The problem is that the keyboard is flimsy, and it's nowhere as sturdy or comfortable as "real" keyboards. As I type this, I can see the keyboard cover giving a bit under the weight of my fingers; it's enough to make me not want to use it in my lap (though I do it anyway, out of necessity). With every keystroke, I make a loud "clack," letting anyone around me know I'm getting stuff done. The keys are also bunched close together -- the opposite of your standard chiclet layout. That means it's a little too easy to hit the wrong key. Luckily for me, I have a copy editor, so you can't tell how many typos I actually made while writing this review. Suffice to say, it was enough that I eventually started to type more gingerly, in the hopes I wouldn't make quite as many mistakes.
The Surface Pro 3's Type Cover also brings an improved touchpad. And that's good timing, because the latest Windows 8.1 update made the OS much more mouse-and-keyboard friendly. In brief, the trackpad here is bigger, with a built-in touch button you can press down on. It's also said to be more responsive, but I'll be the judge of that, not Microsoft. Even if the trackpad is more precise than it used to be, it's still many steps behind the sort of glass touchpad you'd find on the MacBook Air or many Windows Ultrabooks. It sometimes takes multiple tries to get two-finger scrolling to work. Ditto for clicking and dragging windows and other objects around the screen. Other times, I accidentally navigated backward out of a web page when I was really trying to do some other sort of gesture. If you're serious about having a mouse, especially in desktop mode, you might be better off using a Bluetooth one, especially if you intend the Surface Pro to be your daily driver.
Performance and battery lifeSome content has been removed for formatting reasons, please view the original article for the best reading experience.
Make no mistake: When it comes to performance, the Surface Pro has always been able to go head to head with traditional laptops. Still, it's nice to know that as other Ultrabooks have experienced modest performance gains, Microsoft has kept pace. Armed with a Haswell processor (a 1.9GHz Core i5-4300U chip), 8GB of RAM, a Samsung-made solid-state drive and the usual Intel HD 4400 graphics, the Surface Pro 3 holds its own in synthetic benchmark tests, with scores that fall in line with the competition. It also boots quickly, taking just 10 seconds to get to the lock screen and then one more to load the Start Screen. My WiFi connection was consistently fast too, thanks to the 802.11ac radio inside (there's also Bluetooth 4.0, if you need it).
Accordingly, the Surface Pro 3 can do everything an Ultrabook can do. One of my favorite things about working on a Windows machine is the Snap feature, so I routinely have two programs laid out side by side -- usually Chrome and HipChat. In particular, I often have a dozen tabs open at once, including Gmail, my calendar, Engadget, Facebook, Twitter and the publishing software we use to write stories, not to mention the odd Wikipedia page and music-streaming service. In addition to the usual multitasking, you could also edit photos if you wanted, or maybe even cut together some video.
Throughout, the metal surfaces stayed relatively cool, and I didn't hear much noise coming out of the thin vent that surrounds the perimeter of the device. As with every other Ultrabook, though, the new Surface wheezes a bit during gameplay. Load up a game and the thing gets quite warm -- almost hot -- to the touch. Hot and noisy, too. At one point, the fans started exhaling so loudly that I heard them even in a loft space with various coworkers milling around nearby. If I can hear it over all that ambient noise, well, that's not good. Fortunately, it takes a lot to make the system pipe up like that. And if you do, it could be that you're doing something Ultrabooks weren't actually designed for.Some content has been removed for formatting reasons, please view the original article for the best reading experience.
Microsoft describes the Surface Pro 3's battery life in two ways: You can get up to nine hours of web surfing (WiFi on, auto-brightness turned off), or you can simply expect a 15 to 20 percent increase over previous models. Translation: Your mileage will vary, but battery life will be improved either way. And improved it is. In our video-looping test (also with WiFi on and auto-brightness disabled), the tablet managed seven hours and eight minutes. Compare that with the Surface Pro 2, which couldn't crack six and a half hours.
Now, let's put that seven-hour battery life in context. In short, it's not great, but it's not bad, either. Other ultraportables that are either small in size or super lightweight have tended to last a similar amount of time (see: the Acer Aspire S7-392 or the Sony VAIO Pro 11). Even some larger Ultrabooks, like Lenovo's Yoga 2 Pro and ThinkPad X1 Carbon, deliver less runtime despite having room for bigger batteries. The thing is, of course, there are many Ultrabooks that last much, much longer on a charge. The HP Spectre 13, Sony VAIO Pro 13, Sony Duo 13 and Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus all last around eight and half hours, if not closer to 10. (The MacBook Air can go even longer, though I've never tested the 11-inch model.)
Though the Surface Pro 3 is lacking in battery life compared to larger Ultrabooks, it at least charges quickly. After pushing the battery to its limits, I got back up to 72 percent in around 90 minutes. So, even if you only have a short time to recharge, you should still recover enough juice to last you through a couple hours of work. And by the time that runs out, you probably will have found another outlet.
Update: After continued testing, we started to get even higher benchmark scores for the Surface Pro 3. We've updated the above benchmark table to include those.
Configuration options and the competition