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back to article Is it an iPad? Is it a MacBook Air? No, it's a Surface Pro 3

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3.0 tablet sees its UK release on 28 August. But why is the Surface fondleslab called Surface? Microsoft hijacked the name from one of its own existing products, the niche tabletop display now called PixelSense, but a remark by vice president Panos Panay at the October 2012 launch of the first Surface …

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Re: Just too expensive

I thought it was kinda cheap... I bought an i5 just to hold me over until the i7 comes out.

It was a lot cheaper than an iPad and a laptop. Much lighter too.

I guess some people don't have a real grasp of what money is worth to others

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Re: Just too expensive

The cheapest model with 512Gb storage is £1,649 - add cost of keyboard and its getting into top of the range MacBook Pro territory with much less CPU, RAM, GPU and screen than the Apple competition.

Excellent screen aspect ratio and a neat device IMO but, speaking as a developer, way too expensive to entertain unless your PC requirements are satisfied by a low end model.

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Re: Just too expensive

Not to mention any Windows program will run on the Mac. I'm not sure where Microsoft wants to go with this thing, but my guess is another write-off and stock price crash.

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@Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

I would not disagree with that other than to point out that this device is deliberately aimed squarely at the enterprise sector and is not remotely a private retail "fondle-slab".

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Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

> this device is deliberately aimed squarely at the enterprise sector

in which case it should have a non-glossy, probably 13" screen. You could get away with a couple of Dell 24"+ screens at work, but I think 13" is the minimum for any serious screen time with mouse and keyboard.

The use-case is a work laptop which gives you a freebie tablet when you're at home. Which would be fine except for the price - you want how much for an i3? Anyone with the clout to make that choice will already have a tablet from another vendor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

They've lost consumer market a long time ago. When you talk to joe public about Windows, they talk about crashing, viruses, work, etc. I beleive the main success of tablets is it's not Windows - and I'm a Windows user. That's why the Surface as failed.

So it's a tablet, but you need a keyboard to take full advantage of it. So it's a laptop/netbook, then? In fact, at this price, you could get a decent laptop and a non-windows tablet, and still have change!

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Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

are glossy screens easier to clean than matte ones?

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Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

I know.. no businesses with use MBAs in an enterprise environment. I do know several who use existing Surface and iPads though.

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Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

It's in the same price range as a MacBook Air with equivalent screen size. Plus you get good quality pen, potentially more storage, dual-purposes as a reasonable tablet. It certainly is expensive. But I see MacBook Airs all over the place so clearly it's not too expensive. I think some reviewers *cough cough* are having trouble getting their head around what to compare this to (or even if they should).

Criticising the use case makes little sense to me. It can meet most of the uses of a laptop perfectly well and no-one argues laptops aren't useful. So then the angry demand comes back why not just get a laptop. To which the reply is: this is really convenient, serves as a passable tablet and why not?

I have a laptop. I use it far less than I used to since I bought a Surface RT. Much of my work these days is Office-based work and web-based work and I can do both on the RT. And it's so much lighter that I take it with me on many occasions I wouldn't take a laptop. That's the other reason I don't get this repetitive attack on it for "lack of apps". Apps were a work around for phones that didn't have proper browsers or much power. Modern tablets have both. There are apps for anything I really need and I just use websites for the rest. Unless you want to play games (which this can run actual PC games anyway), I just don't see the complaint.

I often ask what people can't conveniently do due to lack of apps on Windows 8 (even RT). I never get a very convincing reply that isn't only true for a small handful of people.

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Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

@P.Lee we use them here with dual 24" displays on the desktop, in a dock and then just the tablet for meetings and client visits. It works very nicely.

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@H4rm0ny - "It's the same price as a MacBook Air with equivalent screen size"

Except it isn't. The entry level Surface 4 does cost the same as the entry level 13" Air, providing you ignore the fact that you're only getting an i3 and 64GB of SSD, plus the fact you need to spend another £110 for the keyboard. You're spending £110 more for a slower, lower capacity device that is an inferior laptop.

Yes, there are use cases where people want a pen, and others where they want to be able to run full Windows software on a tablet, but this isn't a mass market requirement and it doesn't fair well against dedicated devices.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

You forgot to begin your comment with "Honestly?"

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Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

simple answer is no glossy screens are a balls ache to keep clean compared to a matted screen

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Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

@h4rm0ny

Yet again, you haven't read people's complaints properly and you continue to beat the Microsoft drum.

The MacBook Air is an ultrabook. Price? People (not me!) don't mind paying extra for Apple.. but for Microsoft?? ha!

The Surface "pro" 3 is a tablet, but not quite because it needs the crutches of an "optional" detachable keyboard and a pen!

Sure, you can run your dying desktop applications - but not when in "tablet mode" because they're not even designed for touch! NOTHING IS! [Apart from the scant metro apps - which (in my opinion) look quite nasty even in comparison to my kid's knock-off £45 androids from eBay]. You need to poke at it with your free pen.

So basically, for it to be useful you still need to use it as a laptop... and even then, jesus christ.. just look at that keyboard.. JUST LOOK AT IT!!" Beyond typing "I'll be home in a bit", it's only use is a built-in screen protector.

So you have a mediocre tablet, and a mediocre ultrabook, and all the delights of Windows (a/v, botch tuesday, crapware) rolled into one.

I've wasted my money on a Dell venue, so I know exactly what I'm talking about with desk/laptops squeezed into a slab, and since getting it I've also hardly used my laptop, too... because my Wife is always on it!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: screen cleaning

are glossy screens easier to clean than matte ones?

Depending on what you use(*), cleaning itself takes just about the same effort but keeping it clean is another story. A glossy screen shows anything but gives you very sharp images, a matte screen is optically far more forgiving but introduces a small degree of unsharpness. I personally have matte screen protectors on all my kit because it prevents this OCD habit of wiping it every time you used it (typically on the phone - I am *sure* my ears are clean, yet...).

(*) You can buy screen cleaner, but it's more cost effective (and safer IMHO) to use a 50/50 mix of medicinal alcohol (or "cleaning alcohol" as I found it on a supermarket shelf in Switzerland, which has the blue colour added and is cheap to buy) and demineralised water (so it doesn't leave anything behind after evaporation). Buy a liter of each and you will be set practically for life if you use it in small spray bottle (also good for glasses). Use a microfiber cloth and you're all set. I've been using this for years.

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Re: @H4rm0ny - "It's the same price as a MacBook Air with equivalent screen size"

Yes, there are use cases where people want a pen, and others where they want to be able to run full Windows software on a tablet, but this isn't a mass market requirement and it doesn't fair well against dedicated devices.

True, but although I /personally/ would buy a Macbook for that money, I can see the point for enterprise use. Many enterprises have invested heavily in an MS infrastructure, I reckon this will make it easier for them to engage with tablet computing where that makes sense without having to invest in an entirely different eco system and associated skill set. If you're not set up by default to run a heterogenous environment it is especially in larger companies hard to switch.

So yes, I can see a use for them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

I've also hardly used my laptop, too... because my Wife is always on it!

Interesting capitalisation :). Serves you right for not simply buying her a chair...

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Re: @H4rm0ny - "It's the same price as a MacBook Air with equivalent screen size"

>> "@H4rm0ny - "It's the same price as a MacBook Air with equivalent screen size"

It's interesting that you edited my words in the title above to say something that I never did. I think you perhaps don't understand the principles of quoting.

I never wrote they were the same price. I wrote they're in the same price range. And they are fairly close. People complaining about the Surface Pro 3 being too expensive appear to be willing to give MacBook Airs (which are all over the place) a pass. Does the small percentage price difference between the two account for how one can be hugely popular but the other is far too expensive? Is it the extra couple of tenths of a GHz speed bump you hone in on that makes one cheap enough to be everywhere but the other too expensive?

As to your list, you pick all the negatives and try to write off the positives, and select the lowest specced version in the range to do so, too.

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Re: @Arnaut the less RE"......... but for the mass market it just costs far too much....."

This is the nail, and you've hit it fairly and squarely on the head.

For the cost of a decent Surface you can buy a really good, I mean really good, laptop and an iPad or Android tablet of your choice.

The proliferation of model choice and the ludicrously high price points means this is another queued up, ready to go, failure,

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Coat

ooooh

A surface to (macbook) air missile

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I've been a grudging admirer of the Surface since the first iteration. But I'm really not sure the Surface magic will work on a larger screen size. And then, though I hate to say it again, there's the price. Might be time for a graceful exit MS.

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One inconvenient design flaw...

...is the keyboard.

Yes it's detachable, but the problem is what do you do with it once detached? If i'm out and about with just a Surface Pro 3, no bags or anything else with, and I'm sat on a train or where ever watching a film or using it in some other way that doesnt require the keyboard what am I supposed to do with it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

put it in the bin where it belongs

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Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

From the article - "The cover attaches magnetically and folds up to protect the screen, or back to enable tablet use without detaching it completely."

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Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

put it in the bin where it belongs

and throw the keyboard away, too.

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Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

"From the article - "The cover attaches magnetically and folds up to protect the screen, or back to enable tablet use without detaching it completely.""

Thus preventing use of the tablet, with the kickstand but without the keyboard.

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Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

I fold mine back and use it as a base for stand.

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Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

Interesting, do you not have any problems with buttons being accidentally pushed while doing that?

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Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

Nope Phil, the keyboard can tell the angle relative to the Surface and disables key and trackpad activation when it gets past about 190-200 degrees (0 degrees being closed). So yes, the kickstand can rest on the back of the attached keyboard which is laying face down on the table/whatever if you want to use it that way.

Not that the keyboard doesn't have problems, but that isn't one of them...

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Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

Dare I say, it's got 99 problems, but the pitch ain't one?

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Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

Thanks for the info wdmot, I was not aware of that. Still not all that keen on the design personally but it does seem fairly well thought out. Did the previous Surface models also do this?

P.S. To the downvoters of my previous post.....really? Down voting me for that? It was a genuine question about what would seem to be a problem without the less than obvious information wdmot posted.

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Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

PhillW, yes, all the versions of keyboard disable the keys past a point, fold flat against the back or make for a surface for the stand,

As stated, the keyboards aren't perfect (and for the price they should be close to it!) but they are certainly not a gimmick

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Pen proximity alarm

Why not build an alarm in that vibrate and sounds off (overriding all other sound settings) if the pen moves more than 3 metres away from the device?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pen proximity alarm

Why not build an alarm in that vibrate and sounds off (overriding all other sound settings) if the pen moves more than 3 metres away from the device?

Judging by the looks it's passive (i.e. powered by being in proximity of the Surface) like most Wacom pens, and that means it won't have energy once it's more than about 15cm from the screen.

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Re: Pen proximity alarm

Unlike the pen for the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 the pen for the Surface Pro 3 is powered by a AAAA battery (yes, 4 As).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pen proximity alarm

Ah, good, thanks for the update.

I know of the AAAA format, it's also use in the bluetooth linked Wacom pen for the iPad. Speaking of which, if there is one thing I would enjoy on the Surface it would be the apparent high resolution pen interface - on an iPad, pen nibs are vague approximations because it was originally only meant for fingers, and I thus find drawing on it a pain.

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I think getting pen input right on tablets could make them hugely more functional. I did a lot of proof reading and note taking on my PRS-350 and now my T3 (the e-ink screens help too). Now we just need to wait a few years still Sony get back in the business or tech like this comes down in price.

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Pen input is niche, but isn't everyone niche these days?

I'm *still* using my TC-4200. Excellent pen action and holding solution!

As for the safety of using Win-XP, I just disabled updates and reGhost the machine every now-and-then. It isn't used for web browsing anyway.

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want a pen

just get a sammy note tablet!

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Re: want a pen

The Samsung pen software isn't as good as the Microsoft stuff. Disclaimer, I'm out of date. My last major use of an MS tablet was with Vista and a rotating hinge HP laptop. Mostly it was a dodgy compromise, though at £600 I was very happy with it. But the handwriting recognition and palm rejection was excellent. And I'm sure it's improved or stayed the same since.

Neither recognition, nor palm rejection were as good on the Note II. And Samsung's software was a touch more confusing as well. Not to mention the fact that the Note came with 2 different pieces of Sammie software to do the same job, which they then changed to 3 with an update, but disabled access to the best one from the photo app. I am however a huge fan of the Note II, and Samsung for seemingly being the only people who recognised that a stylus is crap and annoying for navigating round the software, now we've got decent capacatitive screens. But that a stylus is second-to-none for text input on a mobile device. Shame they charge double for their Note tablets, over the normal ones though.

If I could have an iPad with a proper stylus for writing and drawing, I'd be a happy camper. My next tablet may not be Apple because of their irrational hatred of the stylus.

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Anonymous Coward

"Internet Explorer go into a CPU-consuming spin for no apparent reason."

That's not a Surface specific "feature", that's how IE works (or rather doesn't) on my work Windows 7 laptop.

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Re: "Internet Explorer go into a CPU-consuming spin for no apparent reason."

I tried really hard to hold back. I did honest. Its a piece about Surface, after all. I know full well this has been done to death, but there's just no escaping it after this comment. So here we go...

Perhaps this guy, showing off Surface 1, knows why IE causes Surface Pro 3 to act up this way?

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The sad thing for Microsoft is ...

It's not as though there's any exclusive tech involved. When they finally get it right, someone else will copy it, only cheaper.

Still, at least they'll manage to sell some copies of Windows 8 that way

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Re: The sad thing for Microsoft is ...

"When they finally get it right, someone else will copy it, only cheaper."

Um... Wasn't that the original intent?

Microsoft creates showcase tablets to show what Win 8 can do, then the real Manufacturers release tablets to an awe-struck world.

But it seems like MS has been left standing alone in the pitch holding the ball because no one else wants to play with them.

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Re: The sad thing for Microsoft is ...

There is nothing new in the S/P series. Tablet PC have been around since the last decade (Win XP Tablet Edition). They where/are not as common as the touch only tablets due to price (Being done by mainly by Fujitsu/FSC didn't help there either not that IBM/Lenovo convertibles where cheaper). And the availability of cheap SSD helped a lot as well. HDD going bad was the major repair case in the earlier units since they got handled like a college block a lot (and where otherwise very sturdy)

Even today there are quite a few sets with various CPUs etc. in the format with a new one from HP out in September.

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Anonymous Coward

Back to the future

"It is a radical change of direction, but more in tune with what Windows users want: a light, portable device that runs everything that runs on the desktop."

You mean radical as in back from tablet to laptop-ish formats and features (keyboard, trackpad etc)?

Surprise, surprise. Who would have thought that office applications just don't work too well on regular tablets and tiny screens...

Now make the screen a tiny bit bigger, and you're getting somewhere, M$. In the meantime, I'll keep my Lenovo X1 Carbon for pretty much the same price.

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