back to article Microsoft's Surface 3 is sweet – but I wouldn't tickle my nads with it

There’s a commuter who gets off the train where I live who has a tablet down his trousers. Call it the middle-class version of builder’s crack or the male equivalent of the inappropriate G-string, it peeks out over the top of his chinos. Microsoft Surface 3 Windows 8.1 tablet Intel inside: Microsoft's Surface 3 Windows 8.1 …

  1. Arctic fox

    An approach to doing business that..........

    " Microsoft wants to tie all your contacts, media and documents into its cloud through the Surface end point."

    .........neither Mountain View or Cupertino are interested in of course or have any analogues of. Er, hang on a minute....

    1. mmeier

      Re: An approach to doing business that..........

      Actually MS would LIKE if you do that. But no one is forcing you to USE the bundled subscription.

      The beauty of the Surface/3 is that it is just another Win/x86 system. So if you want local Exchange, Sharepoint etc - just use a standard office installation and be done. If you prefer Notes/Domino/OpenOffice - use that instead.

      No walled garden, no app-store only software installations. If it runs on Win7 or better - it will run on the Surface/3 (1)

      (1) Within the limits of 4GB and an ATOM.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: An approach to doing business that..........

        It's a pity KDEs' Plasma active seems to have fallen by the wayside, that did look good.

        1. mmeier

          Re: An approach to doing business that..........

          The problem with Linux is the lack of (good quality) drivers for WACOM/NTRIG pens and, even more important, the software equivalents to Journal/OneNote and the Handwriting Recognition that Windows has since the days of XP Tablet Edition. Without them the Surface/x86 family runs on half an engine since the very exact pen IS a key component to use desktop software on a tablet pc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An approach to doing business that..........

      "The reason for Surface has never been 100 per cent clear"

      Profit of course. Microsoft are already selling well over $1 billion a quarter of Surface products and it's growing rapidly...

  2. knarf

    Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

    It won't sit on your lap as it will fall over so its not a laptop as using the keyboard requires a desk, its windows and the "Metro" apps are next to useless.

    Buy a nice a ultrabook, more practical and usable.

    1. Steve Crook

      Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

      I can't work out if the concept is flawed or the implementation. After all, it looks like a neat idea. It's one where I see the adverts, and think yes, possibly. Then I read the reviews and mmmm, possibly not. Then I look at the price and think, nope, not a chance.

    2. Fuzz

      Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

      I have a surface pro 2 at work and it does sit on your lap. It's a bit weird because the kick stand means you need space behind the screen on your legs to make it stand.

      Personally I'd still rather have a nice light laptop.The new surface 3 is just too expensive and has too may compromises to make it really useful. The whole surface range has always suffered the same issues. They're too bulky, lacking in apps to beat a decent tablet and they're not as good as a decent laptop at being a laptop.

      1. malfeasance

        Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

        I have a surface 3 pro; and while I don't love it, it is a tool I use most days (I'm a dev by trade). I probably could have bought a surface 3 given my use-case.

        1) It's lighter than my laptop (so going to visit customers is generally easier).

        2) It is a duplicate of my laptop when it comes to source code / git / mercurial etc. My whole build environment is available.

        3) It works adequately on my lap (in front of the TV style; if I need to do work, then yes, I'm the type that goes and sits at a desk). The type cover is pretty good to type on.

        4) Wireless Display Adapter (though this isn't necessarily limited to having to use a Surface) for presentations...

        5) The pen is excellent for taking notes, and (if you have trained it) then converting handwriting into text.

        6) "Signing PDF NDA" without having to print the damn thing (yeah, this is a marginal use case).

        7) While not exactly cheap; it's comparable to the price of a decent ultrabook (I spec'd out a 8gb/256SSD at the time)

        The furore over the Win7 interface vs Windows 8 does bemuse me; The difference between the interface has never bothered me; I find the start menu navigate to "programs" the slowest way to start a program; I've used launchy since ~2011 so I just use that, I haven't touched a start button since then. Metro has it's uses as well; though I tend to end up on the desktop because cygwin / putty.

        1. tony72

          Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

          "The furore over the Win7 interface vs Windows 8 does bemuse me; The difference between the interface has never bothered me; I find the start menu navigate to "programs" the slowest way to start a program; I've used launchy since ~2011 so I just use that, I haven't touched a start button since then."

          No it doesn't bemuse you, unless possibly you have absolutely no contact whatsoever with non-technical Windows users. Maybe you say things like that just to sound superior, or maybe you really are happily isolated from the non-technical reality, you tell me. I'm happily using 8.1, you're happily using 8.1, but we are technical. My mother had to phone me up the other day because she'd double-clicked a PDF on her new 8.1 ultrabook, which opened in the default Metro reader, and she couldn't figure out how to close it. No visible close gadget in the top-right, and no file menu, the two methods by which regular Windows users have learned to close applications since forever. The furore is because ordinary users are having to re-learn how to do basic things like that, to no great benefit to anyone.

          1. dogged

            Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

            8.1 has the classic "X" closure in the top right-hand corner.

            Forgive me if I doubt your wonderful story.

            1. tony72

              Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

              You have to move the mouse up to the top and wait before the bar with the close gadget appears. If you don't know it's there, you aren't going to do that. This is exactly the problem with all the swipe-in-from-here, hover-the-mouse-here stuff. I guess you're also in the camp that doesn't have any contact with non-techical users.

              1. mmeier

                Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

                When my dad got a new box for his 75s birthday I spend 30min max setting it up. That includes the "standard file associations". And BINGO - no Modern UI apps appear.

                Metro was only involved in the sale of the box, we got it from Mediamarkt, that belongs to Metro.

    3. Dave Fox

      Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

      Load of sloblock.

      Written from my Surface Pro 3, whilst it is perched on my lap.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

        I must admit, though, it's a little precarious. And due to the requirement of the back support (this goes on your knee cap), you find the keyboard is up against your body, especially if you have short legs or a love for food. Very awkward to type like that.

        And as soon as you need to adjust your posture a little - it's a struggle holding the tablet screen and adjusting the back support while getting my keyboard just right.. whoops, there goes my brew.. ah fuck it, I'm back in the same position.

        With a laptop/ultrabook, you just pick it up with one hand and get into a comfy position, without even thinking... and you can balance it on one leg, the arm of any chair, or even hold it in your hand and still type.

      2. Green Nigel 42

        Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

        "Oooh Sloblock" said Ben

        "If you love me you'd ......... " said Bill (cleaning his Surface!)

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

      My Surface works fine as a laptop on my lap... It doesn't fall over.

    5. Blitterbug

      Re: Buy a nice a ultrabook, more practical and usable

      It is a nice Ultrabook. Well, the Surface Pro is, and your rant seems aimed at all Surfaces, so I call BS on this particular comment. Plus, I use mine on my lap quite happily & its only a gen 1 Pro and therefore only has one stand position. So sorry, I call uninformed FUD on this entire post.

    6. Mentalfloss-1966

      Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

      I agree. Watching someone use a MS Surface on a train is hilarious. Someone with an Acer 2in1 with a hinged keyboard, totally doable. WTF was Microsoft thinking? Instant fail IMO.

      1. mmeier

        Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

        Asuming one of the x86 Surfaces - he/she is using it wrong. The unit comes with a beautiful pen and very capabel handwriting recognition. Anything resonably doable on a train can easily be done using the x86 units without a keyboard.

        When I go to have my eyes checked (getting a medication that blurs the vision for a while) I even use the voice synthesizer / voice recognition build into Windows to "read" emails over a BT headset.

    7. Selden

      Re: Why Why I always asked myself for Surface

      There's a reason the word "laptop" is not used for the Surface devices. I was a backer for the Remix Kickstarter project, a device that is physically very similar (one could say "knockoff") running Android. I'm fine with this form factor as a big tablet (excellent for watching movies), and even for use on a table, but it's extremely awkward in the lap. The kickstand sorta kinda works, but it's still not a laptop. For the past 5 years, most of my computer use is in a chair, occasionally in bed, where the traditional clamshell laptop form factor works better.

  3. werdsmith Silver badge

    Surface pro suits my requirements just fine, doubling up as a laptop.

    It does, however, have one problem stopping me from buying one - the price.

    Which is why I use a Linx 10, which surprised me by handling everything I asked of it.

    1. Irongut

      I bought a Linx 8 in January and haven't used my Android tablets since. Its lighter, faster and I can actually get some work done on it. All for a fraction of the price.

    2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      I have to agree - if you compare a Linx 10 to a Surface 3, then the price tag has it, unless you really need the hardware extras (digitizer, posh keyboard) and brand name. I have a Linx 8 (I was replacing a Droid tablet with something more interesting and useful) and I've been impressed. It was under £80 - so a fraction of the cost of an iPad Mini and frankly leaves it in the shade.

      On the other hand, comparing a Linx 10 to a Surface Pro is another matter. The Surface Pro is the next tier up as it has considerably more horsepower. If the Surface is an iPad alternative, then Surface Pro is more or less aimed at MacBook Air territory, though obviously, the keyboard extra might make it a bit more expensive.

      1. mmeier

        I have the comparison between a Lenovo TPT10 and a Note 10.1. The poor lil Penguin fell on his back, made a strange sound and died in shame. Even with the same digitiser (both have a Wacom) the upper class Android can not compete with a Baytrail Atom. And the iPad won't do any better.

        Even if I leave the pen out of the equation, something that no one who used it for a while will do, the system is a lot faster when handling stuff like complex PDFs, can easily handle multiple documents with fast switching and uses the same software as the main box.

        The Pro series is another step upward and may or may not be what one needs. I do not use a private notebook (Company "notebook" is a Fujitsu T902, that does not count) but found that I use my tablet pc most often as a "electronic legal pad" (with OneNote etc). and for such uses a Surface/3 is "good enough" with the benefits of "less openings in the hull" and "USB charging"

  4. Wheaty73
    Thumb Up


    The original surface (RT) works on your lap fine with the KB, even without the 'rigid' cover. But really, why would you want to? for casual work / browsing remove the keyboard. For longer periods of actual work - use the bloody table.

    Also #corrections - you don't need to go to the desktop to set up a wireless connection. Its all done in Metro.

    I have an RT and will probably get one of these should it break. Wonder if it will run Civ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Laptop?

      Just remove the keyboard altogether when using the surface on your lap. Easy.

    2. Midnight

      Re: Laptop?

      Civ runs smoothly on a Bay Trail Atom, as long as you don't stress the 3D graphics too much. Leave it at the default settings and it will crawl sadly along until you give up waiting. Switch to strategic view and disable the talking heads and it will fly.

      (Now you know.)

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Talic

    Connecting to wifi

    Is this your first time with windows 8? You don't need to open control panel or network and sharing centre to connect to wifi.. Just use the right charm and click networks. Wifi networks will be listed right there

    1. Naselus

      Re: Connecting to wifi

      "Is this your first time with windows 8?"

      Gavin's articles often make me question whether he's a tech journalist, or just a regular journo who occasionally writes for El Reg. His reviews rarely cover any technical aspects and instead obsess over weight and appearance - just as in this review we're treated to one line of tech specs and two pages of drivel about how the slablet looks 'chunky' or 'soviet' (along with a completely irrelevant half-page about some commuter's trousers). The information in this is is the kind of thing I would expect to find in the free papers they give out on buses rather than in a dedicated tech publication.

      No mention of battery life; no details on the wifi specs (seriously, is it ac capable? this would be worth mentioning either way); no details about the RAM or SSD aside from pure capacity. There's more waffle about the fuzzy felt on the type cover than useful details about the actual computer it's attached to, and nearly a third of the article is dedicated to an increasingly inaccurate review of Windows 8.1 (which may be considered a bit late, since Win 8.1 was released just under 2 years ago). Reading through, I get the feeling that yes, this IS his first time using Win 8.1.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Connecting to wifi

        Hmm, in the spirit of El Reg if I want a review then I would head over to something like TechRadar. I come to El Reg for the comedy and I fully expect the author to rip the piss out of whatever the subject of the article is.

        1. dogged

          Re: Connecting to wifi

          > I come to El Reg for the comedy and I fully expect the author to rip the piss out of whatever the subject of the article is.

          I agree. However it would be nice if the author listed genuine shortcomings rather than making some up. Still, I guess if you read a Gavin Clarke review of a Microsoft product, you're asking for everything you get. It's like an Ed Miliband review of bacon sandwiches.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Connecting to wifi

            >I come to El Reg for the comedy and I fully expect the author to rip the piss out of whatever the subject of the article is.

            The Reg doesn't do that in *reviews*. Yeah, in all other articles the Reg will take the piss out of [Company], but its reviews of actual products are honest enough.

  7. jason 7

    RT was essential.

    It annoyed Intel to see MS with ARM...on a date together. So it ended up making the chips that MS wanted in the first place.

    That RT cash write off was probably cheaper/quicker than negotiating with Intel.

    So now we have a Surface that gets good reviews rather than mixed.

    Oh and -

    " but otherwise it’s an effort to carry"

    Can we please see a pic of all tech reviewers who state that a mobile device is too heavy? I need to know if it's a human being writing this or a marmoset?


    1. PleebSmash

      Re: RT was essential.

      $900 million to "get" Intel to do what it has done for several generations, make chips that use less power.


      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: RT was essential.


        Intel have indeed been very good at burning less power than AMD's efforts (and delivering more performance).

        They've been rather less successful against ARM unless you believe Intels own propaganda and it's ARM they were fighting for Microsofts business.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: RT was essential.

      Surely the purpose of RT was and is to be a cheaper "Windows" tablet that runs only the new "Windows Store" software where Microsoft gets 33 per cent of your software spending (and Microsoft Office). So you pay less first but more later when you install stuff. And old software doesn't run. And, yeah, people didn't fall for that - not yet, but Microsoft will try again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RT was essential.

        So you pay less first but more later when you install stuff. And old software doesn't run.

        Hasn't this always been the case?

      2. Phil Kingston Silver badge

        Re: RT was essential.

        One of the main benefits was all day battery life.

        But people kept peddling the "it doesn't run x" line, so it never caught on. Anyone with the nous to actually try the thing found it wasn't an issue. But hey, everyone just believes what a few tech "journalists" say.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: RT was essential.

      >Can we please see a pic of all tech reviewers who state that a mobile device is too heavy? Feeble!

      Twat. I'm sure jason 7 will never age and become infirm.

      1. jason 7

        Re: RT was essential.

        Oh c'mon man something with that much functionality and weighing so little is classed as heavy?

        Really? I remember just a few years ago I had laptops with power supplies that weighed more than that.

        It's like reviewers that say "The phone weighs in at a 'hefty' 160 grams!" Really? That hefty to you?

        Sometimes devices have to have some mass or they bend or need charging every 11 hours. Either most tech reviewers are really weak or they must be no older than 16.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £419 (64GB, 2GB RAM), £499 (128GB, 4GB RAM) RRP

    no need to stretch my eyes and mind (or whatever is left of it) to go into details. No table is worth this price. Next!

    1. returnmyjedi

      Re: £419 (64GB, 2GB RAM), £499 (128GB, 4GB RAM) RRP

      "No table is worth this price"

      Depends on how many you can sit round it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £419 (64GB, 2GB RAM), £499 (128GB, 4GB RAM) RRP

        oh, yes, I do remember that MS ad from 2 or 3 years back. Tablet for (family) table.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: £419 (64GB, 2GB RAM), £499 (128GB, 4GB RAM) RRP

      While a £600 phone (or worse, a smartwatch) is worth the price?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £419 (64GB, 2GB RAM), £499 (128GB, 4GB RAM) RRP

        "While a £600 phone (or worse, a smartwatch) is worth the price?"

        Certainly not. In fact, I'd say 100 - 150 quid is tops I'd ever pay for a mobile.

      2. John Bailey

        Re: £419 (64GB, 2GB RAM), £499 (128GB, 4GB RAM) RRP

        "While a £600 phone (or worse, a smartwatch) is worth the price?"

        No sweetie.

        Like many, you are unable to distinguish between worth and price.

        Price is what the seller attaches to their goods. How much money they hope to get.

        This has little or nothing to do with the cost to make the thing. And everything to do with the herds of fools who buy a thing based on brand status alone.

        Value is what we, the buyers, attach to the goods. What we are willing to part with, to get the attributes promised.

        If value is lower than price, a smart person rejects the goods.

        If value is higher than price, the buyer accepts the goods.

        An iPhone is not worth £600 to many many people, so they do not buy one.

        An iWatch is not worth the £300+ it is being sold for, to many many many more. So they do not buy.

        And a Surface 3 is not worth nearly £500 to a great many people, so they will laugh at the idea of spending that much on a crippled laptop,and an inadequate tablet. .

        Worth is personal. It is the value we place on the stuff we acquire.

        Paying £5 for a solder sucker is worth it if you have a few easy solder joints to remove now and then. And if it does the job.. great. Money well spent.

        Paying £70 was worth it to me, to be able to remove more difficult parts safely and without damage. So I got a de-soldering gun. Now multi lead components just fall out. Stripped a whole board of LEDs from an old project in under 5 minutes on Saturday, without damaging the LEDs. Brilliant tool. WORTH every penny to me. Overkill to many, inadequate to many others.

        Paying £300+ to do the same job, but faster is worth it to someone who is more time constrained, or not paying for their own tools. And that is fine too. But it is not worth that to me. Time is not important, and I am unlikely to be working on multi layer boards with big copper pours. So my cheap gun is fine.

        All these tools do essentially the same thing. But to differing degrees, and with differing competence. Which is chosen depends on it's value to the buyer. Not a take it or leave it price.

        Once you understand this concept, you will hopefully stop asking such damn fool questions.

        1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

          Re: £419 (64GB, 2GB RAM), £499 (128GB, 4GB RAM) RRP

          Perfectly lovelyI explanation. Who makes the £70 model?

  9. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    How does it compare

    Against the new MacBook?

    Ok so the new MB doesn't have touch, but I suspect that they are both aimed at much the same market, albeit the Apple one at a much higher spending demographic ;)

    1. Vimes

      Re: How does it compare

      You mean the one with only one port, forcing people to buy yet another adapter for functionality that should have been there from the start?

    2. Otto is a bear.

      Re: How does it compare

      Why would you compare it to the Mac Book, iPad, yeah, but a laptop? I have a touch Laptop, and, I have to say I still use the mouse and keyboard, to the extent that I'm wondering why I bothered with touch at all.

      I'd also wonder, if you already have a slate, Android or iPad, why you would even bother looking at a Surface, let alone buy one. As a business user, I use an MS Laptop, and less so a Note, as I've found my notebook (paper) far more versatile in meetings than anything electronic. There still isn't a killer app for any slab. I need to run project and visio, and using the cloud is not an option, I'll stay with my lightweight laptop. BTW. With the legal status of MS and any other US cloud provider still in the air, why would you put data on their clouds?

      At home, I'll stick to my Air as well.

      1. mmeier

        Re: How does it compare

        This is a tad more than a "touch only" system. The pen and the software behind it is the key to the system.

        And the "killer app" for this type of unit has been around for quite some time:


        It is the "can use the cloud" notepad app. You do not want cloud - it does not need the cloud. Use a local (company run) Sharepoint instead.

        As a long time sufferer of the Note (N7100(1) and Note 10.1(2)) I can tell you that they are nowhere near the capabilities of an Atom powered Windows system. Even MS Journal (included in the OS since at least Vista) beats SNote hands down and challenges Evernote. Same for the Handwriting-Recognition and the rest of the pen support, lightyears ahead of the Samsung stuff.

        (1) I do not use touch only phones so sadly a Note is currently a "must use"

        (2) Tried it as a replacement for a Win7 tablet pc for 6 month. Gladly went back to the x86 unit despite bigger weight/less endurance. Heck, I'd rather lug my company T902 around rather than the Note 10.1

  10. Vimes

    And the battery life? How did it perform? And the overheating that seems to plague the larger Surface Pro 3? Does this have the same issue?

    And the weight? (no idea about this one, but with the SP3 the weight made it uncomfortable to use as a tablet for any real length of time)

    I have yet to try a surface 3, but if the surface pro 3 is anything to go by I found myself making more typos using the keyboard cover than with a 'proper' keyboard. I would imagine that the same would happen here (no mention either that an SP3 keyboard cover can be used here, albeit it with the size difference making it awkward to use as a cover, nor of the pen not coming as standard as with the SP3 - so that's ~£50 more if you want that too). Incidentally one other quirk I found with the SP3 and I imagine exists with the S3 too is that the F keys often relate to windows shortcuts rather than the functionality they're supposed to represent. Just try pressing F5 when in a browser for an example of this. It would be nice to have F keys that actually work as F keys.

    As for style, the covering on my SP3 is unscratched after 6 months. I couldn't say the same of my ipad mini 3 within a few days, or my ipad 4. The metal covering on those looks gorgeous, but is far too easy to damage.

    With regards to web browsing, the TIFKAM version of IE might be more finger friendly, but just try docking it to one side and opening another window to dock on the other. It can't be done. At least with the desktop variant you can have more than one window open (another niggle with TIFKAM in my opinion is the way the desktop fills the entire window when you've docked a window to one side and tap the empty area to open something to fill it - this interrupts what's going in within the frame that's already docked, so why not just fill up the empty area?)

    Unless things have changed in the surface 3 then are you sure about establishing wifi connections? I set mine up on the SP3 using the charm bar on the right. One such explanation was found here:

    1. cambsukguy

      > With regards to web browsing, the TIFKAM version of IE might be more finger friendly, but just try docking it to one side and opening another window to dock on the other. It can't be done.

      I just did this on my Surface - it is a trivial operation. Having two windows on a Surface doesn't involve trying to reduce the size of one and 'revealing' another, it is done by 'dropping' the window you want in the location you want (left or right) - the same way as dropping any other app.

      If you want two IE pages displayed but you only have one IE running (which is what I assume you mean), this is done in any of several ways:

      1. If you have a link you want open in a new side-by-side windows, then hold the link and select 'Open in new window' from the slide-up menu that appears, which automatically splits the screen if required or replaces any running app in a split screen.

      2. If you already have a tab with the page required (and a tab with the other page required), then hold the tab in the tabs display area and select 'Open tab in new window'.

      3. If you want a copy of the same page split for two views perhaps, do the above step after selecting 'Duplicate tab' in the tabs area.

      4. If you know you want a new window without browsing first. Tap the '+' and open a new tab and hold/select the 'Open tab in new window' as before.

      There may be other ways but this seems like more than enough.

      1. Vimes

        That'll teach me to make those sorts of comments then. That seems to work. You learn something every day.

        Although it does strike me as being a little counter-intuitive.

        The new tab icon IMO relates to tabs within the same window, and there is no reason offhand why people would be looking there if their intention is to create a separate window. If I have the list of apps open to select an app for the other area of the desktop, then why go back to the same copy of IE already open rather than open a separate IE window when the IE icon is tapped a second time?

  11. Mage Silver badge

    Tablet or Netbook?

    Perhaps it's a Touch Screen Netbook with a poor keyboard and not really a Tablet at all. Except for Business use, a new Classic Edition Windows based on XP, properly updated for Touch (not anything like XP Tablet Edition) rather than schizophrenic Win 8.

    If I wanted Linux something else is a better idea for the money.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Tablet or Netbook?

      Win7 has full pen support build in. Not sure if it runs on a Surface/x86 unit but that would give the (IMHO irrational) Win8 haters their XP feeling

  12. cambsukguy

    Some small points

    1. I find the design more attractive, pretty is subjective, Surface isn't pretty to me, it is more like gorgeous in finish and robust in appearance. The actual finish is tough as nails. The toughness against drops is also impressive from the one test I accidentally performed.

    2. The keyboard cover is easy to clean - I use a standard kitchen cleaner, spray it on and rub it. This is the 'cardboard' standard keyboard of course. It comes up lovely. The Type cover is vastly superior for those that can type (and those that need to type for a longer period) but the touch cover is slimmer, and provides excellent protection - iPads look repulsive in cases (especially after a while) and are bulkier overall.

    And, for the record, I use mine on my lap regularly but not for long periods. The original Surface RT was less good in this respect but the extra position of kickstand the second version (and another for the Surface 3) means this is not a problem. I have seen an used an iPad with a case purporting to be a stand, floppy, useless and costs money. The stand on the Surface is rigid, useful and comes with the unit.

  13. LDS Silver badge

    It looks the author didn't understand the tablet market has segmented

    There's no more 'the tablet' there are different tablets models covering different segments, from landfill Android and Windows model you can carry in your trousers, to high end models like the iPad and laptop replacements like the Surface. What you need and what you buy depends on what you plan to do with the device, and what you could spend. No size fits all, and well, my Surface stores too precious data to risk to crack it while travelling, it's not just an MP3 player for me. All you need is just a nice light bag to carry it around.

    After all, I do not carry around my €6000 DSLR + lens combo as I carry around my €199 phone...

  14. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Pros and cons

    I have one of these at work for 'evaluation' and we are beginning to deploy some of these. So to make this brief:


    -Seems pretty rugged

    -Beautiful screen

    -Good performance

    -Responsive touchscreen

    -Good battery life

    -Very well designed magnetic mating for cover/keyboard


    -The damn thing is glued together so good luck if you need to pull or upgrade the drive. Memory is soldered in.

    -windows 8.1's schizophrenic UI

    -Only one USB port on the unit?? And one that seems to only let you charge on the adapter. Deal breaker for IT use.

    -Pizza-box keyboard and touchpad

    -Some folks may have had luck using this on their lap, but I find it too wobbly and annoying.

    I realize it's meant for light and casual use, but it won't be replacing my laptop anytime soon.

  15. jbluk

    We've been giving one a go at work

    We've been trying one in work. Strangely we've been able to get a 4gb ram 64gb disk model that drops the price point a bit.

    - A few points we've noticed. The processor is really quite good, we've not been able to stretch it with normal office stuff and even some data analytics. I see no reason for a Pro in that regard.

    - I dislike windows 8.1. Not because of the whole tiles thingy (we just deleted most of them). My main gripe is the whole text resizing dpi nonsense. The laptop use case needs a different 'zoom' than the docking station use case - fair enough. But having to logout and login to change it properly is just daft. Almost show stopper daft in terms of rollout.

    - I find myself using it as a laptop and rarely as a tablet. It does however make a pretty cheap light weight laptop.

    - The docking station is very good, but things like the vga adapter make apple stuff seem cheap. £30!

    1. mmeier

      Re: We've been giving one a go at work

      Sure that you have a Surface/3 and not a Surface/PRO 3? The S/P has a 4/64/core i3 version that fits a lot better to your description

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: We've been giving one a go at work

      You can get any display port to vga adapter, you're not forced to buy the 'ms branded' one.

  16. Neil B

    For anyone interested...

    I got mine at release and have been using it heavily for the last week.

    Battery life is good - 8-10 hours depending on how often I play Hearthstone.

    With the keyboard down, ease of use is excellent. I don't really understand why people can't seem to use the SP3 on their laps. The S3 is comfortable in every situation: on a table, on my lap in front of the telly, in bed resting against my knees, whatever. The three-position stand covers every eventuality. Very impressed, and I was concerned about this based on some previews I'd read.

    As a tab it's heavier than the iPad, but I don't really trust myself to compare ease of use because I really don't like iOS at all. However, based on my experience, it works okay in tablet mode, and everything about the touch surface is excellent. The OSK is good, and Win8.1 in touch mode is excellent (lack of apps notwithstanding etc. etc.). For me, though, when it comes to tablets, anything bigger than, say, the Nexus 7 is not worth buying for the tablet experience alone. The beauty of S3 is that you get a good tablet and an excellent laptop.

    And as a laptop it is excellent. Again, I was worried about the type cover but the keyboard, while small (which takes some getting used to), feels good under-finger and with the back-light looks terrific. The trackpad, which again has received some criticism, is small but otherwise fine. I've done a lot of writing on this thing over the past few days and it's a pleasure to use.

    As a device, it looks fab. It's positioned between tab and laptop and the size reflects that. Build quality is exceptional. It's also an attention grabber, if you like that kind of thing.

    One thing you can't get away from is the price. You get more than an iPad, but you pay way more than an iPad. I bought a bundle from PCWorld and got S3+type cover for £525. That's a freaking lot of money, and nothing I would ever have paid usually except that the device is powerful, unusual, and I'm bought-in on the MS ecosystem so it slots into everything I do for home and work with only five minutes' setup. So, a luxury purchase, sure, but not one I regret.

  17. Ru'

    "But Windows 8.1 could be one of the biggest reasons owning Surface 3. That’s because it forces to re-orientate your head just to do the simplest acts."

    er, what? Was the review typed on the S3?

    (yeah, I know I could email the corrections, but a) I don't want to email, and b) it's no fun)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Let's face it, the 4GB/128GB version is a requirement for most people as is the keyboard cover.

    £600 seems a bit pricey for a tablatop (TM) with an Atom processor and only 4GB/128GB. Make it £400 or maybe £450 at a stretch and I'm a customer.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Pricey

      Well, it is a tad more than that. Depending on the use case the maschine is nicely priced actually.

      IF you want/need a tablet pc with an inductive pen that WORKS (so choose Wacom or NTRIG), can handle all the standard office apps and has all the support software for pen use (choose Win/x86) than your choice in the 10''/Atom class is basically Fujitsu, Lenovo or MS. Fujitsu and Lenovo have the previous Atom generation at higher (Fujitsu) or similar (Lenovo) costs.

      IF you do not need the pen than a notebook will be a better choice.

      I'm waiting for the LTE version and then get one without keyboard since I will use it as a "electronic legal pad" only just like I do with my current one.

  19. mmeier

    Missed all the important points. That the thing is a speed wizard compared to the ARM "powered" units was clear even without reading the tech specs in detail. The current geneation of Atom CPUs (Baytrail and beyond) are vastly more powerful than the current gen ARM. The interesting questions would have been:

    Battery endurance

    Pen and pen capabilities

    Miracast capabilities and quality

    SSD speed

  20. sabroni Silver badge

    re: this comes with a year's free Office 365

    >> not so nice for those unwilling to commit to one tablet maker for the rest of their days. <<

    one tablet maker...?

    1. mmeier

      Re: re: this comes with a year's free Office 365

      If you do not like Office 365 - do not use it. After all the Surface is just another Win8.x box so install what you want. And the pen allows you to use it.

      Oh and Win/x86 tablet pc are produced by a number of companies (Lenovo, Fujitsu, HP, Dell,...)

  21. Jason Hindle

    I got one. Thoughts

    It's well built, starts quickly and is very responsive. However, compared to the iPad, it really is a bit too big and heavy, IMHO, for armchair browsing. The screen is very nice; the device seems to run Photoshop and Lightroom ok. It just about squeeses into the tablet compartment of my camera bag.

    The keyboard feels pretty cheap and nasty, but I don't care as I only paid twenty quid for it (thank you PC World). That said, I'm finding it superb for touch typing, and the backlighting is useful.

  22. 0laf Silver badge

    Too expensive

    We looked at them but got Dell Venue tabs instead. Half the price and pretty much the same experience.

    They've been a successful choice in fending off the demand for iPads that would have needed a lot of back room changes to work properly. Turns out "iPad" was just being used for "tablet" like Sellotape is used for "sticky tape".

    User love 'em. User the on the desk with a dock and a 22" monitor, pick it up like to use as a tablet if they want or attach the keyboard/battery and have a netbook with 11hr battery.

    Not sure why, I've tried a Win8.1 tablet and the OS sucked goats. And that's from someone that likes Windows Phones.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Too expensive

      The Venues are basically nice. Their weak point is the pen. While a proper (inductive) pen it is not (yet?) up to the quality and precision of Wacom and NTrig. IF they fix it (or move back to Wacom, traditionally used by DELL) the Venues would be mighty fine systems with their changeable batteries and nice size.

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: Too expensive

        We don't use the pens at all and haven't had anyone ask for one.

        They really only get used in anger docked on the desktop or docked to the battery pack keyboard. Which I think actually proves the point that most people don't need a tablet.

        They ask for a tablet, add a keyboard and a mouse and maintain the illusion that they really didn't want a laptop.

        Which is stupid and wasteful because the Dells with the battery keyboard are not only more expensive but are considerably heavier than a laptop. Unless the battery life is needed it's a bit pointless.

        1. mmeier

          Re: Too expensive

          We have currently three customers, each with triple digit number of devices deployed, that went x86 because of the pen. The use Lenovo TPT10, Dell Latitude 10 and Lenovo Helix respectively. Not the cheapest boxes and the Lenovo comes in a cheaper penless variant as well. Wasn't even considered by the customer.

          So it clearly is a "it depends" situation.

  23. ItsNotMe

    What I find amusing... the number of people who carry around their FondleSlabs and use them as cameras. In Mathew Brady's day, every camera was a large and cumbersome thing to tote around. Not so today.

    And I wonder how many of these muppets have a perfectly good cell phone stuffed in their pocket that would take just as good of an image. Chances are they all do.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: What I find amusing...

      The only time I've used the camera on a (10.1") tablet is in the Google Translate app- you point the tablet at a French newspaper and read a rough English translation on the screen. It's actually very good, though niche.

      Trying the same on a newer, faster 4.3" phone was just a bit of a faff because of the smaller screen.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm coming round to them

    I'm torn. The latest Surfaces are really very nice. On the other hand I hate the idea of not having enough horsepower to do what I want whenever I want to do it. In the old old days you could buy a portable SPARC lappy. These days the closest thing is this:,234,0%29ec but it looks like it could grill meat...including my legs.

    A Surface Pro form factor with 32Gb RAM, 1 Tb disk and enough cpu to run 2 or 3 VMs at once and I'll hand you my wallet.

  25. Alex Walsh

    I ended up getting one of these (John Lewis price-matched the Currys deal, so I got the higher end machine with the keyboard cover for £525) because everything I was reading about the Surface Pro 4 made it look like it was heading towards a Intel M processor, which for my use wasn't enough of an improvement over the Cherrytrail to warrant the price difference. Looking at a lot of benchmarks, the S3 isn't much outperformed by the i3 variant of the S3Pro, mostly due to thermal throttling constraints, and performance wise I've no complaints so far.

    I needed a new machine as my ASUS S2000, had died. The ASUS UX305 was top of my hit list but I'd read there were a lot of issues with the intel video driver that hadn't been resolved, so it put me off. In the end, after looking at various other bits of kit (Toshiba Click Mini, Transformer Chi, Dell Chrombooks), I opted for the S3 and have to say I'm pleased with it.

    It's not cheap but it's not Apple expensive either. it's surprisingly difficult to get a high res screen on anything this small, which is also a limiting factor. Far too many of the smaller screened devices feature x768 as part of the res, which in this day and age is naughty.

  26. Yugguy

    That is not a Surface

    It is one of those weird ZX Spectrum PLUS things with a "proper" keyboard.


  27. Dreams

    Windows fan, but...

    I seriously looked at Windows tablets, including the Surface, but there are several concerns I have which have kept me from purchasing one.

    1. I have already invested money into apps for Android

    2. Microsoft Office (emphasis on OneNote) would have been the main reason why I would have bought a Windows tablet, but Office 365 is now available on Android. And the Android 365 syncs perfectly via OneDrive with my desktop 365.

    3. It's nice to have access to the same applications that run on PCs, but most applications that run on the desktop environment do not work well on small touchscreens. The ability to install desktop software isn't really an advantage at all...not yet at least. Try to use the PC version of Adobe Photoshop on a tablet.

    4. A tablet for me must be a tablet and not a laptop hybrid. Keyboards are nice, but if I need a keyboard for my tablet then my tablet wasn't designed well enough. All the Windows tablets I've tried would need a keyboard for a majority of the desktop applications...then why not just buy an ultra thin laptop.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Windows fan, but what I've seen up till now hasn't been enough to convince me to buy a Windows tablet. Currently I own a Samsung Tab S 10.5 LTE.

    1. Yugguy

      Re: Windows fan, but...

      1. I have already invested money into apps for Android

      This is my biggest driver also for not wanting to change to Apple/Windows.

    2. mmeier

      Re: Windows fan, but...

      Use a tablet pc like the x86 based Surface units instead of a tablet. The pen is THE key to the systems. OneNote with a pen leaves the Andy version in the dust and with the pen and HWR desktop software is quite useable.

  28. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I thought the ad was a parody

    When I saw the ad for this, I thought it was a parody. The US ad for this just says (as I recall) "Surface 3. Slightly smaller. A little lighter". I mean, seriously.

  29. JustNiz

    question I've never got an answer to.

    I like the detachable keyboard idea, but it seems only Microsfot are doing it.

    Can you upgrade these Microsoft tabletty things to Linux or do they have Windows burned-in/locked down somehow?

    1. mmeier

      Re: question I've never got an answer to.

      Well just the tablet pc

      Lenovo Helix (2)

      Fujitsu Q904

      HP has some tablets that do it as well

  30. Chika

    Well I can honestly say that I want nothing to do with any laptop or fondleslab that has been used to tickle anyone's nads!

    More seriously I still have little use for a Windows Surface at that sort of price. I already have a tablet that does what I need it to do and it cost me considerably less than the asking price here. Until M$ (and Apple in places) can be moved onto something that bit cheaper, I suspect that they will find it difficult to get into the market.

    Unless Google (and Apple, possibly) do something really stupid, of course.

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