While we don’t have the full Surface Pro 3 review up yet, I’d figure that it’s worth posting some thoughts on it. For those that didn’t follow our WWDC 2014 live blog, around an hour before the event Anand handed me the Surface Pro 3 review unit to write the text portion of that article. While I’ve used a Surface Pro 2 before, this was my first encounter with the Surface Pro 3, and I decided to try and use it for the liveblog.

In short, it was surprisingly usable, although there are a few caveats. These issues basically come down to a lack of polish, as I encountered some strange bugs throughout the day as I tried to write things down.

The first and single most irritating issue is the trackpad, which has a tendency to activate while typing. This usually means that I would end up clicking a previous line and an entire sentence would be inside of another word in a sentence. This broke the flow of typing quite often.

Second, I often encountered another odd issue that seemed to force the alt-key to be constantly activated, which meant I couldn’t write text, and fixing this required removing the keyboard dock and then attaching it again.

Third, the kickstand is noticeable due to the thin area that it distributes weight upon. This puts pressure on a specific area which can leave marks, although I didn’t have a problem with this. I also noticed that the wake latency isn’t as fast as an ARM-based tablet, although it’s certainly not the 10-20 second wake latency that I’ve come to expect on my hard drive-based desktop.

Other than some bugs, the experience with Surface Pro 3 was far better than I expected. It was far and away faster than typing on a tablet, although some of the bugs kept me from typing as quickly and accurately as I would on a laptop. The display size was generally comfortable as well, although Chrome’s lack of HiDPI support was definitely a major disadvantage to comfortable reading. The weight of the tablet was surprisingly low, and didn’t really bother me at all. The thermals of the unit were also under control, with no noticeable hotspots on the tablet. I suspect that web browsing isn’t a particularly intensive load in this case, as I don’t recall hearing the fan either.

The adjustable kickstand is also great for finding comfortable positions, and I never really felt that the tablet was at risk of falling off of my lap or on to my fingers. The magnetic strip above the type cover was also great to help elevate the keyboard, although I found that this is mostly helpful in cases where the loss in keyboard rigidity isn’t noticeable. I also didn’t struggle with the new placement of the Windows home button, and I found that swipe gestures didn’t suffer from this new placement. I’m still not the biggest fan of Windows 8.1 and the lack of a start menu out of the box, but I still found the OS to be usable.

Ultimately, I’m a big fan of the hardware. Microsoft just needs to fix some bugs.

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  • Oyster - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    Thanks for pointing it out, Ryan. Hate it when people poke and prod with shit that has nothing to do with the issues at hand.
  • steven75 - Thursday, June 5, 2014 - link

    Nope. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technolog...
  • paradyne - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    Chrome does support high DPI screens, just not 'out of the box' yet. You need to go into chrome:flags and turn on a couple of options, then the UI will be properly scaled as you'd expect. It still doesn't scroll and zoom as smoothly as IE though, or render text as nicely which is why I've mostly switched back to IE now, especially on touchscreen devices.
  • nutshell42 - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    WTF is up with Chrome anyway? I remember when they were at the forefront of features and tech but nowadays they suck so much I'm about to go back to Firefox.

    Unless you think a browser's killer feature is to run Google+ Apps (right on the desktop!!!!!11oneone) Chrome doesn't really advance much.
  • tipoo - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    "although it’s certainly not the 10-20 second wake latency that I’ve come to expect on my hard drive-based desktop."

    I never understood this - I can start working again with my 5 year old Dell Studio 15 after about 4 seconds of waking it from sleep. What device has a 20 second wake latency nowadays?
  • tipoo - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    Ah, I missed the "desktop" bit.
  • Beany2013 - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    One of the more interesting parts of the keynote for the Surface Pro 3 was when Panay put the device in his lap, and with the kickstand, it barely sat there, even tucked into his gut. Pic here (from TheRegister : http://regmedia.co.uk/2014/05/20/surface_pro_3_lap...

    I saw that picture and just couldn't imagine it working as anything other than 'better than a tablet', which for typing when sitting, isn't really *that* much of a compliment.

    If you had the choice of a moderately specced ultrabook, or SP3 for doing the article/liveblog, given the amount of typing you had to do and presumably a fair amount of footwork to get around the show, which would you have one for? Is the SP3, in that specific instance, a better choice than an equivalent priced ultrabook?
  • nerd1 - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    SP3 has much better value if you don't consider the tablet usage. Just compare the screen / weight /battery life to other ultrabooks. And you can always use third party keyboards (or even a full-blown mechanical desktop keyboard)
  • nerd1 - Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - link

    Google is not fixing the Chrome with win8.1 for ages... so I had to go back to IE11 for my win8 tablet. It is actually much better than chrome (faster, eats up less battery, supports selection with touch)
  • egil - Thursday, June 5, 2014 - link

    I would like to commend Anandtech for not rushing a review out like the rest of the tech press, actually giving the device a fair chance, and not just concluding its not a MacBook Air followed by a average score.

    Most of the reviews I have read has focused entirely on how the SF3 is to use as a journalist, at least implicitly. However, they seem to forget who they are writing the review for... my guess is that most of their readers are not journalists.

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