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TechCrunch and Others On the Microsoft Surface Pro 3

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the it's-a-thing-you'll-like-or-you-won't dept.

Microsoft 136

TechCrunch's video introduction (not intended as a full review) to the recently introduced Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has mostly good things to say about the device. Reviewer Alex Wilhelm compares it to his MacBook Air, and though he's not sure that the Surface is a better fit for all-day typing than the 11" Air (slightly larger, slightly heavier than the Surface), he says the Surface does a good job of integrating input options (both finger and stylus input) that the Air -- and most laptops -- just don't have. The Washington Post's Hayley Tsukayama also compares the Surface to the Air, rather than to an Android or Apple tablet, writing, "It's heavy for a tablet, sure, but light for a laptop at 1.7 pounds. And while it doesn't have the array of ports that laptops do, you can make do with the two that it does have, a mini-display port that's good for presentations and a USB 3.0 that's good for, well, everything else. You will probably need a hub to get everything you want of this, though. (Or you could go to using Bluetooth accessories, which the Surface Pro 3 will also support.)" Ars Technica has an informative hands-on review as well, but one which parts from these by emphatically describing the Surface as a tablet, not a laptop; Ars reviewer Peter Bright gives high marks for many aspects of the design and materials, though he says his experience with the included pressure-sensitive pen was "problematic." (His initial sample pen had to be replaced, and even when it did work, it lacks tilt sensing.) Troubling for anyone who would prefer to use it as a laptop, Bright says the Surface 3 is better than its forebears but still an awkward fit for using on an actual lap, and that despite the improvements Microsoft's made it therefore isn't quite the system he's looking for.

cancel ×

136 comments

New version, same problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085249)

Costs more than the laptop and tablet it is supposed to replace and not actually better than having seperate units.

I give it credit for the improvements that is has made, but the price is too damn high!

Re:New version, same problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085419)

Almost the same noname chinese tablet with bay trail does not cost more than 300-400 USD. Microsoft should have a Surface offering with Atom.

Re:New version, same problem (3, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 2 months ago | (#47085689)

They have the RT, and it's pretty much the crappy machine you should expect if you're cheap. Having a decent processor makes a huge difference.

Re:New version, same problem (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 months ago | (#47085911)

Which noname Chinese tablet has the Surface Pro 3's (or 2's, or original's) build quality, driver support, touch screen, keyboard cover thingy, etc.
I don't have a Surface (I don't have a tablet or a laptop, either - I use a phone and real desktop) but I've used the original plenty and it's a solid device that no one else is really competing with. If you're going to shit on it at least do so factually.

Re:New version, same problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086413)

"it's a solid device that no one else is really competing with."

Because nobody thinks there is a market for it.

Re:New version, same problem (2, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 months ago | (#47085563)

Let's just get this out of the way:

QUOTE

It's Microsoft, it suxers. It jus sux. in every way it suxxx. it's microsoft, right? it sux right? it sux. Suxxxxeeeerrrr. Sux, right?

OK.

Re:New version, same problem (2)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 2 months ago | (#47085679)

Let's just get this out of the way:

QUOTE

It's Microsoft, it suxers. It jus sux. in every way it suxxx. it's microsoft, right? it sux right? it sux. Suxxxxeeeerrrr. Sux, right?

OK.

It looks like a nice piece of hardware. I'd be tempted to get one. But, like you say, it's Microsoft. Once trust is gone, no argument can bring it back.

Re:New version, same problem (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086167)

Let's just get this out of the way:

QUOTE

It's Microsoft, it suxers. It jus sux. in every way it suxxx. it's microsoft, right? it sux right? it sux. Suxxxxeeeerrrr. Sux, right?

OK.

It looks like a nice piece of hardware. I'd be tempted to get one. But, like you say, it's Microsoft. Once trust is gone, no argument can bring it back.

It is trivial to install Ubuntu on these, everything (including touch support and the pen) 'just works'. So no worries about committing to Windows with these ...
I've owned a Surface Pro 2 for a couple of years, and been very satisfied with the hardware. I've played with a Surface Pro 3, and the hardware feels even better - thinner and lighter (CPU/GPU are identical to the Pro2).

Price is an issue, but as noted endlessly, these are 'tweeners' - much more powerful than any tablet, not quite a full laptop replacement. The 12" screen helps, 10" was definitely not 'laptop-like' ...

Re:New version, same problem (4, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 2 months ago | (#47087049)

Let's just get this out of the way:

QUOTE

It's Microsoft, it suxers. It jus sux. in every way it suxxx. it's microsoft, right? it sux right? it sux. Suxxxxeeeerrrr. Sux, right?

OK.

It looks like a nice piece of hardware. I'd be tempted to get one. But, like you say, it's Microsoft. Once trust is gone, no argument can bring it back.

It is trivial to install Ubuntu on these, everything (including touch support and the pen) 'just works'. So no worries about committing to Windows with these ...
I've owned a Surface Pro 2 for a couple of years, and been very satisfied with the hardware. I've played with a Surface Pro 3, and the hardware feels even better - thinner and lighter (CPU/GPU are identical to the Pro2).

Price is an issue, but as noted endlessly, these are 'tweeners' - much more powerful than any tablet, not quite a full laptop replacement. The 12" screen helps, 10" was definitely not 'laptop-like' ...

That really doesn't matter. It's not about liking or not liking Windows. It's about holding myself responsible for the part I play in empowering companies by giving them my business. Business decisions are the only meaningful political decisions left. I'll travel three times as far and pay twice as much to avoid doing business with people I don't like, and I'll stop at the businesses that I don't like, show them my money, tell them explicitly why they can't have it and leave, just out of spite. That's how I roll.

It's not about efficiency. It's not about who does the job the best. It's not about price. It's about supporting the decent, civic minded people and diminishing the selfish, decadent and exploitative ones.

Re:New version, same problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47087151)

That really doesn't matter. It's not about liking or not liking Windows. It's about holding myself responsible for the part I play in empowering companies by giving them my business. Business decisions are the only meaningful political decisions left. I'll travel three times as far and pay twice as much to avoid doing business with people I don't like, and I'll stop at the businesses that I don't like, show them my money, tell them explicitly why they can't have it and leave, just out of spite. That's how I roll.

It's not about efficiency. It's not about who does the job the best. It's not about price. It's about supporting the decent, civic minded people and diminishing the selfish, decadent and exploitative ones.

And no doubt you posted that from a carbon neutral computer made only out of recycled cardboard and powered only by the choicest free range organic electrons, right?

Re:New version, same problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47087119)

Ubuntu looks like a good alternative. As dual-boot?
Does anyone know if Android will boot on it? Or Cyanogenmod, of course? triple-boot?
And how much hard drive is needed to accomodate these systems. I hear the older surfaces were starved on hard drive space. How much is gobbled by the OS?

Re:New version, same problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085895)

Just because it's made by Microsoft doesn't mean it automatically sucks. Very few people apart from certain folks would suggest that.

HOWEVER, Microsoft as a company has been a very callous, arrogant and standoffish sort with multiple examples of dodgy business practices. Some people might even describe them as evil (which I don't - Hitler was evil, Microsoft aren't in the same league as genocidal killers). Given their history, it's fair to assume some might not want to have anything to do with the company regardless of their output.

Re:New version, same problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085943)

One very annoying thing on the Surface Pro (first generation) is how easy it is to break off the kickstand, and how Microsoft doesn't sell a replacement even though it looks like it was designed to be easily replaced, i.e. a new one would easily screw into the back. But Microsoft wants you to get a whole new refurbished computer. Seems like a complete waste. I broke one of the screw holders in the kickstand, and tried to buy a replacement on e-bay; unfortunately I got an RT kickstand which I thought would be compatible, but it wasn't: it's wider, and has a hinge-type thing that the Pro's kickstand doesn't. The seller will take the return, and said he can order a Pro kickstand for $75. So I might do that, but it seems it could be a lot easier to replace the kickstand.

Re:New version, same problem (-1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 months ago | (#47086679)

HOWEVER, Microsoft as a company has been a very callous, arrogant and standoffish sort with multiple examples of dodgy business practices. Some people might even describe them as evil (which I don't - Hitler was evil, Microsoft aren't in the same league as genocidal killers).

Microsoft tried to kill Linux, by orchestrating the SCO campaign. They didn't try to be better than Linux with their products, no, they just tried to damage Linux with sneaky, dirty tricks. That's technology genocide.

That's why a lot of Slashdot folks are attracted to Microsoft products as Jewish folks are to German products. And you can't really blame either for feeling that way.

Where's Godwin when you need him . . . ?

Re:New version, same problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086847)

.... you have no idea who IBM is do you?

Microsoft missed their calling as a hardware-only (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086139)

Microsoft missed their calling as a hardware-only company.

They always made very nice mice and keyboards.

Surface looks like nice hardware too; and if it had an unlocked bootloader, I'd buy one.

Problem is the software they put on those things.

Re:Microsoft missed their calling as a hardware-on (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086409)

AC because mod points. Only the ARM RT version has a locked bootloader. All the pro models are unlocked, it's part of Microsoft's own specification for x86 devices, which you can read here [microsoft.com]

The exact words (my emphasis) go:

All x86-based Certified For Windows 8 PCs must meet several requirements related to Secure Boot:

They must have Secure Boot enabled by default.

They must trust Microsoft’s certificate (and thus any bootloader Microsoft has signed).

They must allow the user to configure Secure Boot to trust other bootloaders.

They must allow the user to completely disable Secure Boot.

Re:New version, same problem (0)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#47085629)

To me this seems fantastic for somebody who travels often for work. You have all your data and applications one compact device, but when you wind up on a full flight without the room to really fold out a laptop, it's also a tablet.

It seems like a great presentation device also, because you could run something like powerpoint, except more interactive, moving around a bit instead of stuck behind the podium, sketching formulae or annotations on the slides. I see there is Keynote for iPad, but with a number of limitations [apple.com] due to the limitations of the iPad itself or the fact that it's a re-write from the OSX version. And surely writing equations etc. on the screen is much more accurate with a pen than a finger.

Re:New version, same problem (4, Informative)

bondsbw (888959) | about 2 months ago | (#47086033)

Costs more than the laptop OR tablet it is supposed to replace

FTFY. It costs less than buying both separately. And that's the point.

And it integrates with itself better than two devices that are separate. It is usable as both a tablet and a laptop. It is among the more powerful laptops while being the thinnest/lightest x86 tablet. And it runs all Windows desktop apps.

I'm sorry you don't find value in such a device. As for me, it sounds like pretty much what I've been waiting for (and promised by Microsoft) for years.

Re:New version, same problem (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#47086521)

There are some advantages over a laptop, like being able to wake it up like a phone with a tap of the pen and scribble notes. If it cost about 1/3rd the asking price it would be a fantastic product, but at the current price it is a bit niche.

For some reason Surface is really popular in Japan. I think it is business users driving sales, as companies seem to invest a lot in IT over there.

Re:New version, same problem (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 months ago | (#47086685)

If it cost 1/3 the asking price, it'd be a generic Android tablet.

You can't ask for the best specs in its class (tablets), some of the best in its other class (Ultrabooks) AND a low price.

There's a reason your average 400 buck crap laptop from the likes of HP or Dell has a crappy 1366x768 screen and mechanical hard drive.

Should Note (0)

dingl_ (3643599) | about 2 months ago | (#47085259)

It would probably be noted products were not using Final optimized software etc Even the Pen had new Drivers updated just today But looking at other hands-on reviews online, this is definitely replacing my aging laptop, I preordered the 256GB model

But... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085267)

Does it run Linux?

No seriously, does it? I'd be interested in a laptop/tablet-hybrid, running something like KDE Plasma / Plasma Active on it. MS has their ARM-based devices terribly locked-down, but these x86-devices should be (more) open.

Re:But... (3, Informative)

Michalson (638911) | about 2 months ago | (#47085405)

Yes, all 3 generations of Pro can have security turned off in the BIOS to allow a Linux install. But running Linux and actually doing anything aren't the same, there aren't properly configured drivers for a lot of things (as can be common for laptops). Even on the Windows side drivers initially held back the SP1 because Wacom hadn't released a compatible binary. The SP3 uses N-trig for the pen so it might be easier to get working but the Wifi, Bluetooth and even the advanced touch covers have all proven difficult to get working drivers on the SP2 and the hardware seems to be mostly the same in the SP3. You may find yourself with a screen and a USB port and not much else.

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085651)

> You may find yourself with a screen and a USB port and not much else.

So a Chromebook, then?

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086731)

No, that would be stupid for several reasons:
  • Chromebooks are actually locked down [dreamwidth.org] , unlike the Surface Pro
  • Google's Chromebooks actually use the same hardware, including the same WI-Fi card [googlesource.com]
  • There are actually no problems with using Surface Pro 1 or 2 hardware under Linux. Everything works.

Re:But... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085591)

Good question. I guess MS really should have considered the needs to the 1 in 10 that are known to be faggots.

Time for a new name? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085269)

When you've driven a product name into the ground, it's probably time to pick a new name. And no, I don't mean "Surface Pro 3 GOLD" :-)

I know how shitty the old ones were, I won't consider buying anything from Microsoft called "Surface" -- ever. Pick a new name if you want me to consider buying one.

Re:Time for a new name? (3, Insightful)

war4peace (1628283) | about 2 months ago | (#47085335)

Wow. Is the NAME that important?
I don't care if it's called Zhiang Zhun Chi or Apple iMcProAir. I care about whether it's solidly built, has good battery life and allows me to use the same software I use on my laptop. I also couldn't care less if the brand name has a history of unfortunate releases. Maybe they learned from their mistakes. if reviews are good and I like it during the 30 days I am allowed to return it, why not keep it?

Shunning a product simply because you don't like the name is retarded.

Re:Time for a new name? (1, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 months ago | (#47085451)

The Surface Pro 1 was excellent. Read the reviews and discussion here even at the time it came out or the comparisons of Windows 8 laptops where it was right in there with the best (example Lenovo). The Surface wasn't very good and pairing the name was frankly confusing to customers since the Surface Pro and the Surface didn't have much in common, as your post shows.

Re:Time for a new name? (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 months ago | (#47085477)

The discussion around the other two had raving fans as well. But the sales were not good.

Re:Time for a new name? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 months ago | (#47085699)

4Q2013 $893m
3Q2013 $400m
Surface 1 did about $1b total

That's a pretty consistent 80-120% growth quarter over quarter. How are sales not good for a new product?

Re:Time for a new name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086073)

Good or bad but it doesn't really matter. Sooner or later people will all buy what MS has to offer when they need to upgrade their laptops and there really are no other options.

Re:Time for a new name? (1)

plover (150551) | about 2 months ago | (#47085701)

As good as the Surface Pro 1 was, the Surface Pro 2 is even better. I'd love to swap up my Pro 2 for a Pro 3, but not without a good trade in deal.

Re:Time for a new name? (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 months ago | (#47085647)

I know how shitty the old ones were, I won't consider buying anything from Microsoft called "Surface" -- ever.

Most of the reviews for the Surface Pro have been good. See this for example [penny-arcade.com] . The primary drawback that I've always seen mentioned is price.

For $400 a lot of people would like this tablet, but at $800 for the cheapest [microsoftstore.com] , it becomes less interesting. On the supply and demand curve, they just pushed demand down by increasing the price.

Re:Time for a new name? (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 months ago | (#47086693)

For 400 bucks, you can't even buy the processor, screen, battery, SSD and RAM.

Seriously, you have to be realistic.

How about (4, Funny)

justthinkit (954982) | about 2 months ago | (#47085951)

How about Surface Pro 3 Update 1?

Trying to be Apple. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085277)

Stop it, Microsoft. It's sad.

Re:Trying to be Apple. (0)

SpryGuy (206254) | about 2 months ago | (#47085877)

Thinner... lighter... better screen... impressive touch and pen support... and a full PC... tons of innovation, and listening to feedback and acting on it in a very timely manner. Yeah, Microsoft, just cut that out (rolling eyes).

Tilt Support? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085303)

From TFA:

"The pen doesn't include the tilt/orientation support that the high-end Wacom pens support. In this regard, it's no different from the previous Surface Pros, as they didn't appear to have tilt support either. If this is a feature you want in a tablet, you'll have to fork out for one of Wacom's extraordinarily expensive Cintiq devices."

Anyone expected pressure-senility and tilt support for under $2k?

Re:Tilt Support? (1, Interesting)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 months ago | (#47085481)

Well, to be honest.... yes?

Maybe there's patents at play when it comes to 'a hand-held input device as used on a rectangular surface', but tilting things is pretty commonplace ever since the smartphone. Hell, my flashlight has tilt support via a 3-axis accelerometer.

Though there are more fundamental issues for those who would use it for drawing, though - check out the short opinion piece on the Surface Pro 3 at Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] . tl;dr: The new main (windows logo) button tends to get bumped into fairly easily by right-handed people, and turning the screen around 180 degrees hampers the use of the kickstand.

Re:Tilt Support? (5, Informative)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 2 months ago | (#47085547)

The GP is talking about Wacom's support for detecting the tilt angle (and other parameters) of the pen on their more sophisticated tablets. This isn't done with accelerometers but through extra signal processing in the sensor array which permits a battery-less pen. Wacom has all the relevant patents on this. They just don't want competition for Cintiq.

Re:Tilt Support? (2)

guises (2423402) | about 2 months ago | (#47085853)

No kidding. Wacom's patents and their resulting monopoly are the only reason why they can charge two freaking thousand dollars for something that might go for six hundred in a competitive market.

Re:Tilt Support? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086137)

No kidding. Wacom's patents and their resulting monopoly are the only reason why they can charge two freaking thousand dollars for something that might go for six hundred in a competitive market.

Your $600 estimate is interesting, because it's pretty close. There are actually some decent non-wacom pen displays around now, usually in the $600 to $1000 range, and one outlier at $400. They mostly use UC-logic tech for the pressure input, and are largely differentiated by the other hardware used, like TN or IPS displays, screen size, resolution, etc.

I have the $400 one from monoprice, and while it's nowhere near the quality of a cintiq, it's affordable and still extremely nice to use once you get around the horrible fucking driver issues. Even works in Linux; in fact, for multi-monitor use, it's easier to set up in Linux.

Maybe with time these will mature and provide pressure on Wacom, driving prices down a bit. Wacom's stuff is good but they could be better with some competitive pressure that they currently don't feel due to owning most of their market.

Re:Tilt Support? (1)

guises (2423402) | about 2 months ago | (#47086479)

Huh. Good to know, thanks. Last time I checked there weren't any other alternatives at all, other than tablets.

Re:Tilt Support? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086637)

Huh. Good to know, thanks. Last time I checked there weren't any other alternatives at all, other than tablets.

There still aren't many alternatives, but it's improving. I try to keep up because I've been drooling over the cintiqs for a very long time, but never could justify the cost. I know of three alternatives currently:

* Yiynova [yiynova.com] is the first (I think), and has been branching out. They mostly use UC-Logic digitisers, price range of $600+ for the decent ones. The 18" is TN for ~$600. The 22" is the only 1920x1080 I know about, and is IPS, but costs closer to $900.

Only way to get them seems to be through Amazon. Avoid the small 10" ones despite how tempting they seem; they use displaylink for VGA-over-USB and it seems to not go well for users..

* Next is the Huion GT-190 [huiontablet.com] , which is a more recent entry. ~$600, 19" @ 1366x768, supposedly works well but I haven't seen much information on it. Uses UC-Logic digitiser as wel.

* The most recent one is by Monoprice [monoprice.com] , and is the one I have. Also 19", and is actually built on Huion's tech. It even uses the same basic Huion driver (rebranded), but you can also use Huion's own drivers, and they both use the same one in Linux.
This one's $400, 1440x900 display, and has the worst viewing angles of the bunch. Has vesa mount points (not sure about the others), DVI output, and is quite nice, especially for the price. You just have to get used to dealing with the viewing angles and learn to check colours on a better display. Still, it's insanely nice to have a pen display at the cost.

---

They all have their pros and cons, and none have tilt support, but the pressure sensitivity and LPI on the UC-logic stuff is good, at least on par with the Intuos4 I have. Huion's drivers aren't as strong as the Wacom ones, but they do support Linux pretty well (use the DigiMend [github.com] version instead of the kernel provided driver, though. Works better).

Oh, and they all use batteries in the pens, because it's not the same technology as Wacom's EMR-based digitiser. Some use actual changeable batteries, while others use rechargeable ones. Mine lasts quite a while between charges and recharges quickly, so it's not a huge problem.

Also, a nice thing about the Huion-based ones is the pens are supposed to be interchangeable, so if you don't like the one that comes with your display you can buy a different pen, or a cheap huion tablet with a pen you like more, and just use it instead. This also means information about driver workarounds and other software issues should be similar across devices, so the explanation given in Monoprice's review by one owner for setting up the device in Linux and Windows should work for Huion's display as well. (May also be partly applicable to Yiynova's, since it's still uc-logic hardware)

A good place to get some info on the various alternatives is frenden.com [frenden.com] , it's the site of a guy that's interested in, and reviews, a lot of the wacom-alternative stuff (along with some wacom devices). Oh, there's actually a fourth pen display maker, Bostco, but I've only seen it mentioned Frenden's site and he couldn't even use it to review...Not really worth mentioning except in passing.

The cintiq alternatives seem to be popular (for obvious reasons), so there's a good chance the companies moving in on Wacom's turf will keep making new models, maybe with better displays, resolutions, etc. Despite their flaws, they're awesome to have; I haven't even touched my Intuos since getting my pen display.

Sorry if this ended up rambling a bit. I tried to put a lot of information in and some of it didn't segue well.

Re:Tilt Support? (1)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about 2 months ago | (#47086285)

To be fair, the wacom pen in the SP2 doesn't support tilt either. To get that you need to go with their pro line of pens like the Intuos or Cintiq.

Re:Tilt Support? (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 months ago | (#47086489)

Yes, and what I'm saying is, they don't necessarily need to use that same technology - but perhaps the patents cover the general use case. If not - make it a powered pen, tech's come far enough that that shouldn't be an issue other than a negative review point of "pen's a bit heavier than I'd like", but with the positive review point of "has tilt support".

Re:Tilt Support? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 months ago | (#47086697)

Your reading comprehension needs serious work before you try to be a smartass.

Re:Tilt Support? (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 months ago | (#47086717)

Could you 1. explain what part of GP's question I failed to comprehend and 2. explain what part of my reply came across as trying to be a smartass?

Re:Tilt Support? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 months ago | (#47087011)

1) You talk about tilt support from accelerometers, which has nothing at all to do with what you're replying to.

2) "Well, to be honest... yes?" No device has ever had it at these prices, so there's nothing to expect.

Re:Tilt Support? (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 months ago | (#47087113)

Are you saying that accelerometers have nothing to do with calculating the tilting angle of a device, or that the tilting referred to in a pen+tablet combination such as the Wacoms is a wholly different type of tilting?

Point 2 may hinge on the above.

Also important to read Penny Arcade take (4, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 months ago | (#47085323)

Don't miss the Penny Arcade Surface Pro 3 feedback [penny-arcade.com] , as it gives some good solid thoughts on usability hiccups - which it sounds like Microsoft is going to great lengths to address quickly.

His take is especially interesting because he uses it heavily for art.

Re:Also important to read Penny Arcade take (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085351)

PA's article was literally the best, most honest review I've read in a very long time.

I absolutely love my SP2 Pro and will be looking seriously at upgrading. There is no comparison between it and other tablets, as it does so much more. It really is a laptop/desktop replacement for typical professionals and definitely beyond what most students would need. Hell, I have played Dark Souls, Diablo 3 and League of Legends on it without issues, so even gamers will find it fits them to get their fix while on the road.

Re:Also important to read Penny Arcade take (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 months ago | (#47085589)

It's great for not only art. I've got the SP2 and use it extensively in music production and performance.

There is no other tablet that can run a full version of DAW software. There's nothing like using a pen to edit a waveform or to write a effect control curve.

I don't really care how many of them they sell as long as they keep making 'em. I'm not the average business user but I love mine. I do not understand why there is no Mac tablet with Intel inside.

Re:Also important to read Penny Arcade take (5, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 months ago | (#47085979)

I might have to try that, then - I'd never considered using it for that, but now that I think about it, all I'd need is a USB hub and audio adapter. If I ever get to the point of doing shows, I might have to get one.

Does anybody else find it a bit ironic that Microsoft's tablets seem to be fitting into the niche Apple's desktops once did? Being used most prominently for art and audio production? That seems to be the niche Surface fits into, while Apple and Google are making more general-purpose, lower-cost devices.

Re:Also important to read Penny Arcade take (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 2 months ago | (#47085989)

But it's not the case.

Microsoft isn't overtaking Apple in this niche.

Re:Also important to read Penny Arcade take (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086255)

But it's not the case.

Microsoft isn't overtaking Apple in this niche.

They already have son.

Re:Also important to read Penny Arcade take (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 2 months ago | (#47086359)

Uh huh.

Re:Also important to read Penny Arcade take (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 months ago | (#47086689)

Uh huh.

If they're not overtaking Apple, they're certainly starting to show up in a lot more professional audio facilities. Studios and post facilities that used to be 100% Apple now all seem to have added PCs. It's strange and I don't really know what explains it, but I've seen a steady increase in the number. Also, Linux boxes for doing remote effects processing, rendering and sample streaming.

I'm just talking audio now, but Microsoft seems to be creeping back in there, from what I see.

Re:Also important to read Penny Arcade take (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086739)

Apple lost any competitive advantage in the music/art scene years ago; the only thing that kept them in the game was inertia and a culture that just accepted you needed a Mac to do anything creative. Adobe CS and Cubase (for example) have been out on PC and had feature parity for 5-10 years now.

Sort of like Windows in the corporate culture.

Re:Also important to read Penny Arcade take (3, Interesting)

ganjadude (952775) | about 2 months ago | (#47086963)

Ive noticed this over the past 5 years or so that more and more pro quality tools are being designed for windows only. I havent figured out the reaosn why, Id argue licensing as Im sure apple wants their 30% cut so people just starting making the hardware for windows because the software tools are now up on par with what apple has had for so long

Re:Also important to read Penny Arcade take (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#47086593)

I'm surprised Apple has not released a pen for the iPad. They go on about how wonderful the touch screen is but then make you operate it with your giant blunt fingertip. I think it must be an ideological thing - Jobs rejected pens early on in the iPad and iPhone development cycles.

I beg to differ (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085325)

It's an improvement upon the SP2, and we have not one, but TWO developers using them here as their primary desktop.

8GB ram, Core i5, reasonable (if limited in variety) connectivity options. These guys are developing significant C++ code (~1.4mil lines of code over 30 or so projects with a total build time for ~3 hours from scratch, ironically they're compiling everything from scratch in closer to 2 hours, SSD in the SP vs SAS RAID5 our normal workstations use I guess) without any productivity loss, same desktop monitors as their old PCs, same keyboard/mouse, just running on a small tablet.

The only real issue is lack of storage (we do machine learning / computer vision, our test sets are about 3TB worth of video/images/annotations) which can't be stored on these tablets for obvious reasons.

These are plenty usable as replacements for laptops, and in some cases even desktops - if you don't have the need for a high powered GPU.

Re:I beg to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085417)

Did your devs consider the X1 Carbon w/ i7 + SSD ?

It is the same price, has a touchscreen, already has a legendary keyboard, runs linux without issue and is made of carbon fiber composite. It weighs in at just under 3 lbs. so developer biceps should have no issue carrying it.

Re:I beg to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085529)

In Australia, equivalently spec'd SP2's are about $400 cheaper than their X1 Carbon counterparts (i5/8GB/256GB SSD model). At any rate these guys bought them personally, likely as a personal tablet choice before realising they could do real, productive work on them.

At the office we do a lot of hallway testing, and a lot of our target devices are phones/tablets (the rest are embedded systems, not so relevant) - forward and backward facing cameras are kind of necessary for a lot of our use cases (facial tracking front camera scenarios, augmented reality / object detection / scene reconstruction stuff in back camera scenarios) - uploading your latest build to another tablet, doing a second round of local testing (to make sure there's no issues on that platform) before walking around to hallway test isn't nearly as intuitive as just picking up your 'workstation tablet' on a whim when you're happy with what you have.

Re:I beg to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086333)

Did your devs consider the X1 Carbon w/ i7 + SSD ?

It is the same price, has a touchscreen, already has a legendary keyboard, runs linux without issue and is made of carbon fiber composite. It weighs in at just under 3 lbs. so developer biceps should have no issue carrying it.

I have the "old" X1 Carbon Touch w/ i7 and SSD, and I'm very, very happy with it. But, the touchscreen is mostly useless compared to how you can use the Surface Pro, as the keyboard doesn't wrap around or detach. And, unfortunately I think they have ruined it with the new model - the legendary keyboard is gone, and so are normal function keys (F1-F12).

Re:I beg to differ (4, Insightful)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about 2 months ago | (#47085523)

I beg to differ too. For the same (top of the line) price you can get a laptop with a Core I7, 16GB of RAM (if not 32GB), 1TB HDD + MSATA SSD (expandable to a RAID0) and a REAL DEDICATED GPU.

Where is the advantage in having a tablet if they are just leaving it on their desks?

Re:I beg to differ (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085723)

As the guy stated in reply to the previous comment, at a whim hallway testing, productivity improvements being able to test real world use cases on your dev machine (which require front/back cameras - laptops have front only in almost all cases) 'without' having to recompile, re-test, and install on a dev tablet.

and how many office environments do you know that need a dedicated GPU to do their day to day work?

next up, how many laptops do you know handle integrated/dedicated GPU switching effectively enough that it's NEVER a drain on power? (in almost all cases something as simple as displaying a video feed of the webcam engages most dedicated GPUs on both windows and OSX... for what? simply re-scaling an image from the camera and displaying it on the monitor? which the integrated GPU does quite fine at 1/20th the power envelope)

Next up #2, on windows - cl.exe (the compiler MSVC uses) can't even handle using more than 2GB memory to date (and it's still 32bit, so even if you could you're looking at maxing out at 4GB used per file - if you even had any compilation units that were that complex in the first place, which you almost certainly do not) - most workstations don't need 16GB.

Same deal with i7, how many people really need an extra 300mhz at the cost of a HUGE 35W extra - WTF much?

Re:I beg to differ (1)

choseph (1024971) | about 2 months ago | (#47085947)

why don't you use the 64 bit compilers and linkers? Linking is usually where I see the 2GB memory hit with insane numbers of static libs, and I have seen people go well beyond this with the 64 bit linker instead of using the x86_amd64 cross compiler/linker tools. I think you have to install them separately so you may have missed them. way back in vs 2010 here is a thread about it: http://social.msdn.microsoft.c... [microsoft.com] but you should be able to find the 64 bit toolset and info elsewhere.

Re:I beg to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086035)

I think you missed point re: cl.exe - "if you even had any compilation units that were that complex in the first place" implied almost no one is crazy enough to create a CU that includes thousands of headers (or PCH that includes thousands of headers).

My point was very few people are ever going to be using that much memory per CU in the first place - as you said yourself, you "usually" see a 2GB memory limit with the linker (not compiler!) and only with "insane numbers of static libs" (which in itself isn't exactly common practice).

With 8GB of ram, in most scenarios you can safely run 8 parallel compilations at once and stay in physical memory - but the machines in question (SP2/3 and X1 Carbon) are only quad core anyway, so unless you want to thrash your cache under the assumption you're spending more time waiting on IO in your compiler than anything else that it 'might' be better to run more than 4 CUs in parallel, you're never, EVER going to use more than 8GB of ram compiling anything w/ MSVC on windows.

tl;dr - most C++ projects, even large ones, aren't going to need more than 8GB of ram to build.

Re:I beg to differ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085937)

>a REAL DEDICATED GPU.

Do your gaming at home, son; not at work.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 months ago | (#47086705)

For 2 000 bucks, you'd better get more than *that*.

For 1 300 bucks (same as mentioned Surface Pro 2), you get about that, but without the SSD, with Wi-Fi so bad you'll cringe when you figure out it's a signle-stream Broadcom and insane weight.

For a better GPU? That's what my desktop is for.

Quick conclusion (0)

unixisc (2429386) | about 2 months ago | (#47085345)

Surface Pro if you have a boatload of Wintel apps that you need to take w/ you; Air if you don't and OS-X is better than the Metro UI on Windows 8.x. (Not to overlook that the latter's underpinnings are FreeBSD/XNU)

Re:Quick conclusion (1)

SpryGuy (206254) | about 2 months ago | (#47085865)

OSX has no touch screen, no touch capabilities at all, and no direct pen-on-screen support either. For artists that want to sketch on the go, or for students who want to take notes in classes like math where hand-writing is far superior to keyboard, the Mac Air just isn't nearly as good as the SP3. SP3 is lighter and thinner with extra capabilities, and costs about the same. The main drawbacks are the "lapability" (ugh) and keyboard quality... Air definitely wins there. I'd say a writer/blogger would be better off with an Air. But there are definitely niches where the SP3 is just a no-brainer... a great device.

My wife has a gen 1 Surface Pro ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085467)

Not logging in since I got a security certificate warning ...

My wife's Surface Pro is an odd beast. It's fast. Well made. (Largely) free of bloatware (and what little there was, like the Expedia app, was easily defenestrated).

But she rarely uses it as a tablet (says she likes Metro, but doesn't like Windows' habit of bouncing her between Work and Play UIs [Office user], so in went Start8 and ModernMix so she can do her thing exclusively in Work mode). Refuses to use the stylus. If she wants to randomly surf the web she grabs either her phone or an actual tablet. Metro and the touch interface got so in the way of what she needs to do (work away from the office) that she's unlikely to ever willingly use Metro; I don't think she's alone in this. And, for better or worse, Metro is how MS pitched the Surface.

Microsoft faces an uphill battle to get people to work past these entrenched habits and odd (OS-related) design choices.

FWIW, I think MS would've had an easier time with market acceptance of the Surface Pro if the launch of Win 8 / Metro had been better handled. It's very hard to take a tool designed for production (specced and priced like an ultrabook) seriously if it boots into a UI designed for consumption which makes it look like an expensive, chunky iPad. And the situation wasn't helped much with naming confusion with the Surface which is (was?) an iPad competitor.

Re:My wife has a gen 1 Surface Pro ... (2)

SpryGuy (206254) | about 2 months ago | (#47085885)

How did the metro interface get in the way? With Windows 8.1.1, desktop stays in desktop. Did your wife only ever use 8.0? (if so that would explain a lot).

I find Win8.1.1 to be quite functional, usable, stable, and productive. I freely admit that 8.0 was kind of annoying unless you wanted to spend a fair amount of time tweaking and climbing a learning curve. But Win8.1.1 (without any Start8 crutches required) works pretty well.

Re:My wife has a gen 1 Surface Pro ... (2)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about 2 months ago | (#47086297)

I agree. I think a lot of people tried 8 (or read about it) early on and have made up their mind much like happened with Vista. The latest release of win8.1 is really quite good.

Re:My wife has a gen 1 Surface Pro ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086793)

Gen 1 Surface Pro -- 8.1 wasn't even a rumour when she bought the machine.

First impressions and all that. MS's decision to default to Metro (and Metro apps) for, basically, everything antagonized a lot of people who use their machines for productivity ... but don't typically fall into the power user, able to tweak OS settings to their heart's content category. True story: I recently set up user accounts on the family desktop. The login screen is Metro-based; neither my kids nor my wife could figure out how to switch from a locked screen from one user to their own IDs without a demo. That flat-looking arrow doesn't really scream "I'm going to do something incredibly useful" to a bunch of otherwise computer-literate users (my kids have been logging into school PCs since grade 1).

FWIW -- in 8.1, Photos, the Metro app, could still be set as the default program for several times more file types than Windows Photo Viewer through Windows file association utility ... despite Photo Viewer being able to open those files if you set the association through Explorer. You still have to manually fudge settings if you want to, say, preview a RAW photo before editing in ye olde classik desktop. Seriously. RAW photo types. If Metro is made for media consumption, and RAW is, almost by definition, made for production, how does that make sense?

sounds pretty shitty... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085485)

but it's gotta be better than this horrible rapsberry pi i'm using right now, god damn it, you free software fools tricked me again. this shit is slow and awful. 50 dollar computer for browsing the web they said, yeah, maybe the web of 1997. slashdot is the only site the barely works and only after i switched to classic from the shitty ass beta. when i switched to osx and ios from linux i never should have looked back but all the nerdy whining and apsergery hysteria made me want to try the pi, and holy shit it is awful!

So a netbook with a touchscreen? (0)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 months ago | (#47085503)

So a netbook with a touchscreen?
(In Orson Wells voice) ASUS transformers assemble!

Re:So a netbook with a touchscreen? (1, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 months ago | (#47085541)

So a netbook with a touchscreen?

At five times the price.

Re:So a netbook with a touchscreen? (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 2 months ago | (#47085881)

Net books have core i3/5/7 chips?

I thought net books ran on Atom

Re:So a netbook with a touchscreen? (1)

oji-sama (1151023) | about 2 months ago | (#47086799)

2160x1440 resolution isn't all that bad either...

Re:So a netbook with a touchscreen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085637)

Netbooks are nowhere near as highly spec'ed as the Surface Pro. They use Atom chips, have half or a quarter of the RAM, and tend not to come with SSD drives. They also have a keyboard permanently attached.

Re:So a netbook with a touchscreen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085963)

ASUS sells a transformer book or whatever they call it with a detachable keyboard. It's slower, but the tablet part is lighter and doesn't need a kickstand because the keyboard is strong enough to keep it upright when attached.

Re:So a netbook with a touchscreen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086791)

I'm a big fan of the ASUS Transformer, but it is not a netbook.

donchathink (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085585)

MS already has this thing WELL TESTED already! Does anybody REALLY care what some soda-jerk at some erag thinks about this thing he has had for a few hours? Wear it for a few weeks. Take it out to dinnner. Get in bed and snuggle. Then, well, I still don't care WHAT YOU think. You drink Bud and call it beer. You eat fast-food and call it delicious. Apparently. May you stand in line at the VA for a sucking chest woound for all I care about what you think.

its neat but too expensive for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47085681)

I wouldn't spend what it costs to play with it, but i do want to play with it. Once they slash prices to liquidate huge backlogs of stock i'll try it out

Half-breed (1)

roger10-4 (3654435) | about 2 months ago | (#47085735)

Certainly this will fill a niche market, but it's too bulky to replace tablets and too restricted to replace laptops. It seems like one of those products trying to cater to multiple consumer markets but ends up not being satisfactory in any of them.

Backdoors (-1, Flamebait)

Greg666NYC (3665779) | about 2 months ago | (#47086121)

So I will spent $799 for hardware with how many backdoors?

Re:Backdoors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086293)

So I will spent $799 for hardware with how many backdoors?

Just submit a Freedom of Information Act form, I'm sure the NSA will let you know right away. And don't forget to submit one for the backdoors in Apples hardware (they play VERY nicely with them) and android too of course, though android doesn't even pretend to not be anything but malware itself at this point.

No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086171)

The only reason why we're seeing positive reviews all around is because the Cash Cow is paying for them. Microsoft should be going the way of the Dodo as far as I am concerned.

Might be the perfect tablet for academia (5, Interesting)

lazybratsche (947030) | about 2 months ago | (#47086237)

The Surface Pro 3 could be the best tablet I've seen so far to actually substitute for a paper notepad and stack of printed reading material. As a biology graduate student, I can envision several use cases that aren't well served by any other devices:

1) It could be the electronic lab notebook that so many scientists have been waiting for. Even though I use a desktop to write protocols and analyze data, I always end up using paper at the bench. If I write up a protocol, I print a copy so that I can carry it to the bench and scribble notes as I go. Similarly, for small and medium scale data collection, I record the data on a notepad and only later transcribe it to the computer. With OneNote, a good stylus, and a good aspect ratio for portrait, this could conceivably replace the binder full of papers I keep at my lab bench. (Difficulty: is it water and solvent resistant? Can it be covered in plastic without overheating or blocking the touch screen?)

2) This could be the best tablet for reading big stacks of 8.5x11 inch PDFs. It's got the right display size, aspect ratio, pixel density, and again the styles could be pretty handy. A 10" tablet is too small, particularly with a low resolution screen. Fingertips or capacitive styluses are too imprecise for highlighting and note taking. On the other hand, I find reading it tedious to read much on a desktop, even with a good monitor. At 800g, the Surface Pro 3 isn't even that heavy by paper standards: the textbooks I have next to me are 1-3 kg, and I have many stacks of journal articles that weigh more than 1 kg.

3) Finally, it could be a good tablet for the sorts of image manipulation I do. If it's good enough for Gabe at Penny Arcade, it should be more than good enough for my modest needs. I spend a lot of time with Inkscape and Paint.net making figures for presentation and publication. (I even, I am ashamed to admit, use PowerPoint vector graphics more than anyone ever should.) It's never anything fancy, but I bet a good screen and stylus would be faster than doing everything by keyboard and mouse. Plus, I can use all of my usual scientific image processing software, and directly transfer processed images to other programs for further manipulation.

All of these uses are purely as a tablet or desktop replacement. I can't even see much use for the type cover to be honest, I'd rather just use the dock so I can plug in a real keyboard and mouse along with an external monitor.

However, it's way out of my grad-student budget. I'll be waiting for price drops (and other competitors) as I save up enough money. Or perhaps my research advisor has money budgeted for lab computers.

Might be the perfect tablet for academia (1)

Jmstuckman (561420) | about 2 months ago | (#47087159)

If that's what your're looking for, check out the Samsung Ativ Tab 3. It runs full Windows 8 (x86), it has a touchscreen and Wacom stylus, and it's great for reading PDFs. You can find it for well under $400 if you look around, and even better, it's *lighter* than the Surface Pro.

Re:Might be the perfect tablet for academia (1)

pz (113803) | about 2 months ago | (#47087225)

Paper. I have lab notebooks from my undergraduate years (through the present) that I refer to, because it's easy to do so. If I need to find something, and don't recall exactly where it is, a simple flipping of the pages, and I've found it in a matter of seconds.

Call me a luddite, but electronic lab books don't have sufficient usability yet. My post-doc uses one, and he's far less efficient with it (and writes much less as a result) than I am with pen and paper. Importantly, human memory is at least partially (some would argue primarily, and I wouldn't dispute that) visually based, and not having that aspect of where you wrote something on the page, or in what color ink, or with what size handwriting, etc., makes a big difference to usability. The closest I've seen to viable electronic notebooks are the specialized pens that have small internal cameras that require special paper to use. Last I checked, though, they were prohibitively expensive compared to a traditional pen and lab book.

Pen and paper have had thousands of years of development. It's going to take a while longer before the electronic version is usable.

Microsoft is dead. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47086381)

And so are their mobile devices. Nobody uses them. Face it.

Press release. (1)

basecastula (2556196) | about 2 months ago | (#47086453)

Carry on. Don't forget about the numerous /. forks.

3 to 5 versions until usable (-1, Troll)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about 2 months ago | (#47086553)

In typical MicroSoft fashion, it'll take several releases to actually make something usable; this is the 3rd rev and it's almost there. Of course in the end, they'll have 'invented' the laptop :)

Re:3 to 5 versions until usable (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 2 months ago | (#47086719)

In typical smartass fashion, you manage to misspell "Microsoft" (and not even something that's supposed to be funny, like M$), incorrectly employ a semicolon, attribute an Apple characteristic to Microsoft (claiming to have invented something old) and forogt a comma.

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