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 …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. CheesyTheClown

      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

      1. qwarty

        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.

        1. heenow

          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.

  2. Arctic fox
    Windows

    @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".

    1. P. Lee

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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!

        1. briesmith

          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,

      2. graeme leggett

        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?

        1. present_arms

          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

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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.

      3. h4rm0ny

        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.

        1. Steve Todd

          @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.

          1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

            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.

          2. h4rm0ny

            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.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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?"

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          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!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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...

      4. big_D Silver badge

        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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      1. Halfmad Silver badge

        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.

  3. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Coat

    ooooh

    A surface to (macbook) air missile

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. MyffyW Silver badge
    Coat

    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.

  5. Phil W

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

      put it in the bin where it belongs

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

        put it in the bin where it belongs

        and throw the keyboard away, too.

    2. joeW Silver badge

      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."

      1. Phil W

        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.

    3. keith_w

      Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

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

      1. Phil W

        Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

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

        1. wdmot

          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...

          1. mhoneywell

            Re: One inconvenient design flaw...

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

          2. Phil W

            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.

            1. Matt_payne666

              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

  6. MrMcginty

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. keith_w

        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).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

  7. James 51 Silver badge

    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.

    1. Whitter

      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.

    2. you are idiots

      want a pen

      just get a sammy note tablet!

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        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.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Bob Vistakin
      Facepalm

      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?

  9. Frankee Llonnygog

    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

    1. Captain DaFt

      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.

    2. mmeier

      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.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  12. Wingel

    I've been trying to sensibly use a Dell Venue 11 for a few months... and I hate it.

    The whole dpi issue is underestimated, particularly if you try to drive non-metro type apps with a finger.

    Replace a laptop, on the lap at least - never - the weight is in the wrong place so it's not stable.

    And to "consume media" (watch movies on the train) I much prefer my android tablet - switch it on and it just works.

    1. mmeier

      The Venue is actually the "worst of both worlds". Lousy pen, so-so touch. problems with the core-i versions freezing. small variant of the Baytrail (2GB only)...

      DELL made a big error to switch from the Wacom in their well-behaved C-Trail Latitude 10 to the Synaptic in the Venues. Sadly because the basic package of the core i units has nice elements.

  13. Matt_payne666

    Having both a Surface RT and used a surface 2 i5, have to say I'm excited at the 3, the i5 was a lovely machine to use and surprised me, so having that performance and the super high res display will be great...

    Price for the tablet is high, but not bankers considering the build, but the accessories are, if dell can sell a dock for £60 why does the Microsoft one have to cost 3 tomes the amount (with the uncertainty that it will work with any other generation of device) over £100 for the keyboard too, is twice what it needs to be...

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
      Happy

      Price for the tablet is high, but not bankers considering the build

      Is this called a contextual Freudian slip? :)

  14. Ken Darling

    All things to everyone...

    ...Nothing to no-one, if you'll excuse the double negative.

    Just what is the surface? A tablet, a laptop, a netbook? What. I haven't a clue. It seems to me that Microsoft doesn't know, either. They've created the computing equivalent of a Transformer, but without the appeal.

    To quote Slade:

    "See the chameleon

    Lying there in the sun

    All things to everyone

    Run Run Away!"

    1. amanfromarse

      Re: All things to everyone...

      Things you never thought you'd see:

      #1 "To quote Slade:"

      Well done sir! Made me smile.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fed up

    So they've destroyed our Desktop by making it "touch friendly", yet it's still so shite on a tablet they need to make the screen larger?

    They should have been developing a separate OS like everyone else. 5 years ago. Instead we now have a crappy desktop and a crappy tablet.

    I've been paying through the nose for MS software over the years, only for them to waste the money on chasing unicorns and dragging Windows down to the tablet, while letting the stuff that's important to us (and what we've being paying for) to rot.

    They're trying to shoe-horn the OS into a half desktop half tablet, and then moulding a device to fit it. Frankenstein would be proud.

    Fans on a tablet? Keyboard required? wtf?? As much as I love Windows - keep it away from my tablet, purlease!

  16. vordan
    Linux

    The real question is...

    ... will it run Linux?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The real question is...

      I'm sure it will, but why when there are so many things on the market which have a supported Linux or Unix installed out of the box?

    2. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Re: The real question is...

      Will it run Crysis?

      1. bob, mon!
        Trollface

        Re: The real question is...

        Will the market run to it, or away from it?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The real question is...

      ... will it run Linux?

      Ah, how times have moved on. In my days, "will it run Doom?" was far more important :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The real question is...

        What's 'Doom'?

    4. mmeier

      Re: The real question is...

      For certain levels of "run". The basic elements will likely work. The pen will not work (NTrig support is even lousier than Wacom(1)) and I am not sure if touch does (NTrig again, Wacoms seperat touch sensor IIRC works in a alpha version). Miracast support under Linux seems to be about as stable as the 1932 Weimar republics government (and about as simple to understand).

      (1) And even the beta Wacom pen support has no pressure support etc. And no, the external graphic tablet (That has some support) is NOT the same as the penabled technology used in the tablet pc.

  17. David Lawton

    I don't think Microsoft quite get it. They need to maybe watch apples WWDC where they introduce the iPad. They explain where the iPad fits , and it's when you want to kick back on the sofa.

    It was originally designed as a consumer product, but it's nice that enterprise has found a place for it too. As a full blown laptop ain't needed for every case, and since a lot of hardware in business is bought to just do one task day in day out the tablet can move to the business world quite well. Like where PDAs were used for stock control , now I see iPads. It's made quite a splash considering they have only been out 4 years,

    So where exactly does the surface fit in? It's a niche market. Microsoft tried tablets well before the iPad and failed , they just don't get it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think that's the trouble they have. With Windows, you have all the associated hassles of a desktop - updates, nagging, crashes, anti-virus, etc.

      With a tablet, you just want to pick it up, and use it. That just doesn't happen with Windows, no matter how much you think it's "user friendly".

      It's definately a niche - where only the most loyale MS fans would get one of these. Photoshop and full fat Office on a tablet? Sure, it looks impressive for 5 minutes - but you're only going to use 10% of their features in a device that small or on the crowded & rocking train, even if you tried to.

    2. Phil_Evans

      Bang on. It's MSFT caught between the bases here. Where the Surface started as a (rather unwise) pee-ing contest with Apple's iPad, this new Surface shows an army in full retreat. The failure of the app store and the platform generally for Devs just underlines that the (new) Windows consumer (user) is now all but extinct. 'Droid and iOS have seen to that and a windows tablet for my kids would be the equivalent of your Uncle bombing the party.

      Since this is a Cnut-esque device manifesto (all users catered for, one device) it will charm the idealists that follow the Microsoft platform as Winbois. For the people putting their hand in their pocket, it will largely go un-noticed.

      The keyboard-and-tab fudge with a pen just reminds me of those Toshiba Portege slabs that ran Windows Tablet edition so many years ago.

    3. mmeier

      Quite a few companies disagree with "failed". Granted only small ones like HP, IBM/Lenovo, Fujitsu, Panasonic... But the did and do build tablet pc with the same capabilites and technologies the S/P series uses. It is a small market but one that is not served by other companies and operation systems (Android tries with the Note series. 5-10 years behind Win7/Win8). And if you need a tablet pc there is no replacement for it. Neither a tablet nor an ultrabook offer the same capabilities.

  18. ukgnome

    Camera

    "making this a decent device for Skype calls or quick snaps when out and about, if swinging about with a 12-inch screen does not put you off"

    NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

    Tablets should not ever be used for photography, NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER.

    In fact a law should be passed that permits you to smash it out of the wielders hands.

    **Oh and it's too pricey

    1. Boothy

      Re: Camera

      Tell that to all the tourists I see wandering around London/New York etc, holding a iPad above their heads trying to take tourist snaps with it! WHY! Just WHY?! (Usually Asian for some reason?!)

      Even a budget £50 compact digital camera would be easier to use, easier to carry, and take better pics! (and be less costly to replace if dropped or nicked).

      Leave you're iPads in the hotel, PLEASE!

      1. Chris 3

        Re: Camera

        Why? Because they have them with them, that's why - and don't feel the need to carry another piece of equipment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Camera

          Maybe you don't realise it, but it does look a bit silly.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Camera

            >> Because they have them with them

            > it does look a bit silly.

            Another device means carrying it, making sure it's charged, etc. And it won't upload the picture automatically and the SD card is likely to be forgotten in the device when the hols are over and you're back to your busy life.

            I agree taking photos/videos with a tablet looks ridiculous, the results sub-par. But I think it's more likely that the next generation will get/is already used to that than you or I stopping the trend.

            Get over it.

          2. John Bailey

            Re: Camera

            Which is relevant because?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Camera

        I'm half - well, a quarter - thinking of buying a Linhof 5*4 and a tripod, just so I can push in front of these people and, when they complain, point out that I'm taking up less of other people's view than they are.

    2. qwarty

      Re: Camera

      How about banning the 20th century technology stupid looking camera that is the SLR ... such old tech should never be used for photography now image processing lets us work with much smaller lenses.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Camera

        Which is why the manufacturers have gone back to rangefinder format but with electronic viewfinders.

        However, one thing you are quite wrong about. Smaller lenses do have less potential resolution than large ones, owing to the significant wavelength of light. Other things being equal a larger sensor and lens will outperform a smaller one. Under handheld conditions the limits of resolution of the 35mm SLR or rangefinder are set by camera shake, but on a tripod or fixed support the limits are set by not only the number of pixels but also the noise (larger pixels less noise). A full frame digital SLR is simply far more capable than a compact camera, and that is more capable than a phone or, God forbid, tablet camera. The real resolution of a "13Mpx" phone camera may be a lot lower in anything other than sunlight.

        So please, stop taking pictures with that iPad and buy a proper camera. One day, you may be grateful for this advice.

      2. fruitoftheloon
        Thumb Down

        Re: Camera

        Silly me, I must see if my local charity shop is interested in an old canon dslr and an l-series lens...

    3. Havin_it
      Pint

      Re: Camera

      The snobbery is strong with this one...

      Get a couple of these down you and find something worthwhile to grouch over, eh?

  19. RegKees

    I get the idea, but MS just can't convince me with these machines.

    If you really need a keyboard and desktop apps so much that you would consider this, I'd still get a MacBook Air or some other Ultrabook with a really good keyboard instead. And if touch is your main interest, iOS and Android are just too far ahead. Best of both worlds might be nice in theory, but in the practice, it's still too much 'also ran' in both worlds.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it's still too much 'also ran'

      Well yes, but that's really MS. Innovation isn't their thing.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    too expensive

    I'm approaching the moment of decision, what to replace my 5-year old, perfectly capable lenovo laptop (so why replace it?!), so I've been I fleetingly considering surface (2, 3... surface 45, anyone?), but then I look at their funny prices and come back to earth. Shrug, pick something for half price. Yes, heavier, yes, not "hip" (or whatever the current word is), yes, the battery will not last 9 hours, more like 4, but wtf, it's half price and with much, MUCH better specs. And so it goes, surface, surface 2, surface 45.

    And if I wanted something hip, cool, shiny, showy, etc, I'd go for that funny, white thing with that glowing fruit on the cover, whatever the name is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: too expensive

      Yes their prices are just 'funny' aren't they. No logic to them. Is it a reference device? Is it meant to sell in volume? Nobody seems to know least of all Microsoft marketing who advertise like its meant to sell but price it to fail.

  21. ColonelClaw

    The pen issue is what makes the Surface/Win8 a non-starter for me. In my opinion using a pen on a screen just isn't a very pleasant experience for a number of reasons; I'm yet to come across a pen tip that feels 'right' on glass, and it's awkward to not be able to let the remainder of your hand rest on a touchscreen, like it would on a peice of paper, as you constantly end up inputting involuntary clicks and movements.

    The other big issue with an expensive dedicated pen is that they have the habit of getting lost, something that can't be said for my right index finger, which I'm glad to say I'm still using version 1.0 of, since birth.

    1. h4rm0ny

      >>"The pen issue is what makes the Surface/Win8 a non-starter for me. In my opinion using a pen on a screen just isn't a very pleasant experience for a number of reasons; I'm yet to come across a pen tip that feels 'right' on glass, and it's awkward to not be able to let the remainder of your hand rest on a touchscreen, like it would on a peice of paper, as you constantly end up inputting involuntary clicks and movements."

      You don't have to avoid putting your hand on the glass when using the pen! It has palm rejection. I think you must be thinking of capacitive styluses. This is an active digitizer as you would find in a Wacom graphics tablet. Slightly lower degrees of pressure sensitivity (and who's hand distinguishes more than 256 anyway?) but otherwise the same.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re. palm rejection

        Palm rejection? With that price it has customer rejection.

  22. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    What's the market?

    I think MS need to decide what market they are going after with their Surface products. Are they going after the tablet market (in which case, why does it need a keyboard or pen?) Or are they going after the laptop market (Why have a detachable keyboard)? Or somewhere in between (Ultrabook)?

    It feels like MS are throwing different versions out to the market to see what will stick.

    1. mmeier

      Re: What's the market?

      Tablet PC market. See Q704, HP Elitepad 1000G2 and the new 2:1 that comes in september etc. The inductive stylus is the dead giveaway there. Small market but its mainly a business market so the prices are okay.

      And the docking station fits in nicely as well, same for the seemingly smallish SSDs. A business maschine has no problems with a 128GB SSD since storing the lasted blockbuster "found on the net" is not the typical use case. Even 64GB works (around 25GB left after W8, Office:2013 and some other tools are on it) since business will likely use a central storage.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am a consultant and travel a lot for work, I have used a Surface, and I am not impressed at all. The need for a keyboard and mouse for most work tasks just makes it a very expensive laptop. The touch interface is hardly ever used except for non work related stuff. I don't see how anyone can justify the price when it will be used exactly like a laptop 99% of the time.

    Yes there are a minority of people who will use the touch interface, but the vast majority of people sit down at a desk (or on the sofa) and use it exactly like a much cheaper laptop.

    I use an iPad outside work, not because it is lighter, but because the interface is 100% designed for touch and my 4 year old can use it, I definitely can't say the same for a Surface when I see adults struggling to use it. Even with a Surface I still use an iPad outside work.

    All these Surface articles talk about using a single device rather than a laptop/iPad combo, but the fatal flaw in that argument is that in most cases the employer buys the laptop and the employee buys the iPad, I don't see too many employers rushing to spend a fortune on a Surface to save their employee from buying an iPad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      conversely

      I have a Surface and I almost never use the keyboard. I use it as a tablet when sitting on the couch. If I am travelling on holiday I take the keyboard with me and I then have the equivalent of a lightweight, compact, laptop. I love the thing!

    2. keith_w

      The boss here now uses an Surface Pro 3, he has given up both his MacBook air (running W7) and his IPAD. Actually he gave them up when he switched to a Pro 2. People here are actively requesting them. We are an engineering firm, so people in the field are using them in the field, taking pictures and writing notes on the pictures and on the plans with the stylus's (I smiled when I read that post),

      They are not for everyone, but they are definitely have a place in the business environment.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        they definitely have a place in the business environment.

        Exactly; I don't think anybody seriously doubts that they have definite professional usage cases in engineering, medicine and so on. The question is whether this will sell enough of them to keep them abreast of the competition, given the development costs. If Apple thinks there is a market for an iPad with a serious pen digitiser, which is just an incremental improvement for them, it may be game over.

        1. mmeier

          Re: they definitely have a place in the business environment.

          Ask Samsung how easy the "incremental improvement" is. Integrating a Wacom or NTrig is one thing. Getting the support software right is another. Samsung even was so-so on the former (Palm rejection on the N8000 is not as good as on the Ativ500t Windows unit of the same gen and tech) and their handwriting recognition and note taking software are still Win XP Tablet editon level. The ARM CPU does not help there either.

    3. mmeier

      Surface or Surface/Pro? Totally different beasts in usage. The inductive stylus on the S/P will replace a keyboard in all situations where note taking is the prime usage. Say talking with a customer about specs, typical meetings etc. Given the quality and capabilities of the support software for the pen AND the integration into stuff like Sharepont the documents can be shared instantly with all co-workers, stored centrally, indexed, searched etc. And HWR->text is easily done even post-writing. And all works offline.

      Back on the desk the unit is docked and likely used with external monitors like a desktop (not a notebook) complete with variable distance between me and the monitors etc.

      The fact that it is a Windows unit that integrates in most (90+ percent) of the corporate networks and security policies just like a notebook is an additional bonus. And never having to think "will Windows software x work" is nice as well.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Frank N. Stein

    The reason we see a bunch of Macbook Airs in businesses but no Surface Pro 3's is that, Apple products are considered to be premium brands. No one considers a Surface Pro 3 Tablet to be a premium brand. At the management levels that would authorize a business purchase of a $1,000 to $1,200 Surface Pro, the user isn't going to "need to run Windows apps" because the primary apps in use (MS Office/Office 365) are already available and in use on Macs. So the use case for a Surface Pro 3 as a "must have" is pretty week and Microsoft attempting to position the Surface Pro 3 as a MBA alternative, isn't attracting business buyers any more than it's attracting consumers buyers. Besides, re-conditioned MBA's can be had for less than the price of a Surface Pro 3, making the Surface Pro 3 no bargain and less of a "must have".

    1. Julian Taylor Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Except ..

      I would love a really good version of Office on Mac now. I have Mac Office 11 and yes it does the job but it lacks decent sync with iCloud for contacts and calendars ... albeit that is Apple's fault for constantly changing the sync method. I used Surface 2 which I actually quite liked (and that coming from someone who has been using Apple since 1979), unfortunately not enough to buy one as an iPad replacement but more as a lightweight Windows laptop.

  26. Vince

    I own a Surface 2 Pro

    I also own a Lenovo Yoga Pro 2

    The Surface Pro 2 is better for consumption, light work and it's good having full windows and all my actual real world needed apps if I have to do the odd bit of work.

    The Yoga Pro 2 is the device I use whenever I have "work" to do

    The reason? Actually it's because the keyboard is solid, built in and fixed (well that and screen res of the Yoga Pro 2 being insanely high and thus good for me), whereas where I do most of my out and about work I'll be sitting on a sofa or something - and there's just no way to have a surface steady and usable in that way with the keyboard.

    Touch is all well and good, but for most of my purposes anything other than a keyboard would suck.

    If there was a solid (doesn't even have to double as a cover) option for Surface, mine would be used more - I'd basically have a touch screen laptop. Or my Yoga Pro 2....

    Surface does fit in an awkward scenario and the keyboard is both the biggest strength and the biggest weakness.

    1. mmeier

      Different beasts. The Lenovo equivalent to an S/P2 is the Thinkpad Yoga with Wacom digitizer. That adds a lot of capabilities the touch only Yoga lacks. And between those two the question is one of weight. The TPY always weights around 1.7kg, the S/P2 is around 900g if I need a tablet pc only.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surface is Microsoft’s opportunity to show how smoothly Windows can run given Apple-like control of both hardware and software. Experience with earlier models has been disappointing in this respect, with problems like the keyboard becoming unresponsive, or the Wi-Fi driver crashing

    Ah, this may actually be a problem because the convenient excuse of blaming crashes on 3rd party drivers (a standard part of any Windows support script) has thus officially rendered unusable. Oops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > blaming crashes on 3rd party drivers (a standard part of any Windows support script)

      Oh yes I can vouch for that!

      It's like when a teacher tells a parent their child has been naughty "oh no, my little precious wouldn't do something like that, it must have been someone else's fault!"

  28. Mad Dog Mungo

    Commentards Running Amok Without a Clue.

    I find it more than amusing that almost EVERY negative comment is by a commentard who has never EVER tried to use a Surface. The POSITIVE responses are mostly from actual users who have not only seen one in the flesh but have actually TOUCHED it!! They don't seem to have anything nasty to say about them.

    I bought a Surface RT 32Gb when it first came out with a type cover and a bluetooth wedge mouse and a case that just fits the Surface tightly. I also added a 32Gb memory card. I wanted to try one without spending a lot of money and having Office built in was ideal. It was a little awkward to start but, as I used it more I started using it all the time and eventually it completely replaced my desktop Windows 7 machine completely. Apps?? PLEASE tell me what apps I could possibly be missing other than a Web Browser other than IE? I use the RDC to administrate all of my servers, plus my NAS devices and all my documents I create are in the cloud and usable by any other windows machines I happen to use. I don't need them often but that little case holds a non-powered USB hub, Miniport to HDMI adapter and a HDMI cable just in case I want to use a second monitor plus my mouse and power adapter and weighs what, a little over 2 pounds?

    Performance is adequate, not stellar, but still adequate. I've used it connected to a HDTV many times in hotel rooms putting together presentations and it's crystal clear on the display.

    Please tell me where the downside is? The battery lasts for about a day and a half.

    Now that the Surface 3 i7 512Gb model is here I have had such a great experience using the RT model I'm looking forward to purchasing one and using it like I have the RT. Just faster and pretty sure there's nothing it won't run that's Windows based.

    Again, as a a closer, I do find it amusing we have been able to teach dinosaur commentards how to use computers and never stray from windows XP or windows 7 and just incessantly complain about things they have never actually tried. You may go back to your Linux CLI now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Commentards Running Amok Without a Clue.

      I've also had a Surface, I've never commented on here about it so I will now:

      I found it to be lacking, it would have been OK if it was the first tablet ever made. But ~4 years into the game... I expected better. A lot better. I have no problem with Windows, either.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Commentards Running Amok Without a Clue.

      I'd recommend one in forums, hoping it would catch on. I think that's why owners don't bad mouth it.

      But to people I care about? no.

      I show them my pro 2, but there's just something about it that puts people off.

      I got it from work, so I'm just happy with a free toy.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Commentards Running Amok Without a Clue.

      If it wasn't for your closing line you'd almost have a sensible post.

      I HAVE tried a Surface, and it didn't work for me. This may be admittedly because I'm an EX Microsoft user because I found a more usable platform (we migrated our desktop use to OSX), but - and this is the big but(t) that's been hanging in the air - that is for what *I* do with computers, it is no indication of what others need and I think it's incorrect to treat my own use and preferences as if they are the world's default :)

      You simply cannot make a universal statement on suitability because it differs for every single user as they have personal preferences and modus operandi as well as the demands of their work. Some will find a tablet device that just runs Windows (in whatever form to accommodate a touch mode) a Godsend, some will want a keyboard and are happy with that (similar to how many high end business users just use an iPad and a Logitech keyboard to check up on email when they travel), some need horsepower and screen real estate and will hate it.

      The success or fail will be indicated by volume, not by individual use cases. It's FAR too early to see how the device will do. The previous incarnations were IMHO not that brilliant but have already enabled some companies to come up with new ideas, so the new Surface may amplify that. I think there is a market for it, but I must admit I have no view on price elasticity in that market - price is not the only deciding factor.

      I'm going to sit back on this one and just watch it. We may need to buy one anyway to examine customer experience so that we can ensure our helpdesk has some knowledge of it, but given the present volumes I don't think we'll publicly support it just yet, it'll remain a device for level 2 support.

    4. a53

      Re: Commentards Running Amok Without a Clue.

      MS will love you. Keep pushing for them. Someone, somewhere will believe you.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the Surface 4 will have

    An attached Keyboard that closed and protects the screen when traveling.

    The rest of the world calls them, Ultra books.

  30. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    2160 x 1440

    The resolution is nice 2160 x 1440, but a taller same width screen 1920 x 1440 is better for Documents and Internet.

    Stylus, keyboard, touch screen and 256G or more and 4G or more RAM is OK.

    But the price is stupidly high. 8G RAM 512GB storage is £1,649 ex Keyboard. I'd rather have the keyboard, pay £500 and have 250G HDD and 4G RAM. Maybe if I had it I might pay £800 for the right spec and OS.

    I'd want XP or Debian/Mint as the OS. Or a later than Win8.x that is more like NT4.0 but "modern".

    Who is the customer? People with too much money will buy Apple. It can't replace my Kindle DXG, Tablet or Laptop. Not any one of them. Even if it was free.

  31. Jurassic
    Holmes

    The Emperor's New Clothes

    The Surface Pro is really just a tablet… as much as Microsoft wants people to believe different. It’s like the story of The Emperor's New Clothes. The clothes are not there, but people (except for a child) have been convinced that it’s there.

    The reality is that it is a multi-touch tablet, that runs a desktop operating system (Windows 8) instead of running a more appropriate multi-touch tablet operating system. The unfortunate thing for people who buy it is that they assume that all of the software that runs on the Surface Pro will be multi-touch too… just like on the iPad. What they find out is that since the Surface Pro runs Windows 8, which is a desktop operating system, the software applications that they will run on it are not multi-touch tablet apps! They are the same non-touch apps that require a keyboard and trackpad/mouse that they use with their desktop computers. So if they want to actually use the Surface Pro to run their 3rd party desktop apps like Autodesk, Dreamweaver, VideoStudio, QuickBooks, etc., then all of a sudden that $130 floppy keyboard “accessory” becomes a necessity.

    All of the hundreds of thousands of apps that run on the iPad Air are multi-touch, and designed specifically for the iPad… and there is an equivalent (or better in some cases) iPad app for any Windows app that can be run on the Surface Pro.

    So, considering that the Surface Pro is really a thick, heavy, expensive, multi-touch tablet that has very few multi-touch applications to run on it (mostly just the apps that Microsoft supplies with the tablet) there is no comparison between it and the iPad Air.

    And to call the Surface Pro with the floppy keyboard attached to it a “notebook”, would mean that we would need to start calling the iPad Air with an attached keyboard a “notebook” too, for the same reasons!

    The big difference is that there is a much wider choice of much better keyboards, for less money, with the iPad.

    When you think about it, both the MacBook Air and the iPad Air are thin, light, and powerful mobile personal computers. In fact the iPad Air is used by almost all of the Fortune 500 companies… and now with IBM’s partnership with Apple, the iPad’s presence in business will grow even further.

    When one considers the terrible sales of the Surface Pro, and the Billions of dollars that Microsoft has lost trying to sell it, and the incredible success and huge numbers of iPad Airs and MacBook Airs being sold, it really makes it clear that hardly anyone buys into Microsoft’s sales pitch that the Surface Pro is a better tablet than the iPad and a better notebook than the MacBook Air.

  32. Charles Manning

    Dear Microsoft Humour Department

    Most jokes only work once.

    Second time you might still get some laughts from the slow people.

    But three times never works.

    Tell the one about the new Microsoft CEO who goes into a bar and....

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At the right price, I might consider it

    If the S3 can do a couple of road-warrior things well, I might be interested.

    - Can output to external projector displays, say via some sort of mini HDMI

    - Runs outlook and office like the good lord intended. That is, indistinguishably from a laptop.

    - Has enough USB ports for road warriors: being able to charge everything I carry on the road from the surface without needing extra power blocks is a serious +1.

    - Battery life

    - Secure screen cover to stop noisy people on the plane.

    1. Matt_payne666

      Re: At the right price, I might consider it

      At the right price, I might consider it

      If the S3 can do a couple of road-warrior things well, I might be interested.

      - Can output to external projector displays, say via some sort of mini HDMI,

      Yes - maracast for wireless display and mini HDMI

      - Runs outlook and office like the good lord intended. That is, indistinguishably from a laptop.

      Yes - choose the matching version of office that's on your current PC and install it

      - Has enough USB ports for road warriors: being able to charge everything I carry on the road from the surface without needing extra power blocks is a serious +1.

      No - only one full size USB3 port,

      - Battery life

      Apparently is good! And if the RT & pro2 is anything to go by then it should be up there with your current laptop

      - Secure screen cover to stop noisy people on the plane.

      I'm sure someone will make a privacy filter screen protector once the machine is in the wild for a bit

      Looks like most of your boxes are ticked!

  34. VulcanV5

    RIP, Microsoft

    It'll likely be a while yet, but Microsoft's death by a thousand failures is assured. It's good of El Reg to bring this latest 'slab to readers' attention but Microsoft must already be cringeing at the reaction here -- and no wonder: a fold-up keyboard that flexes because it's devoid of support? The heck is Richmond trying to do: out-air an Air in a literal sense? What it definitely isn't trying to do is out-perform an Asus Transformer TF101 from April 2011, which is when our household acquired two -- you know the one, Microsoft? Clamshell design with a screen and keyboard? A superb piece of kit that can be picked up for less than £100 on eBay nowadays? Oh. Sorry. Redmond has never heard of the Asus Transformer Transformer after all.

    Nor is that all. Redmond hasn't heard of something called the Exchange Rate, either. A couple of weeks back, I was in Colorado and twice filled up the tank of my rental before returning to Denver International. Funny thing, that: the gas station didn't say, ah, you're a Brit, you're gonna have to pay a lot more than an American does for this fill-up. But then: the gas station wasn't owned and operated by Microsoft. Which is why it will probably still be in business after Redmond has crumbled to dust.

    These post-recession days,there'll be few if any prospective British purchasers of this Surface 3 prepared to accept Microsoft's ludicrous contention that different prices must apply in different territories. Oh, bollocks. You're not that special, Microsoft. In fact: you're not special at all. You're just another producer with product you need to shift, and you're never, ever going to do that when your audiences can see how blatantly you're discriminating between one and another.

    Thanks then, El Reg, for the heads-up. The advice -- obviously -- is to wait for Microsoft to do its usual stunt with its over-priced Surface offerings and slash the price by half in hope of getting back a customer base it misguidedly thinks it still has yet which it actually lost long, long ago.

  35. Sirius Lee

    When a Brit does a review

    A friend of mine from the US had to hire some from the UK for a job here. The interviews consisted of a string of people telling him what they *couldn't* do. This review seems to follow the same pattern. It starts out with a bunch of comments about an earlier version. What?

    The review mentions some good bits, a useful caveat about DPI and a relevant observation about the USB port limitation. But spends time on irrelevancies. For example, the reviewer couldn't quite get the same battery life. Close but no cigar. Maybe the reviewer was doing different things. For example the reviewer goes on to mention that standby duration is not as long if you have Hyper-V installed. It's a *£&!ing laptop. Why would I expect that if I'm treating the machine like a server it will behave as laptop?

    However the review doesn't mention whether the battery can be removed or whether the device becomes a brick in three year time when the battery can be charged or replaced.

    Yesterday was GCSE day so in honour of the day I'll give this piece a solid C. A pass but a poor one.

    1. mmeier

      Re: When a Brit does a review

      Maintainability is the one big fault of the S/P series. They are glued together so changing any components is not doable by the customer. MS offers a battery replacement service but replacement after extended warranty is stated at 200€.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When a Brit does a review

      "However the review doesn't mention whether the battery can be removed or whether the device becomes a brick in three year time when the battery can be charged or replaced."

      Meh. Worrying about non-replaceable batteries is so 5 years ago. We're using li-poly batteries now and taking care not to overcharge them--they last longer. I have a MacBook Air that's 4 years old and the battery holds 90% of its original charge.

      But then again, the battery on a MacBook Air is very easily replaced, too...

  36. Nym

    Tablets

    I went with AIOs...which means desktops, yes, actually--and they don't mostly run on batteries. Mine don't--but I have two tablets easy to take on trips. Mind you, I don't fly; I have PTSD and I'd kill someone over a conflict on space without doubt, so I'd have to fly first class...and I have a medical marijuana card for good reason, so I can eat; unlikely to be a problem for me. I considered the smaller Acer tablets. I went with the Dell XPS27...I considered the Surface 3 and the smaller Dell tablets. A dearth of programs (less than Win 8 which as noted has somewhat of a paucity of programs and less apps from what I can tell--and less apps than when it started?). I would say MS has gotten off on the wrong foot except for one tiny thing. The balance sheet.

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