Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Under the hood you’ll find an Intel Core i3/i5/i7 CPU, as well as 4GB/8GB of RAM and an SSD with between 64GB and 512GB of storage space, depending on the model you choose. What’s that I hear you say? These laptops sound pretty decent? These pieces of hardware are actually powering the Surface Pro 3, which is predominantly a tablet - a tablet that runs a full installation of Windows 10 Pro.

Today, we’re testing out the Intel Core i5-4300U 1.90 GHz model, which can be Turbo-Boosted up to 2.9GHz. It houses a 128GB SSD and also 4GB of RAM. More than enough for the average user. Sporting a 12-inch ClearType Full HD Display, with a resolution of 2160 x 1440, it certainly offers a huge amount of visual real-estate. Combine this with multi-touch and you’ve got an incredibly powerful display. Some of the other features of the Surface Pro 3 are 5-megapixel, 1080p, HD front- and rear-facing cameras, Dolby Audio-enhanced stereo speakers, a microSD card reader and even a mini DisplayPort.

One of the main benefits of Microsoft using full desktop versions of their OS, on their tablets, is that the Surface Pro 3 could technically replace your laptop. This makes it ideal for users who want to save space, but also take their office with them without lugging around a giant laptop bag. The first things you notice when holding it in your hands, is how amazing the build quality is. It’s casing is constructed from Magnesium and is extremely sturdy. With a built-in kickstand to prop up the tablet, the Surface Pro 3 is fully adaptable depending on the environment you’re in. If you want to watch some Netflix or YouTube, then it can be a tablet. If you’re in the mood to get some presentations finishing, or carry on writing the next best-selling fantasy book, the Surface Pro 3 can be used for all of these by hooking up the detachable keyboard.

I did notice that whilst the kickstand works extremely well in a variety of situations, it didn’t work too well in a few others. The whole device just takes up too much damn space sometimes! If you’re unlucky enough to not get a seat in the tabled section of a train, then you’ll have great difficulty placing the Surface Pro 3 down in “laptop mode”. Not something you expect from such a high-quality “mobile” device. The detachable keyboard can also act as a screen protector by simply folding the keyboard over the screen, much like the Apple iPad smart covers.
Speaking of Apple, with the newly announced Apple iPad Pro it looks like there is now a decent bit of competition for the Surface Pro 3. It’s not possible to say which will perform better at this stage without testing them both side by side, but the Apple iPad Pro looks to be of a fairly high standard. It does run on iOS though - a mobile operating system. This is where the Surface Pro 3 will probably give the iPad Pro a run for its money. The ability to run both mobile and desktop applications is surely better than just being able to run mobile applications?
The overall experience, with regards to the tablet’s performance, was awesome. It’s super quick, and almost doesn’t feel like a tablet at all. It has the ability to run some pretty power-hungry applications. With the inclusion of the Surface Pen, you could even get away with running Adobe Photoshop and create an extremely detailed work of art. If you’re not a fan of Apple, then this could be a graphic designers go-to tablet thanks to the Surface Pen.

The HD display works beautifully with video, and makes for an enjoyable viewing experience. If you’re not a fan of headphones, you won’t be disappointed by the tablet’s stereo speakers either. They certainly pack a punch. Music sounded great when I tested the tablet with Spotify. The camera quality, for both photo and video, is stunning. Despite only sporting 5-megapixel cameras, they work brilliantly. During a Skype call, my partner commented on how good the camera was! Not bad for a tablet.

Normally I’d expect to find a few issues with regards to performance, however I’m happy to report that everything worked as expected. Maybe a little better, actually. Sure, it’s more expensive than an iPad. However you’re purchasing the full-package here, and not just a mobile device. The Surface Pro 3 works just as you’d expect a desktop PC to, but it can also transform in to a tablet by removing the keyboard. The Surface Pro 3 is certainly a mobile powerhouse.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 gets a deserving 4/5.


Matthew Scott

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at CeX

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