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Microsoft Handhelds Portables Upgrades Windows Hardware

TechCrunch and Others On the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 136

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.
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TechCrunch and Others On the Microsoft Surface Pro 3

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  • But... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2014 @09:07PM (#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:Tilt Support? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by QuasiSteve ( 2042606 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @10:07PM (#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 []. 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.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @10:40PM (#47085589) Journal

    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.

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @01:34AM (#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:Tilt Support? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2014 @03:01AM (#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.

  • by lazybratsche ( 947030 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @03:46AM (#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 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.
  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @09:49AM (#47086963) Homepage
    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

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.