want off of that. Also, the mini-SD card slot is helpful as well, as every little bit helps.

Performance - I got the i5, 256gb, 8gb RAM version. It's pretty speedy for the package it comes in (about one of those cheap 70 page spiral notebooks, albeit a little heavier). Good response times, just look up some of the benchmark tests on google and that'll explain it in detail. Overall, it's up to par with a regular laptop.

Overall, this is a step closer in the right direction, but not there by any means. Computers started being sold as unfinished so feedback could make them better. This is no different. Feedback will improve each subsequent generation. I'd suggest a friction lock on the keyboard to prop it up like a regular laptop. Not a bad buy at this point, I'd suggest it.
review history
Durability rating changed from 3 to 4
Updated detailed review
Updated overall rating

Comments (13) subscribe to this review's comments


Hello, I don't think it makes sense that you give a rating of "Poor" on this form factor. In fact because it has the USB and the Mini Display port and the Micro SD card, it should actually get a "Great" rating. You can't ask for this form factor to have anything else. Also Noise you rated good? does not make sense on this tablet factor as well. The device has couple of major issues which are software related, but these are not it.

If it lost 30% of its battery in about 3 hours... then 100% of its battery would be about 10 hours. Get better at math before you build any bridges, engineer.

Stragneland - get better at batteries - the lithium discharge decay curve starts to tank rapidly at about 80% discharge. I'd guess 8 hours before forced hibernation would kick in.

binarygum: She used it starting at 50% battery life, so the decay rate would already be more rapidly discharging by your logic. Would this not mean it had better battery life than you are purporting? Strangeland has decent logic under this constraint.

No it wouldn't. As I mentioned "the lithium discharge decay curve starts to tank rapidly at about 80%" prior to that lithium is very stable.

From the review: "I played with it all afternoon on 50% and it went down to 20% over a period of about 3 hours or so."
If she started at 50% battery how would the decay rate, under your logic, not already be in a state of "tank?" I may not be on the same page as you. Not really trying to argue fiercely...just trying to grasp the statement.

Interesting that you rate it only so so on form factor when you KNEW going in this was the form factor. Will the Surface Pro design EVER be as "lapable" as a laptop? No, of course not, but will the average laptop ever be as "tabletable" as the Surface Pro 3? Again, of course not. Hybrid are a combination of amazing features an usability combined with sacrifices. That's just how it is. All of that being said, the SP3 does a better job of being "one ring to rule them all" than anything else on the market today.

I was an owner of the original Pro, and upgraded to this one. Both I have managed to far exceed the expected battery life given to us from Microsoft. They tell you exactly what they were doing when they attained said battery life, and none of those tasks were heavy strain on the computer. If you know how to adjust your settings correctly and manage what processes are active you can easily have your Pro 3 under moderate load and still exceed the expected battery life. And personally I think its an extremely stylish device considering it is trying to achieve the "best of both worlds" mantra.

mitchep: By tank, I mean the battery power decays at a faster rate.

As an aside, I now own a surface 3 i7 and am getting no where near the advertised 8-9hs. I typically see battery life around 4-6h (microsoft office, web browser, occasional photoshop).

binarybum: According to www.mpoweruk.com­/performance.htm, it's not a rapid decay until about 95% discharge. 9 hours seems like a fair estimate based his experience

Here are the issues you might face in the first few weeks!
First of all, I love Surface Pro 3. However, this review will try to list all of the downsides of Surface Pro 3 I encountered. The reason I’m writing this because I was looking for such reviews before I get it, but little to nobody addressed all of these. You really hit these issues only after you own it. So I decided to write one, and you'll make the decision. I’ll also attach some solutions I came across, read my full review & check for best offer for this tablet at http://bit.ly/1GMsRKH

This discussion has stuck in the back of my mind since I've gotten no where near the battery life others have described, and I am not running anything fancy. After running battery bar pro for 20days now I am ready to call shenanigans on anyone listing 9-10 h battery lives - they must be running at single digit screen brightness running an occasional web search and sending an occasional email. Either that, or I have a bad battery - but it is very consistent and not flaky at all which is not typical with bad batteries in my experience. I wish I could post the graph here, but in summary I have an average full battery runtime of 5:08 with an average remaining time of 3:57 min at 80% discharge.

Well, I have the core i5 model and I can get about 6-7 hours of movie watching on a plane with airplane mode ON, we were able to watch 3 movies. During regular use, I can get about 5-6 hours tops with 60% brightness during day to day use. With full brightness and playing a CPU intensive game like Worms 3, I will be lucky to get 2-3. Make sure all the updates and firmware are installed. But the 9-10 hrs is really not correct for people that actually use it. 5-6 Hrs is a better estimate.