We’ve all seen the commercials. The Surface is “the tablet that can replace your laptop” (and apparently turn you into a really great dancer at the same time).
When the Pro 3 was released, I decided to give it a try—with all of the traveling I do for client meetings, having something as portable as a tablet but as powerful as a laptop would be outrageously convenient.
Now, after having my Surface for close to a year, what’s my final verdict? Below we’ll walk through what I feel makes this device a good fit for business, what makes it a bad fit for business, and whether or not it has my overall seal of approval.
What makes the Surface Pro 3 a good fit for business?
- Familiarity. The Surface runs a full version of Windows. This gives you all of the common Windows applications, the ability to easily map drives and printers, and the overall computing experience that we’re all familiar with (since we’ve been using it for years on our desktops).
- Portability. I’ve taken this to countless lunch meetings, where it’s really convenient to just flip up the keyboard and slide the thing out of the way when your food arrives. Once I’m finished, I just have to slide it back out, flip the keyboard back down, and I’m right where I left off.
- Performance. You’re not going to see me working in one application at a time. When I use my Surface, I have web browsers, email clients, spreadsheets, and my CRM open all at the same time, and I expect my machine to be able to handle it without sputtering all over the place. The Surface does.
- Battery life. I got 8 hours of battery life out of my Pro 3 during my first use, and that was with my massive CRM replicating in the background the entire time. A year later, I’m still duly impressed with how long it will stay charged.
- Surface Pen. While I’ve had issues using the pen (I’m classically trained in Handwriting for Doctors), it’s a great feature when you need to combine notes with diagrams or are walking around and don’t have a portable desk that you can strap to your waist. For those with decent penmanship, OneNote will convert your handwriting to text if you so desire.
What makes the Surface Pro 3 a bad fit for business?
- Keyboard. I was not terribly thrilled to shell out an additional $140 for a keyboard. I was even less thrilled to realize that I had to shell out an additional $140 for a keyboard that loses connection repeatedly and on a daily basis. Remember blowing on those old Nintendo cartridges to get them to work? Yeah, it’s like that.
- Wireless connectivity. This has been a known Microsoft issue since the device was released. Still, I have consistent issues with inconsistent wireless performance. Since there’s no Ethernet port on this device (which I could use as a work-around), this is a pretty significant issue.
- Monitor. The combination of small size and high resolution makes text really, really small. Yes, I’ve made Zoolander jokes about it (“What is this, a tablet for ants?!”).
- Ports. There is one USB port. This means that if I want to connect anything besides a mouse, I need to invest in a peripheral device that will give me more ports. Even if I use a Bluetooth mouse, I’m facing the same problem as soon as I hook up my dual monitor. And, I have yet to find any device that will give me both Ethernet and extra USB ports without also giving me painful performance issues.
- Charging Adapter. For some reason, the length on the charging adapter is just uneven enough that you will struggle to plug it in because the adapter’s weight will cause it to detach from the Surface.
What’s our final verdict?
Ultimately, you won’t see me pushing our clients to run out and purchase the Surface immediately because oh my gosh it’s going to revolutionize the way you work.
For the most part, it works. I can perform my daily tasks, and haven’t noticed any sort of marked drop in my productivity.
But for me, the nagging issues with connectivity (keyboard and wireless) and the weird game of Musical Chairs with the single USB port is cause for enough frustration that I will almost always opt to use my laptop instead.
The Surface Pro 3 may be both a tablet and a laptop in form, but in function? That leaves something to be desired.