Last weekend we went into Geneva to buy some stuff for the family and while there my dear wife made the mistake of letting me and my oldest son wander away by ourselves in the Fnac store at Balexert. So we stumbled on this stand where they had the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 on display. I had already been looking at buying one of these but the first ones that came out really had a battery life that was too abysmal and when the Pro 2 came out, well they were not that much better and then I already had bought a tablet that I was quite happy with. The Pro 3, well I had been tempted ever since they started to appear but the prices (in France) were rather steep after all. Big f… you to the EU tax-money wasters in Brussels for that by the way. So when I saw this one at a much more reasonable price and also found out that I could use my wife’s Swiss Fnac card to get a discount as well it was hard to resist. (I swear, it had big puppy eyes looking at me, begging, as well 😉 )
As the title of the post states, I am really happy with it so far. I got the i5 model with 128 Gb of SSD on it since I felt that this was the best compromise between cost, battery life and performance. There have been rumors of the i7 models running hot. I do not know how much of a real problem this really has been but I did not feel that the extra cost and potential hit on battery life was justified on the i7 models anyway. Sure, I would have gotten some more SSD as well but I really do not use much disk space on my tablets. My 64 Gb Acer W510 have hovered around 26 Gb free since I got it and that is with the recovery partition still in place. The 128 Gb in the i5 version is enough for me for the foreseeable future.
The CPU horsepower is of course a huge step up from the Atom based tablets that I already own. I was (am) quite happy with these tablets since they performed nicely for what I used them for. I will probably still use the old ones when traveling since the smaller from factor is an advantage. The 12 inch Pro 3 is nice at home in my reading corner or in front of the TV but in a flight seat, a train etc. a slightly smaller form factor feels like it would be better. Anyway, the added horsepower definitely makes the tablet feel snappier and more responsive. Some apps benefit more than others of course.
The higher resolution screen is also such a joy to use. It is crisp, have excellent colors and is a lot more precise when using it with touch. You can also use the pen whenever you have the need for even more precision which often is sorely needed when running old desktop applications. Flipping between the pen and normal touch is just a matter of picking up the pen and start using it. A nice touch is that if you push the button at the top of the pen (just like you would do when readying an ordinary ballpoint pen) One Note automatically pops up ready to take notes.
One thing that I had not given much though was the WiFi connection. Anything mobile that I had used connected to my router (which is a pretty good one) connected at best using basic 802.11n speeds. I was therefore, well not shocked but at least very pleasantly surprised, when I just had quick spin through the network settings and noticed that the tablet had connected to my router at a speed of 720(!) Mbps. Actually, if found out later that, if I am close enough to the router it goes even higher than that. Obviously the tablet have enough hardware to handle all the multi-stream etc. performance enhancements that my router provides.
The build quality of the tablet itself is excellent. It’s metal chassis gives it a nice sturdiness and it feels solid in your hand without feeling excessively heavy, at least not for me. The only thing I miss so far is that it would have been nice to be able to stick the pen somewhere on the tablet. Oh, and the tiny power connector feels quite flimsy as well. Apart from that I am a happy Surface Pro 3 owner 🙂 .