- 3:2 aspect ratio offers plenty of screen real estate
- Generally smooth and quick performance
- Thin and lightweight when compared to laptops
- Loud and hot when playing games
- Highly reflective display
- Keyboard attachment sold separately
The Surface Pro 3, Microsoft's third hybrid tablet/laptop, brings with it several changes. The most noticeable upgrade is the display size. At 12 inches, it is 1.4 inches larger than its predecessor and sports a 2160x1440 resolution. Despite the above full HD resolution, its pixel density is actually lower than the MacBook pro with Retina at 216ppi. While reviewers did notice a slight lack of clarity in comparison, they still say describe the resolution as top-notch. They also point out that the new 3:2 aspect ratio affords more screen real estate and makes the tablet feel more like a notepad in portrait mode. Due to the high resolution and aspect ratio, critics warn that small icons or buttons are difficult to press though the issue is slightly rectified with the trackpad and stylus. They also add that the screen is highly reflective due to the glossy screen coating.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 shares the same magnesium body as previous models but offers a new and improved kickstand for ease of use. Previous Surfaces only had a couple angles users could lock into but the Pro 3 offers a friction hinge that allows an angle between 22 degrees and 150 degrees. Experts enjoyed the flexibility as it made it much easier for them to switch between working at a desk to on their lap. It is also incredibly thin at 0.35 inches and, when compared to laptops, is light at 798 grams. Unfortunately, in order to actually use it as a laptop, users must purchase the keyboard component separately. The Type Cover keyboard features backlit physical keys and attaches to the Pro 3 via a magnetic strip. For the most part, reviewers were fairly underwhelmed with the keyboard with The Verge stating, "It…doesn't feel quite as good as a proper laptop keyboard, but part of that is the plastic, clackety noise it makes…"
In order to compete as both a tablet and laptop, the Surface Pro 3 features top-of-the-line internal hardware. There are three different versions of the Pro 3: i3, i5 and i7. Even the lowest end impressed critics with Digital Spy stating, "Even the most budget Surface Pro 3 will make most devices feel sluggish." The i3 model offers 4GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage while the i7 has 8GB and 512GB. Benchmark tests place the Surface Pro 3 above other hybrids like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro and even laptops like the HP Spectre Ultrabook. During actual tests, reviewers found performance to be very snappy and smooth though there was some slight sluggishness during games. When using it intensively, experts noticed that the fans would get incredibly loud and the metal surface would reach, as Tech Radar puts it, "scorching levels of heat." Besides getting loud and hot, reviewers discovered that the battery would also drain in around 8 hours, which they note is good but doesn't stack up to 12-hour battery life of the MacBook Air or even the iPad Air, which lasts 10 hours.
Though Microsoft touts the Pro 3 as the single-device replacement for a laptop and tablet, reviewers aren't quite as optimistic. Digital Spy states, "The Surface Pro 3 proves you can have an incredibly powerful portable computer in a slim form-factor…Sadly…a laptop is nearly as portable while an iPad or Nexus 5 are cheaper." The Guardian adds, "…while the Surface Pro 3 is lovely…I don't think it's going to give Lenovo, or Apple, any sleepless nights."
What the Critics Are Saying...
- John P., GeekBeat
So I’m giving it a Geek Beat Editor’s Choice award because it’s lightweight, it’s fast, it has a beautiful screen, a magnificent keyboard, a super geeky stand, a bad ass docking station option, fantastic touch responsiveness, a sweet pen for writing on the screen… and...
- Callum Tennent, What Mobile
There’s no denying that the Surface Pro 3 is a very well-featured device. From software to hardware, and even design, the Surface Pro 3 is a wonderful piece of kit. For once it’s nice being able to review a Microsoft device without having to mention the Windows operating system as a draw...
- Mike Lowe, Pocket-lint
So is the Surface Pro 3 the "laptop killer" it claims to be? It's not out and out murder, not even manslaughter really, more a viable laptop alternative with full Windows 8.1 that will suit a certain audience.Just like its earlier Surface predecessors, the Pro 3 still sits on the fence with what exa...
- Michael Grothaus, Know Your Mobile
There’s a Surface Pro 3 for almost every budget. Sure the higher-end Surface Pro 3 looks expensive when compared to an iPad, but remember the Surface Pro 3 is not a tablet competitor. It’s for people who want a powerful laptop that also has all the advantages of a tablet.I wasn’t a...
- Sasha Muller, PC Pro
The Surface Pro 3 is a terrific Windows tablet that does a passable impression of a laptop – if that balance suits your needs, then the cost may be well worth it. But if all you really want is a regular laptop, then, with deference to Microsoft’s marketing claims, you should probably sav...
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