Surface 3 has a winning formula

by Volker Weber


As I recently said, this is Apple territory. But when I travel, I always pack the Surface 3. It has a unique set of features that would require me to carry much more Apple gear. Since I like to travel light, that is not a good option. The photo shows four important things:

  1. Surface Pen. I could use iPad Pro instead for pen support.
  2. USB A port for thumb drives. Not on the iPad Pro. Would require MacBook Pro.
  3. USB charging. MacBook Pro needs its own power brick.
  4. Decent keyboard with not so decent trackpad.

I could carry the Macbook but then were unable to use a pen and would need the power brick. Or I could use the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, but then were unable to read USB media.

This is what I am packing: five port USB charger with wires, iPhone 6S Plus with Olloclip Active Lens, BlackBerry Priv, Surface 3, power bank, Plantronics headset. Yes, always two phones.


Why not:
1. iPad Pro
2. Apple Pencil
3. lightning-to-USB-A-adapter

With the rumors that Apple will be removing the headphone jack at some point I see a lightning-to-lots-of-things adapter cable in the near future.

Erik Brooks, 2016-07-06

I bought a Surface 3 because I wanted a great pen experience, and with the right software (Windows 10, OneNote, etc.) it delivers.

The battery life is quite good, but the "lapability" (I'm almost 2m tall) is not there, so I mostly use it either at a table or just in the hand without the keyboard. It can barely run Visual Studio 2015, but I have my ThinkPad W530 for that, and for small-scale work, it's tolerable. I wish it had more RAM, but then I should probably move on to a Surface Pro at this point.

However, I hate-hate-hate the power cable. USB charging is a great feature, but the Surface 3 has a *terrible* mechanical implementation at the socket. I have to fiddle with cables to get them to seat correctly. I know USB C is the way of the future, but I almost weep with joy when I use a MacBook with MagSafe: it feels perfect.

Richard Albury, 2016-07-06

Erik, I have that adapter, but it won't let you manage files. It's just to connect cameras or read media structured like camera storage.

Richard, I have the 4/128 model and that serves my needs very well. Lap-ability is a big issue, yes. Micro-Usb is slow to charge but I only need to charge overnight. So far the plug is holding up. Surface Pro is different. Great plug, but needs power brick.

Volker Weber, 2016-07-06

For now the Surface3 and OneNote seems to be the best affordable solution for handwritten documents and documentation.
But what will be next year? There won't be a Surface 4 (because of the missing Intel chip).
So you have to move to the not so affordable Pro Series.

Stefan Dorscht, 2016-07-06

I don't see anything happening that would make Surface 3 less useful. I would want the new keyboard, but that is a want and not a must have.

Volker Weber, 2016-07-06

Just want to use the opportunity to thank you, Volker! Mainly thanks to your reviews and recommendations I purchased the Surface 3 some months ago and have been very happy with it ever since. I also got the 4/128 GB model which is fast enough for my needs. Missing lapability is not an issue since it's nothing I would expect from a tablet. What I really like instead is the kickstand which makes it so convenient to use on a table, on the armrest of my sofa or even in bed without having to resort to a cereal package or an additional plastic stand. And the keyboard, including the trackpad, is good enough and much better than I expected on such a small and light device which therefore has become my only travel computer on business trips. A brilliant device, love it!

Jochen Kattoll, 2016-07-08

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