Surface 3 Vs. Surface Pro 3: Picking The Right Tablet - InformationWeek

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4/17/2015
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Kelly Sheridan
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Surface 3 Vs. Surface Pro 3: Picking The Right Tablet

The Surface 3, the newest hybrid from Microsoft, packs the hallmarks of Surface Pro 3 into a thinner and lighter device.
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Microsoft is aiming to broaden the scope of its Surface customer base with the arrival of Surface 3, which was announced in March 2015 and will ship in May. The device certainly has potential for universal appeal, with full Windows functionality packaged in a thinner and lighter design. 

The Surface 3 was developed as a smaller, more accessible version of its predecessor, the Surface Pro 3, intended for students and mobile professionals who don't need the Pro's extended capabilities. It comes with a thinner screen, a more lightweight structure, and a lower price. Surface 3 will run you $500 to start, about $300 less than the Pro.

If you want to take full advantage of the Surface 3 capabilities, however, you'll have to shell out a bit more. External accessories include the detachable keyboard, or Type Cover, for $130, and the Surface Pen, for $50.

Personally, I don’t understand why the Type Cover has to be separate. I can't imagine using either Surface without a keyboard, and isn't this supposed to be a laptop replacement anyway? But I digress.

[Microsoft Zero-Day Bug Being Exploited In The Wild]

A big chunk of the inspiration for Surface 3 came from customers. "[They said,] 'Give me everything that's in the Pro 3 but make it even thinner, even lighter and even more portable,'" said Microsoft's Brian Eskridge, senior manager for the Surface line, in an interview with InformationWeek earlier this month.

On the surface (zing!), there isn't much difference between the two. The Surface 3 has a 10.8-inch display, which is noticeably smaller than the 12-inch Pro screen but offers a 1920x1280 resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio. The screen has also been revamped to improve digital pen use, Eskridge explained.  

Other hardware features were taken directly from the Pro, including USB 3.0 port, micro-USB 2.0 port, microSD slot, and mini DisplayPort. Its type cover has a shorter key-throw, said Eskridge, and comes in a wider range of colors including red, slate gray, burgundy, purple, and light and dark blue. 

Surface 3 is a bit slower than the Pro, with 85% of its performance, which isn't a bad trade. I found it to be pretty speedy. It does offer 10 hours of battery life on video playback, said Eskridge, which is more than the Pro can handle.

Microsoft is killing Windows RT with the Surface 3, which will ship running Windows 8.1 with the promise of Windows 10 upgradability later this summer. The less expensive model has 2GB of RAM for $500, but you can upgrade to 4GB of RAM for a $600 device. An LTE version is expected to launch later this year.

Right now, it's time to take a closer look at the Surface 3, both on its own and next to the older Pro model. After you are done with the InformationWeek review, let us know what you think in the comments section. 

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
4/30/2015 | 10:40:35 PM
Re: Surface 3 vs Surface 3 Pro
@Kelly22 – I believe that Microsoft should give the type cover and the dock along with the Surface pro 3. I can't think of a reason why they haven't included these to the package as these are not much costly items compared to the surface pro 3 itself. 
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
4/30/2015 | 10:37:13 PM
Re: Surface 3 vs Surface 3 Pro
@SaneIT – I feel Surface Pro 3 is more of a Laptop replacement and not a tablet. Compared to other tablets is much more thick and larger in size. But the good news is that you could have your laptop replacement wherever you go. 
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
4/30/2015 | 10:33:33 PM
Re: Surface 3 vs Surface 3 Pro
@SaneIT –I agree. If your are hoping to get  your hands on Surface pro 3 you should probably get the entire set of accessories. When budgeting for an upgrade you need to have this in mind. 
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
4/30/2015 | 10:31:02 PM
Re: Surface 3 vs Surface 3 Pro
@SaneIT –I think it's a wonderful idea to have a type cover that's could be separated when needed. Even carrying the type cover with the Surface Pro is not a big hassle. 
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
4/22/2015 | 3:55:02 PM
Re: inspiration
@mak63 all features included, yes you're paying a pretty penny. The question is, will all Surface customers need/want those extra features? My thoughts are, probably not. Students would probably go for the Type Cover, maybe the extra RAM; same for mobile workers (since most workplaces/schools have WiFi, they could forego the LTE and save $$). The pen is great to have, but you can have a functional tablet/laptop without one.
LEdwardsAK
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LEdwardsAK,
User Rank: Strategist
4/20/2015 | 7:04:33 PM
Re: Surface 3 vs Surface 3 Pro
@PROGMAN2000: You don't need a keyboard or stylus to run one much like you don't need keyboard with an iPad but you optimize your experience with them. That said I agree with the reviewer that the Type cover by Microsoft is the best option out there and the stylus rocks if you are someone who will use a stylus. So question for the type cover in tablet is the same you would have for A keyboard need for any tablet solution. The answer depends on your expected use. While I would say yes, someone else might say no, if they needed it they could just connect to USB or Bluetooth one they already have. The Type Cover gives you the mobile option with a backlit keyboard, it's a premium option at a premium $130 price. If it fits you need and you want keyboard and are willing to pay that price great, otherwise you can choose another keyboard option that is cheaper. The stylus is another choice, and if you are a person who doodles, draws, artistic, and/or handwrites notes then this option maybe for you. If you don't then why buy it? The Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 gives you a ton of options that includes third party solutions at different price points. My question is what fits with you and what do you want it to do? To be honest my Surface 3 purchase includes both Type Cover and Stylus. That's my choice to fill my needs, what is yours?
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
4/20/2015 | 4:44:49 PM
inspiration
A big chunk of the inspiration for Surface 3 came from customers.  [They said,]
'Give me everything that's in the Pro 3 but make it even thinner, even lighter and even more portable"

Let me add: and cheaper, a lot cheaper. $300 is just a start.
I really don't know where Microsoft gets these prices, but they look a little too much for me.
Keyboard/Type Cover $130
Surface Pen                $ 50
2 extra GB of RAM      $100
LTE                               $200 ?
How much are we really paying for a well rounded Surface? $1000?
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
4/20/2015 | 4:00:06 PM
Re: Surface 3 vs Surface 3 Pro
@LEdwardsAK You're right in saying that both Surfaces are nice machines with or without the Type Cover. When you're on the go, the on-screen keyboard works well and there are other third-party keyboard solutions, though none quite as nice as Microsoft's.

That said, the Surface 3 was designed as a less-expensive hybrid device for students and mobile professionals, who might reconsider when they find out they have to shell out an extra $180 for a type cover and stylus - or go hunting for a keyboard after they purchase. At that point, some might opt for a less expensive laptop instead. I hope we do see some more bundle deals from retailers, because I think that could boost the appeal for budget-conscious customers.
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
4/20/2015 | 8:51:06 AM
Re: Surface 3 vs Surface 3 Pro
Interesting.  You've kind of made me rethink the Surface, I am in a weird "need to get a new tablet" place.  Having to buy the keyboard as an add on does kind of kill it though.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
4/20/2015 | 8:16:57 AM
Re: Surface 3 vs Surface 3 Pro
I can't say that I've seen 10 hours of battery life under the pressure I put on it. It does have a surprisingly good life though when considering its size.  I don't' have any trouble traveling with it and working from airports without the fear of an early battery death.  If a couple little issues were fixed the battery life could be much better.  I still haven't figured out if it is something with my particular unit or how I use it but it has a tendency to wake up in my bag and say one.  I've taken it out many mornings and it's hot and the battery is very low (good thing for that 10 hour claim right).  I've tried making sure the power button isn't accidently being tapped, that nothing is set to wake it up, etc.  It also seems to be missing some of the power options so I'm not sure if that's a side effect from upgrading from Win 8 to 8.1 or if they intended to take those options away, there isn't any real clear documentation on the issue.  Aside from those power issues and the incredibly loud fans when I'm really pushing it I have no complaints about its capabilities or its battery life.
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