I’ve been a hybrid Mac and PC user for years who tries to pack light when it comes to traveling with devices but it hasn’t always been so easy. With tablets becoming more and more powerful, I’m feeling less like I’m giving up on capabilities for portability plus thoughtfully designed accessories make it easier to be productive whether at home or on the go.
I’m fortunate that I get to test a lot of the latest and greatest devices but doing so makes me a picky consumer when it comes to ones for my personal use. One of my longtime favorites is the Surface. Years ago I started out with the Surface RT (the original Surface) that got a lukewarm response from consumers but I liked it because of One Drive functionality that allowed me to work on and access documents when working on my Mac, PC, or Surface. Since the introduction of the Surface RT, subsequent models have been a dramatic improvement over the original. Billed as a tablet that can replace your laptop, Surface has become so much better than other products that my iPad gathers dust on a shelf and my iPad mini rarely sees the light of day.
Surface Pro vs Surface 3
Surface Pro 3 launched first in June 2014 and Surface 3 just came out this spring. At first glance, the main differences are price and size but there are subtle differences when you take a closer look. Here’s a rundown of some of the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 specs:
Why did Microsoft create the Surface 3 after the release of the Surface Pro 3?
According to Stuart Pitts, who came to talk to us at the Champions Summit in Seattle last month, Microsoft took everything people loved about the Pro 3 and added them to the 3 at a lower price point.
If you’re not sure what to get, narrow your choices with this very useful 6 question Find Your New Surface quiz from Microsoft is designed to help you select the best Surface for your needs.
Still not sure how the two stack up? Read the following comparisons:
- Surface 3 vs Surface Pro 3: Microsoft Tablet Showdown on PCMag
- Microsoft Surface 3 vs Surface Pro 3: What’s the Difference? on Forbes.com
Reasons to Love the Surface 3
1. Thoughtfully Designed
One thing that stuck out from me about my time with Microsoft was how each team really listens to customer feedback to create a better product. The Office team shared stories about how providing a consistent experience across devices that reflected the product but contained the signature elements that users loved were essential to the development of Office for Tablet. Rachel from the Surface Design Team shared the practical side of designing the Type Cover to ensure that the keyboard side of the cover would provide a comfortable palm experience but the importance of having fabric that would be resistant to oils, lotion, and dry skin rubbing off on it. Gross, I know!
The same holds true for the Surface Team. Using customer feedback to build a better product explains why there is a Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3. Consumers wanted to keep features such as the 3 favorite angles for the kickstand, USB ports, ability to connect to external monitor, and accessories like the magnetic Type Cover but in a model at a lower price point.
One other thing that consumers asked for was one less charger to keep track of. The Surface Pro 3 has a magnetic charger that is proprietary to the device whereas feedback from consumers drove Microsoft to develop the Surface 3 with a micro USB. Hooray for a Surface that will charge with a plug that we all have in our homes!
2. Power Plus Portability
After years of lugging around my laptop, I’m beginning to think my shoulders and back are appreciating the portability of my Surface Pro 3. Gone are the days where a decent screen size can only be found in a laptop. My Surface Pro 3 has a 12” screen and is a featherweight at 1.76 lbs yet it’s still a powerful computing device that allows me to multitask, connect to the cloud quickly, and access all the documents I need at all times. Plus it’s slim enough to tuck in any bag as-is, with theType Cover, or in its protective sleeve. I bought myself an Inateck Envelope Case ($16.99) for my Surface Pro 3 after seeing fellow Office Champions Kent and Caanan from No Vacation Required with theirs in Seattle!
3. Access Documents Across Devices and Platforms
Remember how I said I’m a hybrid Mac, PC, and Surface user? Working across devices has never been easier thanks to OneDrive, OneNote, and Office 365, aka the Trifecta of Awesome. I’m often working on my Mac or PC in my office but when it’s time to pick up the kids from school, I grab my Surface and head out the door. With my Surface in hand, I can continue working. I can use the Trifecta of Awesome to access and edit drafts of the week’s blog posts through OneDrive. Notes from client calls, brainstorms about a new project in Haiti, and inspiration that comes even when I only have my iPhone in hand can be opened through OneNote. And when I get home? Everything is where it should be so my work is as seamless as it should be.
For $99/year, the Office 365 subscription is well worth it especially because it comes with 1TB of OneDrive space that’s important for working across devices and platforms with your Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3. For a great look at cloud storage options, read the Cloud Storage Showdown where Kent and Caanan give you the run down on Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, and Dropbox. They share what they like and where each falls short on No Vacation Required.
4. Snap the Last App to Multitask
When I’m at home, I plug my laptop into a 32” monitor and always have multiple windows open while I work. Most tablets don’t allow you to have more than one window open on a screen at a time but multitasking on a Surface is easy- just snap to switch between your open apps! Here’s a quick look at how to do it!
Sliding your finger from the left edge brings up a second app and if you’d like to view it alongside your current document, simply drag it to the left or right side of your screen and let go. You can also open a list of recently used apps or adjust the size of the apps by simply moving the line between the apps. Divide the screen equally in half or if you prefer a narrow pane, one app can occupy a third of the screen space while the other uses the larger two thirds.
5. Personalized Experience
Being able to customize my Surface in a number of different ways makes the product all about me. During the recent Champions Summit in Seattle, we Office Champions heard from Rachel from the Surface Design team and one thing that really resonated with me is how the team takes a human approach to design when it comes to the Surface. Not only can you put tiles for the content you want right on your home screen and size them to your liking but you can also design and print skins for your Surface at the Microsoft Store while selecting a Type Cover in a color of your choosing because as Rachel said, “At the end of the day, you’re a designer.”
6. Must-Have Accessories to Customize Your Surface and Increase Productivity
Accessories make the Surface your own while enhancing productivity. Here are some that I love using and others that I covet:
- Type Cover ($129)— The Type Cover is a dream to type on, comes in a wide variety of colors, and is a dream to touch. It’s comfortable with keys that provide just the right amount of feedback to feel good under your fingertips and is slim enough to not add extra weight or heft to the device when magnetically attached.
- Arc Touch Mouse ($49.99)— This highly portable mouse is a must-have because it goes from flat to curved, making it a portable yet comfortable device that fits my hand perfectly. The sleek design doesn’t have any moving parts. Just touch, tap, and flick to navigate to where you want to go on the screen and the fact that it works on different surfaces from my matte desk, glossy kitchen countertops, to the wood picnic tables at the pool? LOVE!
- Surface Pen ($49.99)— Did you know that you can use the Surface Pen to circle and right click (or press and hold) to convert handwritten notes to text? This very cool accessory is one I covet! Here’s how to take notes in your own handwriting and convert them to text!
- Universal Foldable Keyboard ($99)— A Bluetooth keyboard that you can use with multiple devices and will remember the connection to two at a time plus is full size yet folds in half to fit right in your back pocket? Yes, please! There’s nothing that isn’t amazing about this soon-to-be-available accessory. Those of us attending the Champions Summit are chomping at the bit for this amazing little keyboard to come out on July 20!
- Surface Dock ($199)— If you really want to be productive, dock your Surface Pro 3 to transform it into a desktop when you’re in the office and grab it when you need to have a more mobile office.
As a member of #WindowsChamps I receive products for review and am a compensated member of #OfficeChampions. Microsoft paid for my expenses to attend the #ChampionsSummit but all opinions are my own. Images courtesy of Microsoft. Amazon Affiliate links included in this post