final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Speed and features performs flawlessly in most categories. latest firmware update addressed the throttling issue, improved wifi and made power consumption more efficient great!
  • Design and form factor at home it serves as a full desktop. when i go out, i can use it literally anywhere. more comfortable and adjustable on the lap than any laptop. great!
  • Battery life while it doesnt beat the MBA, does it really have to? im getting 7-8.5 hours using OneNote, watching vids, browsing and typing, listening to music great!
  • Display the 3:2 aspect ratio along with high res looks incredible. 12" feels just right. colours are rich and accurate. great!
  • Durability so far so good, but time will tell. my unit feels well built and sturdy. rare few will have loose volume or power buttons out of the box (just exchange it). good
  • Expandability at home i have my sp3 hooked up to a 24" monitor, speakers, mouse, keyboard, and a 256gb SSD. it's a full desktop replacement (but you'll need more for gaming) great!
  • Noise fan kicks up if even with light gaming and 3d rendering. otherwise, you'll rarely hear it at all. good
  • Portability (size / weight) more portable than any ultrabook or hybrid, while more productive than any tablet. it weighs as much as a paper notebook. i hardly feel it in my shoulder bag. great!
Detailed review
the SP3 is incredibly underrated. for the power you get, it's the most portable product out there. it's not "like a PC", it IS a PC with full Windows 8.1 that weighs under 2 lbs. at home, i use it as a full desktop replacement. in class, i no longer carry paper. the stylus is responsive and accurate with no lag while writing my fast cursive. OneNote 2013 is an incredible program for compiling information and writing notes. i actually use it for everything, so i also ditched MS Office.

I use my i5 256gb sp3 to take notes, word processing, photo editing, streaming vids, listening to music, gaming, and browsing the net. for these activities, it has performed flawlessly thus far. in terms of portability and features, it absolutely wrecks any ultrabook or hybrid due to its light weight, decent battery life, and of course stylus + touchscreen. the keyboard and trackpad are very responsive and comfortable, and feel sturdy to me (you may hear otherwise in the official reviews). the sp3 is fully functional (even productive) as a tablet + stylus combo, without the keyboard attachment. unless youre a hardcore gamer, you'll be able to use it as a full desktop replacement at home as well. i havent missed mine.

the one major downside of its portability and thin form is heat management. even a modest amount of strain on the integrated graphics unit (i.e. gaming, 3d rendering, video editing) will generate a lot of heat, kicking the fan up and eventually throttling the processor. unless im gaming, i never hear the fan, but it's something to be aware of. tablets and ultrabooks this thin and light do not ventilate well. sp3 is no exception.

some people have had problems relating to wonky wifi speeds. personally, i havent had any issues whatsoever. download speeds are as i remember them on my desktop PC, and i have my bluetooth speaker (UE Boom) connected all day. wifi strength is 5 bars and in the 16 days of nonstop use, ive yet to drop my connection or have any issues streaming vids.

Further improvements: the latest firmware patch addressed WiFi and throttling issues. Power consumption is now more efficient but I haven't tested the new battery life yet. Many are reporting much improved (normal) WiFi speeds, and I can now comfortably run some newer games like dota2, age of wonders 3 and xcom on low/med for 3+ hours at 30-40fps without any problems. While the back of the surface still gets hot, i havent noticed any performance drops while gaming. i couldnt be any happier with my sp3 after the firmware update.
review history
Updated detailed review
Edited comment on Speed and features
Speed and features rating changed from 4 to 5
Updated detailed review
Edited comment on Speed and features
Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review