Scott Hanselman

Using a Surface Pro 3 full time for two months

October 13, '14 Comments [63] Posted in Reviews
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en-INTL-PDP-Surface-Cover-Black-RD2-00080-LargeBack in August I posted my initial impressions of a Surface Pro 3 after using it for a week or so. I paid for the Surface Pro 3 with my own money and have been using it as my primary machine ever since. I've been using it now for two months full time and figured it was time to break down the good, the bad, and the weird.

I won't waste your time telling you specs and details you can search for. Instead, I'll tell you what has worked and what hasn't the last few months.

The Good

  • It's very fast. I haven't had any issues or concerns about performance. I've given talks internationally this last few months and used this Surface Pro 3 for demos involving multiple instances of Visual Studio without concern.
  • I always want more memory, but 8 gigs has been fine. I can run Hyper-V or VirtualBox and run at least one VM without concern. Even better is running the VM off a USB3 hard drive. However, 12 gigs of RAM would have been a nice option.
  • Running two monitors with the Surface Pro 3 Dock is pretty perfect. I'm having no major issues with my 24" monitors. A little more on some subtle video card things below under "The Weird."
  • It's far more usable in your lap than previous Surface versions. I'm sitting on my front porch right now, in fact, typing this post while the kids run around. It's actually kind of nicer than a laptop in that the screen part doesn't flop as I type.
  • The Dock is exceptional. It adds 3 USB 3 ports and 2 USB 2 ports, for a system-wide total of 6 ports. It adds a second Mini DisplayPort as well as Gigabit Ethernet and an audio jack. Drop in, go. It also works nicely with Mouse Without Borders.
  • The kick stand is brilliant. Having a continuous kickstand is perfect and useful. Every tablet should have one.
  • It's really an everything/everywhere machine. I use it for work, then remove the keyboard and use it on the treadmill for movies.
  • I added a 64 gig MicroSD card and put movies on it. Works great on a plane and everyone loves the kickstand and comments on it.
  • The pen is fantastic, but I don't really use it for anything other than OneNote.

The Bad

  • I'm underwhelmed by the battery life. I have been generally underwhelmed with batteries in general in the last year. From my iPhone 5S to my Lenovo to this Surface Pro, all batteries seem to last about 5 hours for me. This is "fine." But it's not awesome. I never take any device anywhere without some subconscious concern about the battery. It's not an all-day battery. From what I can tell the number one thing you can do to get it to last longer is to lower the screen brightness. Unfortunately for me, I like a bright screen.
  • I almost point this under the Weird, but I just don't like the Touchpad on the Surface Pro 3. It's OK, but it's not epic. A MacBook Pro is a universally loved touch surface. No one knows why, but it just feels right. The Surface Pro 3 touchpad is one of the best I've used, but it's very small and you'll want to at least adjust the pointer speed under Motion without Mouse Properties. While I don't use it as a mouse, it's gesture support for pinch to zoom and scrolling is excellent. That said, you'll end up using the touchscreen for that naturally.
  • With every Surface I've ever used there's been this weird thing where it would stop seeing the keyboard. It happens maybe once in 30 attaches, but it's annoying. Just detach and reattach, but it's clearly a flaky bug and I've seen it maybe 8 times in the last two months.
  • I spend a lot of time in Google Chrome and while it's great on my desktop, I must say that using Google Chrome on a hybrid like the Surface that has both touch and high-dpi really makes Chrome feel unpolished. Touch support in Chrome is there, scrolling and pinch to zoom work, but with newer betas there are weird zoom effects they appear to be bringing over from Android.
  • In recent Chrome builds it started popping up the Virtual Keyboard. Unfortunately, that's not Chrome's job to pop up the keyboard. ;) The keyboard pops up when a physical keyboard isn't attached. However, Chrome pops it up whenever a text box is touched, and even worse, resizes the window to half height. It's REALLY annoying. I just can't use Chrome or recommend it on a touch screen. I'd love it if someone from the Chrome team would get in touch with me or someone at Microsoft because this kind of thing makes everyone look bad. Here's an eight month old thread that continues filled with folks with this issue.

The Weird and The Subtle

  • Early on, before the first firmware update that came over Windows Update, I was seeing some concerning heat coming off the the back right side. I had one "thermal shutdown" while sitting in my car. I haven't seen any heat issues since the most recent firmware updates, but it was initially concerning. Ultimately I did have to come to terms with the fact that mine is an i7 processor, not an iPad Air. It does have a fan and it will use it if you are running Handbrake and compressing video.
  • Hotkeys and the keyboard take a week or so to get used to. One feature I'd like to see (can you hear me Surface Team?) is to be able to have F1-F8 be function keys and F9-F12 stay as Home/End/Page Up and Page Down. It took me a while to figure out some of the more subtle hotkeys on a Surface Pro 3 keyboard, for example:
    • Toggle Fn lock - Pressing Fn-CapsLock will toggle the top row to stay as Function Keys.
    • Fn+Spacebar - Printscreen
    • Fn+Del and Fn+Backspace - Brightness up and down
    • Fn+Up and Fn+Down - Page up and Page Down (in addition to the other PgUp/PgDn keys.
    • Windows Key + Vol Down - Screenshot to screenshots folder
  • I think Windows on a tablet should be more aggressive about what it does in the background on a tablet. Every once in a while there's some indexing service or malware service that slows everything down. It's no more on a Surface than it is on my other devices, but somehow I'm more aware of it with this device. When I'm not plugged in or have my keyboard removed, Windows needs to CHILL OUT.

I recommend the Surface. It's an amazing, fast, thin device. It's got some quirks, but I've had two firmware updates in as many months, and Microsoft has publically said it would support it (as well it should) with Windows 10. I think the Surface Pro 3 will likely get more useful updates, as driver updates, pen updates, and firmware updates that will make it better.

Finally, Windows 10 and the "Continuum" concept cannot come fast enough. It's exactly the behavior I want on this device.


Sponsor: Thanks for my friends at Octopus Deploy for sponsoring the feed this week. Their product is fantastic. Using NuGet and powerful conventions, Octopus Deploy makes it easy to automate releases of ASP.NET applications and Windows Services. Say goodbye to remote desktop and start automating today!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Monday, 13 October 2014 02:35:39 UTC
What about keyboard cover? Do you recommend the typeface cover keyboard or compact wireless keyboard from Logitech? Considering heavy content gen activities.
Monday, 13 October 2014 02:39:01 UTC
Great timing. I've also been using my Surface Pro 3 as my primary machine--well, at least the 2 months that I was in Hawaii.

I'm actually strongly considering selling mine.

I really liked it, but when I got back home and picked up my retina Macbook Pro, it just felt so much better and more powerful and that touch pad... so had to live without.

Sure, it's a lot bigger, but in most cases it doesn't matter. Battery life seems to be better as well.

Still debating, but your post helps. So, thanks.
Monday, 13 October 2014 02:54:47 UTC
Phani - The Type Cover is great. It lights up, it's easy to type on.

John - Well, an other parallel is my X1 Carbon. When I really want a substantial laptop, I go to my X1. But when I want a 95% solution in 1.5 lbs, my SP3 is my goto machine.
Scott Hanselman
Monday, 13 October 2014 03:31:02 UTC
Hi Scott, great post, could not agree more, I love my surface 3 and also replaced it as my full time computer. It's great !
I had some problems with it using hyper-v though, it changed the profile of the surface to operate more as a desktop (lost the standby connected functionality and started consuming double battery etc.), did you have any of these problems? any tips on how to run hyper-v in it ?

Thanks and keep those nice posts coming please !
Leandro
leandro
Monday, 13 October 2014 03:49:43 UTC
Thanks for the article Scott. I totally agree with all the points you've mentioned.

Also, in my case it seemed like the resolution of SP3 is too high. I had trouble working with a few applications that are not designed to follow the display scale as "most" of the windows native apps do. So I ended up using 1920x1200 which still looks pretty good.

While taking note in portrait mode sometimes when my hand accidentally touches the windows (home) touch button it just takes me to the windows home screen. So I usually turn my SP3 upside-down while taking note in portrait mode.

I also wish there was a richer app store for windows.

Everything else about SP3 is just amazing.
Monday, 13 October 2014 04:16:34 UTC
I was really thinking on getting a SP3.. but now with the release of the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3... I'm torn... I hope lenovo sends you a loaner so you get to review it as well! :P
Francisco Noriega
Monday, 13 October 2014 04:18:11 UTC
I've been running the SP3 (i7/256) as my primary dev machine for a month+ now (with the dock at home, and I travel a lot so the Surface sees a lot of airplane time). It is typical Microsoft version 3 - it rocks, significantly improved from v1/v2...but it ain't perfect. The keyboard drop-out is seriously annoying. The touch pad is...fine but not great. The thermal throttling issues haven't been a real problem...except the one time it was as I was out in the field (a boat, actually), my app doing mapping and GPS recording and calculating whale and dolphin geo-locations (CPU intensive stuff) and the Surface apparently decided it was too hot and started acting like it was crippled. The Wifi-after-sleep issues hit me a couple times but not recently.

Otherwise it is a really good, highly portable, solid dev box running VS 2013 on my single-dev project (i.e. my compiles are measured in tens of seconds...not minutes or longer). Plus it plays video, the Kindle app is nice and the touch interface is well done. And, of course, the touch screen makes me poke in frustration at that fancy Retina display when I sometimes switch back to my MacBook Air. I don't use the pen either - I've thought pen computing would be really awesome - in theory - for the past 15 years, but it just hasn't panned (penned?) out. Not sure what pens are good at; frankly I can type much faster than I can write.

Yes, Google is obviously intentionally crippling their touch interface in Chrome. I find myself running IE (omgwtf!) when I don't have the keyboard attached just because it sucks less in that mode than anything else.

Overall: B+.

Very, very good. Best machine I currently own. But not pure awesomeness. And yes, 12Gb would have been nice.
Monday, 13 October 2014 04:20:28 UTC
Thanks Scott, this post really gets me off the fence. I have a client trying to choose between the Asus zenbook, Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 and the Surface Pro 3.
I now just need to revisit the specs vs price calculations then make my final recommendation.
While the windows phones are prevalent here, the surface pro has absolutely no official retailers here. It is sad and pathetic. We need more 4g and 3g capable tablet/hybrid devices in Africa. The netbook is remarkably strong here still so I think we are ready for serious tablets.
James Makumbi
Monday, 13 October 2014 06:01:25 UTC
Hi Scott,

Good post. Thanks.

I've just bought a Surface Pro 3 i7-512 (and I'm still waiting for it, it should arrive tomorrow, can't wait) but didn't get the Dock station because it has only one screen connector. How do you connect two screens to that? (I'm planning to use the dynadick U3.0 I already got).

Cheers,
Oscar Zarate
Monday, 13 October 2014 06:02:21 UTC
Oscar - you can use both display ports when the dock attached. Two screens, one in the dock, one for the surface
Scott Hanselman
Monday, 13 October 2014 06:32:35 UTC
Could not agree with you more on your final point. I am missing it being more like a tablet now I have installed Windows 10. On a side note any tips for getting the pen to launch OneNote under win 10?
Monday, 13 October 2014 06:55:09 UTC
Thanks for the update. I think I will wait for the Broadwell which shouldn't get so hot.
PS:
'With every Surface I've every used' = 'With every Survace I've ever used'?
Rune Jeppesen
Monday, 13 October 2014 07:02:18 UTC
Great post, Scott. I got my SP3 a couple of weeks ago and I love it. I use it as my main dev machine and it has even replaced my desktop.

One thing I haven't managed to achieve is creating a boot into VHD setup. I would be curious to hear if you managed to do this.

@leandro, if you don't need Hyper-V all the time (I only need it for WP development), the easiest is to disable the hypervisor when not required. This restores all the tablet functionalities. Paul Thurott has a guide on how to do this. HTH.

Seb
Seb
Monday, 13 October 2014 07:40:51 UTC
Mine is the i5 and while I love it, I don't like the fact that it runs so hot. When Skyping or Dropbox is syncing (and my CPU is around 30%), the fan starts making a lot of noise... I'll have to send it in to get a new one I guess (it's one of the batch with most heat problems).
Gill Cleeren
Monday, 13 October 2014 07:43:50 UTC
I also love my Surface Pro 3, it's a brilliant machine.
I'd like to add a con: It doesn't turn the screen off after a while, and this feature is missing from the power options. Very annoying when I use it as my main PC at home and it's always turned on. I can turn off my 2 monitors, but not the screen on the tablet. Yes, there's a powershell command to turn off all screens, but that only works until some running process decides to do some work, and then the screens pop back to life.
Monday, 13 October 2014 08:07:07 UTC
"A MacBook Pro is a universally loved touch surface. No one knows why, but it just feels right."

I know why - it's the drivers on Mac. Try using Boot Camp on the same MacBook Pro and even though it's exactly the same touchpad, it's Apple's Boot Camp drivers that cause the experience to degrade.
David
Monday, 13 October 2014 09:10:11 UTC
Way overpriced otherwise I would get one
Tom
Monday, 13 October 2014 11:34:29 UTC
David the Trackpad++ drivers, if you can find them the site seems to always be down, make the touchpad on bootcamp feel exactly as it does in OSX.
ctrlShiftBryan
Monday, 13 October 2014 12:20:14 UTC
I'm very happy with the Surface Pro 3 too. For browsing I use Firefox and IE. One of the few things that annoy me is that several times the Surface seems to have used up a lot of battery (and probably dissipated much heat in my backpack) whilst I thought I had put it into standby. Oh, and I'm unable to get Wireless Hosted Network to work properly - I assume it's due to the WiFi drivers which according to the forums have been troublesome..
Eugene
Monday, 13 October 2014 13:05:11 UTC
Sorry Scott, I usually enjoy your writing, but you lost me at your first 'Good' item. What do you mean 'kind of nicer than a laptop in that the screen part doesn't flop as I type'? I've been using laptops for 15 years and I've never had a screen 'flop as I type'. Or do you just mean it's better than previous Surfaces?
Ron
Monday, 13 October 2014 14:00:28 UTC
Scott, how do you hook up two monitors for your Surface? The dock has only one DisplayPort out. Do you actually connect the other monitor directly to your Surface?
Monday, 13 October 2014 15:06:18 UTC
Thank you for whiting this.
l3ny
Monday, 13 October 2014 15:26:49 UTC
Great review, thanks!

s/With every Surface I've every used/With every Surface I've ever used

(that every vs. ever gets me all the time)
Monday, 13 October 2014 15:31:45 UTC
Good review, Scott. I've had my SP3 (i7/256) since the release in the UK at the end of August, and I find myself using it while travelling rather than my heavyweight (though heavily spec'ed) laptop. It does everything I need on a day to day basis.

The biggest issue I have is the Wifi - it regularly fails to pickup *known* networks after coming out of sleep mode, and I have to go to Airplane mode and back again to make it connect. Very irritating, and eliminates a lot of unattended use cases where I'd like to use them as information kiosks for short term installs because I can't trust them to wake up and work first time.

Monday, 13 October 2014 15:36:42 UTC
Scott, do you miss LTE on the Surface? With the iPad, first having it wifi only, and then enabling the LTE modem was night and day. (I mean, sure, the phone has hotspot, and I can enable it, and get the iPad online that way, but it requires futzing every time, which kills the "sense of child-like wonder" (c). And, obviously, this is a first-world problem, but still...)
max
Monday, 13 October 2014 15:41:13 UTC
@Ron
He mentioned it after talking about using it in your actual lap, as in, sitting on the porch.

If you type on a regular, bottom heavy, laptop like that, the screen has to shake and wobble as the base shifts in your lap due to natural movement of your legs, etc.

Who hasn't experienced that?
Milos
Monday, 13 October 2014 15:42:26 UTC
Thanks for this recap. I'm in a position where I'll need to make a decision ecosystem-wise (Windows vs. OSX) in approximately one year and the next gen Surface Pro (4) might go a long way toward influencing that decision...
Howie
Monday, 13 October 2014 15:48:56 UTC
Max - Not really, I just tether my phone. It's always with me.

Milos/Ron - Yes, exactly. I'm not sure why that was controversial.

Craig - That stopped being a problem for me after the 9/9 firmware update.

Wei - There's a DisplayPort on the Surface and a SECOND DisplayPort on the Dock!

Scott Hanselman
Monday, 13 October 2014 16:27:45 UTC
Scott; You said the 9/9 update solved the lack of wifi coming out of sleep? I've done all the updates and I still have the problem. Not to sure what to do, especially if Microsoft now thinks this problem is resolved
Dave Sharp
Monday, 13 October 2014 16:27:57 UTC
Thanks for the update on the SP3. Your last review is what drove me to get one of these wonderful devices in the first place, and so far, it's been working out great! Some comments:

  1. Battery Life: My side-by-side comparison of the i7 and the i5 showed that, despite what Microsoft reports, the i7 has significantly worse battery life (+heat) with very minor performance gains.

  2. Chrome: You're spot on with this. I had to disable "Metro" Chrome entirely.

  3. i7 Overheating: I also had my i7 overheat with the weird temperature image while installing the first firmware updates. Fortunately, things seemed to work OK after that, so I expect the issue has been resolved.


Thanks!
Monday, 13 October 2014 16:34:39 UTC
Regarding the keyboard problem. My surface pro 3 was having the same issue, just as you described. I found this page of steps to try: Troubleshoot your Surface Cover and eventually I got to Solution 3, and ran the Surface troubleshooter tool they link to, here: Surface Troubleshooter

I don't know what it did, but I haven't had that issue since. It's worth trying at least...
Cameron LaRue
Monday, 13 October 2014 18:43:38 UTC
I too have been using an i7 Surface Pro 3 since it came out in August as my one and only development machine. Overall I love it, but I too have a list of weird and subtle, most of which I chock up to a combination of Windows and Surface Drivers.

One thing that has annoyed me from day 1 is that to drive two external monitors with the Dock I need to manually connect a mini-displayport cable to the Surface itself. Sound trivial but makes the whole dock/undock routine MUCH more cumbersome. Especially since Windows seems to need to go through two monitor detection cycles. The solution? Two that I know of:
1) Buy at least 1 DisplayPort monitor that supports daisy-chaining. But these are spendy and hard to come by.
2) Buy a monitor hub that can split one DisplayPort signal into two monitors. Windows fully recognizes the monitors as distinct without any drivers or special software. This one is working well for me so far: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812282011
Brett
Monday, 13 October 2014 19:07:18 UTC
I wonder how many folks don't know that you can search your hand written words in OneNote. I keep a daily notebook for jobs, and print my Outlook Calendar out to it. I use the pen all day long to catalog issues and I am constantly cutting an pasting text from one place to another. The ability to search through these handwritten notes, has replaced the stacks and stacks of printed notes I used to keep as a way of going back in time to check on certain things.

My only dilemma with OneNote is the desktop version is so much more powerful, but the touch version is much easier on the tablet. I go back and forth a lot depending on the task at hand. Being able to see the history of a pages life is quite a killer feature also.

MS really nailed this one. My only complaint is fixable. The keyboard and touchpad, even though they work nicely, have a less than premium feel to them. I look forward to any improvements in this area, and the ability to just snap on the new and improved keyboard will be pretty cool assuming they are working on it as we speak.
Jim Fallon
Monday, 13 October 2014 19:17:14 UTC
Battery life - on my i5 Surface Pro 3 with IE not Chrome and not running Hyper-V, I regularly see 10 hour battery life. i7 is definitely less power efficient, but the mix of software also makes a significant difference. Just to add another $0.02
Monday, 13 October 2014 19:20:29 UTC
@James and @Scott,

Did you know in the Windows 10 Tech Preview there's an option in the 'Taskbar and Start Menu Properties' where you can turn off using the Start Menu and go back instead to the Start Screen? It requires a logoff/logon to switch the setting, and the continuum change looks fantastic for automating that, but it's something you can change if you primarily use the device as a tablet, and still have the option to switch back when you need (though not as slick).

Hopefully when continuum comes out, attaching the Surface to the dock will also trigger the change/option.
Max
Monday, 13 October 2014 21:44:08 UTC
+1 on the keyboard freeze and Chrome's...er, lack of polish.

Also - where's the three-finger forward/backward navigation swype gesture, MS? Backspace/Shift-Backspace gets old. I know Metro IE has fancy screen gestures, but need something general purpose for the desktop explorer, browsers, etc
Monday, 13 October 2014 23:16:32 UTC
Anyone try taking a picture of a receipt and putting it into Onenote? Fixed focus camera is the Achilles heel of this device. Same thing for trying to capture a whiteboard session. Big time miss!
Pritam Dodeja
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 00:19:03 UTC
I am seriously torn about getting a SP3, Microsoft created a great product. I keep thinking though that it was designed with Broadwell processors in mind and the Intel delay made them release a Haswell product.

It explains what seems to be slightly underspec heat dissipation. Roll on SP4/SP3 Broadwell refresh :).
Pete
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 09:06:06 UTC
> be able to have F1-F8 be function keys and F9-F12 stay

Yes - that would be a big help!

I have the i7/512. It's a great tool. At work, I use it as a second monitor for my work laptop. When I'm at a hotel, I use it as the primary device and my work laptop as a second monitor (using <a href="http://www.splashtop.com/personal" title="Splashtop Personal").

I have previously had the Surface RT, which was great, but a little slow under load (my mum now has it). Surface 2 - performs very well and does 85% of what I needed (my fiancée now has this). I only got the Surface Pro 3 because I wanted to develop when away from home.

My cyan keyboard came with a black stylus holder, which I think is bad - it should match; so I'll buy one in cyan.

I have a Wedge mouse, but don't like it (right clicking often generates a left click). I want to buy the Microsoft Arc Surface edition, but the UK site shows it as being out of stock and the person on the live chat told me yesterday that he doesn't know when it will be back in stock.

Thanks for the great reviews Scott :-)
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 18:50:38 UTC
Besides running VS 2013 in a VM, I do run Adobe Photoshop. Its the 8 GB RAM that is holding me back. How much memory are you left with after running VS2013 anf VirtualBox?
Thursday, 16 October 2014 02:51:13 UTC
Ron, I actually prefer SP3 over clamshell on my lap. Also when you are touching the screen, using the kickstand would stop it from shaking unlike the regular touchscreen laptops.
Larry
Thursday, 16 October 2014 02:55:42 UTC
FYI: I would not like SP1 or SP2 on lap, the friction kickstand makes the difference.
Larry
Thursday, 16 October 2014 13:16:11 UTC
For anyone who cares (unlike the chrome team) here's a link to the bug for the virtual keyboard popup

https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=335735

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 18:35:02 UTC
Been running my i5 Pro 3 for a few months now and absolutely love it. I hate that you can't sleep with Hyper-V enabled, but I don't really need to run any VMs. As an IT consultant, it is my primary device and battery life is ok. I can generally get though a day without having to charge. And having used it on an airplane, it is much easier to use than a laptop. I watched a guy try to work on his 15.6 and it was almost laughable. Price is the biggest con I think. It needs to come down a bit.
Ryan
Tuesday, 21 October 2014 19:40:52 UTC
One thing that struck me as odd in the Continuum video was that you need to detach the keyboard for it to switch. I *never* detach the keyboard on my Surface but merely flip it around to the back side. I do hope that somehow that would work also.
Jesper
Thursday, 23 October 2014 03:19:53 UTC
i have a surface pro 1 - 4/256gb.. it has a lot of shortcomings, but i still love it and use it every day. i envy after the surface pro 3 and will probably have one soon, but its missing one important feature - a fingerprint reader. Hanselman, make this happen, i believe in you!
street
Sunday, 26 October 2014 18:00:57 UTC

Hi Scott,

I'm interested in what you say about running Handbrake. I've had a Surface Pro 2 I5 128GB for a while now, and using Handbrake to convert .ts files to MP4 files on it has it running at pretty much 100% with the CPU at around 2.5GHz. However, I've just bought a Surface Pro 3 I7 256GB, and running tests converting exactly the same file on both machines, find that the Pro 3 almost immediately drops down to around 2.09GHz and actually takes a little longer to perform the conversion than the Pro 2 does. The temperature rises to around 75 degrees with the fan obviously coming on, but if the lower CPU speed is the result of throttling due to temperature, why isn't it happening with the Pro 2? Any thoughts you or anyone else might have on this would be gratefully appreciated.
Marian
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 03:13:27 UTC
Scott,

Great article. I wrote a blog post recently about how I set up my Surface Pro 3 for the various places I work:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141028021804-1101493-how-i-replaced-my-laptop-with-the-microsoft-surface-3-pro

I have had better luck than you report on battery life. But I have the i5. That may be part of the difference.

Thanks again,
Todd
Monday, 17 November 2014 10:27:45 UTC
You say you don't like the touch pad on the Surface Pro 3 then the next line you say its the best touch pad you have ever used.. I'm confused by what you say
Paul
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 00:22:02 UTC
Why did you list Chrome touchscreen bugs as the cons? I agree, Chrome has terrible touchscreen support (on all touchscreen laptops) but I don't understand how they are bugs with the SP3 itself.
Ben
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 05:46:07 UTC
Scott, just curious if you found any good add-ins for Visual Studio for use with a touch display. For example, I'd like to be able to scroll in the code editor by swiping up or down, but this just ends up highlighting text instead of scrolling the window. In contrast, Word 2013 seems to intuitively know when I want to move around in the window vs. selecting text.
Brian Baker
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 17:07:31 UTC
Wondering if anyone can comment on the scaling issues when connected to an external monitor. Looking for a good (cheap) solution. My 23 inch monitor display is oversized and faded looking when I connect it up to the Surface and/or the docking station.
Bill
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 00:28:00 UTC
The Surface Pro 3 works great with a display port hub, or with newer monitors you can daisy chain via the display out port. I know this works with the Dell 2414 series monitors. StarTech makes the display port hub, but be sure to get the latest version because it supports the Surface Pro 3 dock. My setup allows me to dock the Surface Pro without needing to plug any additional cables.

Overall the unit works great! It would be great if Microsoft could provide the capability to sense if the unit is docked or not and change the screen fonts and icons based it being docked or not. Otherwise the fonts and icons are either too large or too small.
Barry Puckett
Thursday, 25 December 2014 13:00:08 UTC
Hi Scott

I had exactly same issue, using Chrome in SP3 is killing battery. I'm able to write code on VS 2013 6hrs but just browse on Chrome 2hrs than I need recharge again.

I tried almost everything on Chrome like (Remove all Plugins) but didn't worked for me. Some people mention about some registry settings but still same.

Thanks for your recommendations and reviews
Simon Ozturk
Sunday, 28 December 2014 23:42:05 UTC
Great review!

I have had my Surface Pro 3 for a little over a week and I just was wondering if you were experiencing any issue with Chrome taking a few minutes to open?

When I try to open the Chrome browser, it will take about 5 minutes to open. I am not sure if this is the Surface or Chrome.

Also, Chrome seems to have a hard time runnning when it finally opens. It will usually take a few seconds to register scrolling and it also keeps trying to 'kill the page.'

Have you experienced any of this? IE works just fine but I would like to use Chrome as my default. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated!
Ashley G
Monday, 29 December 2014 14:14:35 UTC
Chrome no longer splits the screen for me, but does always pop the keyboard up. From experience i find Google pretty much *never* listen to user feedback for Chrome, or their Android services, from forums. There are hundreds of requests with pages running hundreds of replies over several years for obviously useful features and bug fixes that are just sitting there being ignored. A shame. I had to abandon Chrome and use IE for the first time in years when using the old Surface Pro 1 at work, mostly due to DPI being handled so unusably badly. Thankfully that's much better by now and im sticking with Chrome on Pro3.

I've got lots of other gripes with the Pro 3 but I think they are mostly gripes with Windows 8's handling of touch and not the device itself.

External monitors: One monitor (screen or external) seems to be the "main one" and controls the text scaling. Although apps will change their control and text scaling when you drag from one screen to the other, it doesn't work well. If you have a low DPI monitor, many apps are a mess. Here's a good thread on this: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/surfpro3-surfdevice/external-display-scaling-issues-surface-pro-3/00559189-3f82-4c38-bd77-969e7c6f6a10

Different ways of selecting text: You can double tap to select a word quickly, but get no draggable bits to then highlight more text. To get those, you have to touch and hold and then sort of wiggle your finger. I bet lots of people never even figure that out! Some apps, including Notepad++ - surely the most popular feature rich windows text editor - don't ever give you the draggable cursor things. Generally I find that mouse vs finger vs pen and across different apps is a bit of a mess. The movable cursor things are just not as good as Android as well. Much harder to position. Seems random whether you get copy, past, etc displayed or not.

Tool tips: when you touch the screen and then start typing with keyboard, a tool tip will often pop up for the box you touch and never go away! Incredibly annoying. For example you get the "Whats on your mind" tip in facebook status box overlapping where you are trying to type the stats. Solution is to always "touch away" in some unused bit of screen after touching. This might also be Chrome specific.

Touch and drag: lots of website now support swiping, eg to swipe away tracks in Googles music player. Or things like touch+shift to select multiple items. No way to do this with fingers yet.

Predictive text: again, just not as good as Android. Rubbish that word correction isn't built into the on screen keyboard. You actually have to click the "..." button on screen to go to the mouse-friendly regular right clikc menu before you get spelling corrections. Rubbish.

Power saving: There is no separation between screen off and sleeping. A very common user request is surely to let the screen turn off (for power saving and to avoid accidentally touches) and leave music playing. This is not possible. Windows has no support for this at all! Again, this is something that a regular tablet OS would obviously have. There's also a really nasty "feature" where if you start up Hyper-V (Microsofts virtualisation tech) it completely disables sleep. Which means closing the type cover or pressing power button or letting it go to sleep completely hibernates the machine! Hyper V turned itself on when I installed Visual Studio Community with zero notification that this crippling change would happen. Had to trawl the net to find out and then disable hyper V (via command line) to get the machine usable again. http://winsupersite.com/mobile-devices/surface-pro-3-tip-hyper-v-vs-connected-standby

Overall though, I am loving the device. It just feels like the hardware is way ahead of the Windows software atm. Microsoft really should have had some in depth "how to use the surface" tutorial with the device. Normally those things aren't a good idea, but the OS is not up to scratch or intuitive enough yet so they should have held users hands a bit more.
Nick S
Monday, 29 December 2014 14:20:11 UTC
Also, the Windows touch key on the device (not the keyboard one) is annoying. Too easy to touch by accident. I've been trying some touch screen games and end up brushing that button all the time. There's a reason Apple still have a non-capacitive button for home on iPhone/iPad. No easy way to disable it sadly. Android had this issue for ages and finally is getting around it by the fact the home key is on-screen and apps can now finally hide the key (and re-show via swipe). Can't see a PC working like that. They just need to make it a physical key.

As a work around, I'd love to see a little sys tray app that has Surface specific toggles like "disable windows key: on/off", "disable sleep: on/off" (for playing music/films), "disable hyper V: on/off" (so programmers can use the damn machine!) etc.
Nick S
Thursday, 01 January 2015 09:37:01 UTC
"How to disable the Windows button
Some people find that the Windows button is a pain because they keep hitting accidentally. Thankfully, you can disable it.
In the Metro UI, type Device Manager. In that menu, open System devices, and open the Surface Home Button menu. Open the Driver tab, and then tap Disable. Repeat this process to re-enable it."


Found this at http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/surface-pro-3-helpful-tips-and-tricks/#ixzz3NYpd8p4g
Robert
Friday, 02 January 2015 04:22:49 UTC
We love it, I gave it to my wife for Christmas but we are exchanging it tomorrow, the on button has completely flattened on the top from the moment we started using it, and we were not rough with it, similar to what would happen with the old iPhones. Anyway, I'm buying mine next week, sick of traveling with my bulky laptop.
Kevin
Friday, 02 January 2015 17:47:28 UTC
I am a QuickBooks advisor and need to use QuickBooks and office programs primarily. Looking to see if anyone has used QuickBooks desktop on the Surface 3 and what configuration of memory would be best in the long run 128 or 256?
Stacey K
Tuesday, 06 January 2015 22:03:39 UTC
It wasn't mentioned in the post but Fn+Left arrow is 'Home' and Fn+Right arrow is 'End'. Which means I should be able to retrain my typing reflexes and keep the Fn-lock active at all times. I rely on Home/End a lot and was initially very concerned about this.

If that was already mentioned in the comments then I offer my apologies for not reading them all first but find-in-page didn't spot it for me.
Delve
Friday, 09 January 2015 17:01:52 UTC
Picked up a Lenovo Helix 2nd gen as a companion to my SP3 i5/8GB/256GB and admire the fanless and extended battery aspects of it. Was able to mimic fanless on the SP3 by disabling Turbo Boost with Throttlestop v7 utility. Have to get Microsoft to add it as an easy built-in toggle.

Chrome by default is more resource heavy and tends to heat up the SP3 but this can be improved by putting chrome://flags in the address bar and enable 'override software rendering list'.

Loss of WIFI connectivity after wake seems to have been finally resolved along with keyboard disconnect issue.

Delve, you can toggle between Windows shortcut keys and normal function keys by holding down Fn+Caps.

Extremely happy with the SP3 now with those changes. Only thing I hope for is a stiffer less flexible keyboard with dedicated mouse buttons. Thinkpad touchpoint nub and extended battery would be pluses.
mi7chy
Friday, 09 January 2015 22:42:49 UTC
Hi Scott,

Maybe you can add some extra words on te dock: The Surface fits perfectly without and with! the keyboard cover into the dock.
This is some informarmation I could not find everywhere, but now I've experienced it with my own Surface (yeah!). (unfortunately my two 24" monitors will sometimes be reset after some hours of work)


Ansonmus
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.