Denise Goldberg's blog

Monday, May 25, 2015

product review :: Surface 3

I usually don't replace my electronic gear this quickly but a trade-in offer from Microsoft led me to replace my traveling computer now, just a year and a half after it jumped into my hands. Microsoft was offering $150 for an "in good shape" Surface 2 (during the month of May 2015) to be used in the purchase of a Surface 3. I submitted the online form and printed a shipping label early in May, shipping the Surface 2 back after I returned from my wanders in Acadia. After all I needed a traveling computer that weekend!

The pre-paid shipping label covered ground shipping to Microsoft's exchange partner. I dropped the package at a FedEx office late in the day on Wednesday, missing the last shipment of the day. It shipped on Thursday and was received at its destination the following Tuesday. By mid-day on Wednesday I had the code I needed to activate the $150 rebate. I immediately placed my order; upgrading from the free ground shipping that was offered to a more immediate shipping method. My new Surface 3 was in my hands by Friday afternoon.

Surface 3

What drove me to replace my Surface 2 with a Surface 3?

I was still happy with the Surface 2, but the switch to full Windows for the Surface 3 made me think. The Surface 2 runs Windows RT 8.1 which I understand may have a slight upgrade in the future (without an upgrade path to Windows 10). The Surface 3 comes loaded with Windows 8.1 and it is eligible for an upgrade to Windows 10 when the operating system is available later this year.

Because the Surface 3 runs full Windows, any Windows applications can be installed. I wasn't missing much with the Surface 2 although I'll admit to wanting access to browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Neither Mozilla or Google chose to make their browsers available in the Windows store; that meant neither could be installed on the Surface 2. The first additional applications I installed on my new Surface 3 were those two browsers.

I already had an Arc Touch Mouse that I bought for the Surface 2. It's a Bluetooth device that is supported by the Surface 3 as well; all I needed to do was to pair the device with my new computer.

In addition to the operating system change there are only a couple of things that jumped out at me when I started playing with my new Surface 3. First is the form factor of the device.

Surface 2 dimensions: 10.81” x 6.79” x 0.35”, weight: 1.49 pounds
Surface 3 dimensions: 10.52” x 7.36” x 0.34”, weight: 1.37 pounds

The change is noticeable since the Surface 2 mimicked the form factor of a mobile phone while the Surface 3 mimics a more typical laptop. This change meant that the Type Keyboard from the Surface 2 does not fit a Surface 3 (and of course the keyboard was part of the trade-in value). As it turns out the new keyboard has improved from the old, attaching more securely and improving the usability of the keyboard when holding the device on your lap.

The next change is the placement of the capacitive windows button on the device. When holding the device in landscape mode (wider side in horizontal position), the Windows button on the Surface 3 is on the right. It was on the bottom on the Surface 2.

I would say that both of these are minimal changes; noticeable at first, but neither interferes with comfortable operation of the device.

I'm happy.