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Microsoft Handhelds Hardware

Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition 101

Forbes writer Marco Chiappetta revisits Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 half a year after its U.S. debut, and finds the tablet-laptop hybrid has held up pretty well, but suffers some dings worth knowing about before jumping at holiday sale prices, pointing out a number of scenarios where a full-fledged notebook, even if it’s roughly the same size, will be the better choice. I’ve found that the Surface Pro 3 is ideal for users that will likely fire the machine up when sitting at a desk or when in a conference room-type environment that has a table. The Surface Pro 3’s performance is plenty good for everyday computing and office applications, and the screen is top notch. Using the Surface Pro 3 as a notepad with its stylus is also very useful. In fact, over the course of the device’s life, Microsoft has issued a number of firmware, driver, and OS updates that have improved the overall responsiveness and usefulness of the Surface Pro 3. For those who want a laptop, though for actual laptop use, the Surface is an awkward fit. However, a thin, tablet-convertible, touchscreen laptop may appear soon from LG, as well.
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Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition

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  • can this thing be hacked or are you locked in to the OS it comes with?
    • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Sunday November 30, 2014 @07:45AM (#48490283)

      You can install Linux on it. Whether you can get everything to work well is another matter, though.

      • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @08:01AM (#48490321) Homepage
        That's pretty much the problem with Linux on any machine. If you buy the machine specifically for running Linux, there are plenty of options that will run without problems. However if you pick a random machine at the store, odds are there will be some part of the hardware that has less than optimal drivers.
        • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @09:20AM (#48490559)

          That's pretty much the problem with Linux on any machine. If you buy the machine specifically for running Linux, there are plenty of options that will run without problems. However if you pick a random machine at the store, odds are there will be some part of the hardware that has less than optimal drivers.

          I suppose I must have been really lucky then. Or didn't get my Linux distros in 2000. The past three years or so, I haven't had any installation problems at all. on dozens of random machines. Shortly before that, my last problem was a sound driver on a Toshiba laptop. It was new enough that I had to wait a day for a Linux driver to come out for it.

          In general, people who have problems with installing/running Linux these days are trying to impose their Windows experience on it.

          As far as how they work, my wife's Acer touch screen laptop runs Linux (Mint) much better than it ran Windows 8. Right now I'm running a Chromebook that dual boots between Linux and ChromeOS. Have not found one single thing that didn't work in either of them. My most recent converts are an eePC netbook running Lubuntu, 3 Toshiba Satellite laptops of different vintage,and an Acer Desktop, and zero installation or use issues. That' is significantly less trouble than the Windows side of those computers.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            In general, people who have problems with installing/running Linux these days are trying to impose their Windows experience on it.

            If by "Windows Experience" you mean having working sound after the installation is completed, then you are right.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 )

              In general, people who have problems with installing/running Linux these days are trying to impose their Windows experience on it.

              If by "Windows Experience" you mean having working sound after the installation is completed, then you are right.

              You figure that's what I meant Sparky?

              Sorry, but I have supported Linux, OSX, and PC's for years.

              The Microsoft OS PC is the most fragile, the most work intensive to keep running of the three.

              Linux some years back was a problem with drivers, now it supports devices that Windows doesn't any more. The biggest thing with Linux is that it still helps to know some command line. Big deal.

              OSX is generally much less maintenance than either of the others. Once again, understanding unix like command lines open

              • by Anonymous Coward

                Windows on the other hand, can be an absolute nightmare on Wednesday morning after Patch Tuesday. If all you support is Office, it's usually pretty simple. But If you support multiple progams and AV on the PC, it's another story. One of my favorites was when Patch Tuesday knocked out some Codecs that stopped WMP from showing anyone's video. Nothing like 10 conference rooms calling you at the same time because your "working sound" Windows PC's now refuse to show any of their videos.

                You know what the burn rate is in 10 conference rooms with 25 to 50 suits? So I have to real time install new media players on each one, in real time. Functional Windows machines my bright red rosy. And it was a new treat every month. And don't get me started about the forced updates.

                So spare me the unctious Windows ubber ales. It's not quite as good as your fanboi fairy tale, Sparky.

                If you have ten conference rooms, you should have a WSUS server and a group for them. Tip: Don't install all updates blindly on mission critical resources without testing them first. I test all Windows updates on a low importance VMs, (like,s ay the WSUS server itself if need be) before applying to physical machines, much less "VIP" resources.

                Windows has issues, but the biggest one it the low skill dead end admins who got into it (only) for the money.

                • If you have ten conference rooms, you should have a WSUS server and a group for them. Tip: Don't install all updates blindly on mission critical resources without testing them first.

                  If only I could. the official IT guys were Office centric. I had zero input on the updates. So I took what they allowed to be installed. And since they did not have to support who I did (most IT people piss their pants when dealing with the suits, they could remaiin secure and happy in theie knowledge that Windows was teh superior operating system.Pretty sweet gig if you can get it.

                  Regardless, it was a fairly complex situation. The suits were familiar with me, and trusted me, but the IT guys and gals want

          • If Linux advocates spent as much time fixing the issues with Linux distros as they do denying they exist then Windows might have had some real competition from someone other than Apple.

            • If Linux advocates spent as much time fixing the issues with Linux distros as they do denying they exist then Windows might have had some real competition from someone other than Apple.

              These days, one has to have the issue to fix it. I generally don't have anything other than having to use WINE more than I woud like.

              But I don't have ot use W8. That was like daily torture for the time I had a W8 system.. Regardless, I want ease of use more than bragging rights about installed user base.

          • Getting multimonitors and displayport to work on my zbook under Linux has been a pain in the ass, even then I can't use the Optimus setup unless I take the performance hit of going to the nouveau drivers and even with the nouveau drivers there are often problems when switching graphics that windows just show black and need to be resized to be redrawn (which is fine for windowed programs but not so good for fullscreen ones).

            For basic stuff you can use just about any machine, I've even run it fine on a surfac

            • Getting multimonitors and displayport to work on my zbook under Linux has been a pain in the ass, even then I can't use the Optimus setup unless I take the performance hit of going to the nouveau drivers and even with the nouveau drivers there are often problems when switching graphics that windows just show black and need to be resized to be redrawn (which is fine for windowed programs but not so good for fullscreen ones).

              For basic stuff you can use just about any machine, I've even run it fine on a surface pro. But advanced features supported on OS X and Windows are usually flakey on Linux for a long time.

              Just as a bit of Linux weirdness, your performance hit got me to thinking. I've run dual screens on Compaq presario and Toshiba Satellite laptop, and some Acer Desktop I set up once.

              When you set up to do dual monitors, in the preferences, where on a Windows machine, you'll usually see the monitors as 1 and 2, and beside each other, Linux allows you to place the second monitor on either side or above or below. When I placed the monitors side by side, I took a nasty-ass performace hit, as if I was forcing

              • When you set up to do dual monitors, in the preferences, where on a Windows machine, you'll usually see the monitors as 1 and 2, and beside each other, Linux allows you to place the second monitor on either side or above or below.

                Windows allows you to do that as well, just drag the monitor to wherever you want it to be relative to the other one.

                When I placed the monitors side by side, I took a nasty-ass performace hit, as if I was forcing a crazy resolution it didn't like. But when I placed the secondary monitor above the primary one in the preference panel, it worked fine. Try that maybe?

                Thanks but the performance hit I'm getting is just the nouveau drivers vs the nvidia proprietary ones rather than being anything specific to the multimonitor setup (same deal with single monitor). I can use nouveau and PRIME to get Optimus working on Linux but the performance hit of the nouveau drivers makes it undesirable.

          • So when an Ubuntu live-CD wouldn't even load the graphics drivers necessary to see anything past the boot manager, that was my fault for, "trying to impose [my] Windows experience on it"?

            The fact is, Linux driver support is impressive considering that the OS is given away for free, but it is hardly impressive in the overall sense.

            Microsoft and Apple sell a lot of operating systems because the Windows and OS-X experience is pretty good for the average user. Linux distros struggle to give their OS away for f

        • by c ( 8461 )

          If you buy the machine specifically for running Linux, there are plenty of options that will run without problems. However if you pick a random machine at the store, odds are there will be some part of the hardware that has less than optimal drivers.

          Over the last decade or so I've had more compatibility problems with the specifically-built-to-run-Linux desktop systems I've assembled than the lowest-bidder off-the-shelf corporate laptops that I've been handed at work.

          I'm not sure that says more about my luck

      • by guises ( 2423402 )
        This is inevitably what goes through my head whenever I see a device with some clever hardware tchotchke - "That nice." I say, "But it'll only work as long as the device is using their software, which ties me to their OS and possibly configuration, limits my privacy options, etc." So a laptop with a second screen, like the Razer Blade Pro, or a phone like the Yota, is ultimately pretty useless.
    • Which means, that like most windows tablets and laptops, you can probably get another OS to boot, but it probably won't be pretty.

      In theory, some distros of Linux have support for digitizers and touchscreens but the reality is, Microsoft is the only game in town when it comes to having a almost two decades of development into x86 tablets. Apple hardware running OS-X has never had digitizers or touch-screens built-in and Linux distros have done their best to cobble-together support for tablet-PCs into the

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Toilet. He means the kickstand is no good when using it on the toilet.

    • by flyneye ( 84093 )

      My bicycle kickstand has never been helpful on the toilet either, but, the old bumper-jack is another story altogether...

    • Protip: do not mention comfort in toilets when the guy's name is Chiappetta (translated: "little buttock").

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @08:13AM (#48490339)

    Is that Windows display scaling is unsatisfactory. Either I can read the screen and the display is too small or the display is so high resolution and has enough real estate but I can't read anything.

    I'm not sure the larger screen of the 3 makes this any better. Maybe a little, but from the one I've seen it seems to suffer from a similar problem.

    And the worst part is that display scaling seems broken in some way that causes it to scale external displays, making a laptop/desktop two display setup obnoxious.

    • by CountBrass ( 590228 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @08:32AM (#48490379)

      This is about the SP3 not the SP2 and the article addresses the question of display scaling.

    • by DrXym ( 126579 )
      I find it annoying too. Windows (and OS X and Linux) has long been used with low dpi screens so software can look really awful with a high DPI. All the menus, buttons, and toolbars are teeny tiny. So there is now a high DPI aware flag that software is supposed to use to declare it's conformance with new APIs.

      Problem is some software proclaims itself high DPI aware but still doesn't look right - Google Chrome in particular has fiddly little buttons. If software doesn't say it's aware then by default Window

      • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @09:52AM (#48490685) Journal

        You can thank developers who do not use manifests nor appropriate frameworks and hard code their own resolutions or use MFC 4.2 out of familiarity ... Anyway

        This is why I refuse to leave 1080p and go to 4K. I don't want a cell phone on my computer so I use Win 7 which has 0 support after 100 dpi. Last I heard even Chrome had issues.

        People yack about 4k being the second coming of Christ but you need a $1000 video card to play games with half the settings off and compatibility problems. Lets hope Windows 10 and Wayland address this. For me it will be a few years before I change.

        • by DrXym ( 126579 )
          The high DPI manifest entry and APIs only turned up with Windows 8. It's hardly surprising that legacy applications don't support it or make declarations in their manifest to that effect. Even applications which are in active development might be using legacy APIs or DLLs that make it a non-trivial problem to solve.

          It's not confined to Windows either, Linux and OS X suffer from similar problems.

        • I don't want a cell phone on my computer so I use Win 7 which has 0 support after 100 dpi. Last I heard even Chrome had issues.

          That is an exaggeration. There are definitely some issues in Win 7 (no independent dpi settings for different monitors), but after a bit of tweaking it is absolutely fine.

          People yack about 4k being the second coming of Christ but you need a $1000 video card to play games with half the settings off and compatibility problems.

          This is an exaggeration too.
          1. You can always set the resolution to 1920x1080 or 2560x1440 (at the dpis common for 4k monitors, scaling artifacts are hardly noticeable)
          2. AA is not really required at 4k on typical monitor sizes (which saves a lot of processing power)
          3. Most games aren't that demanding, considering a lot of them are console

    • your complaint seems to be with who ever wrote the software you are using on windows, not windows it self.
      but i know its hard to have a brain about these things.

    • The bottom line is that a small screen results in a subpar user experience, no matter how good the scaling is. I tried the SP3 and didn't like it at all because 12" just doesn't work for real work. If you're going to hook it up to a real monitor, then it's fine but it sucks as a laptop.

  • The whole point for many people in getting the Surface Pro is its Wacom digitizer, which is where the majority of its additional cost is coming from. To compare that to the LG is just completely missing the point -- it's basically saying that capacitive pens are just as good as Wacom tech.
    • sigh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by CountBrass ( 590228 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @08:34AM (#48490391)

      The SP3 doesn't use a Wacom digitiser... it uses one from N-Trig.

      • Which is a real pity. I never had trouble with Wacom on my Surface Pro-esque Samsung tablet, but N-Trig's been a nightmare on the Surface Pro 3.

        When it works, it's great, better than Wacom. But it stops responding way too often and the AAAA battery lasts, at most, two months.

  • by CountBrass ( 590228 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @08:29AM (#48490371)

    The quality of posts on Slashdot has really crashed in recent years but those on this story really are the very bottom of the barrel.

    Not so much news for nerds any more, more like the ramblings of the under-educated and over-opinionated.

    I could feel the loss of IQ points from just reading their drivel

    • This was an ad, right? Entire post is useless drivel.
    • The quality of posts on Slashdot has really crashed in recent years but those on this story really are the very bottom of the barrel.

      Not so much news for nerds any more, more like the ramblings of the under-educated and over-opinionated.

      And you are the proof.

      Too bad all you could do was whine and bawl, and not enlighten us poor drivel spewing Neanderthals with some of your witty and valuable insight.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @08:32AM (#48490385)
    It's like a Surface Pro 3 but cheaper and the price includes a keyboard / mouse / port replicator / speaker / stand to sit the tablet in. I find it very useful for holidays / travel etc. because it's a PC when I want it to be and a tablet when I need something simpler.
    • It weighs more, you can't leave the keyboard behind making it very heavy and large for a table.

      And it completely lacks a digitiser: so no handwritten note taking, drawing etc etc.

      But yeah, apart from all of that it's exactly the same ^^

      • It weighs more, you can't leave the keyboard behind making it very heavy and large for a table.

        So is this some of your superior insight, eh?

        Explain how a laptop is inferior to this system. close it up and the keyboard goes with.

        And it completely lacks a digitiser: so no handwritten note taking, drawing etc etc.

        What do you do with those things? Funny how some folks scramble to make a step backwards a "feature".

        Now explain how using a simple text program augmented with some keyboarding is so inferior to scrawling notes on a digitizer. As for drawing on your tablet, it likewise is a solution l

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )

        It weighs more, you can't leave the keyboard behind making it very heavy and large for a table.

        Yes you can. You just lift the tablet out of the stand and walk off with it. The stand itself does a little heft to it because it has to counteract the high centre of gravity of the tablet. Microsoft's solution is kickstand which significantly increases the footprint the thing needs to stand on. Oh and no keyboard for you unless you fork out a small fortune to buy it as an accessory.

        And it completely lacks a digitiser: so no handwritten note taking, drawing etc etc.

        I doubt that holding a 12" tablet to take notes is an ideal use though I concede it doesn't have an active stylus. You could

  • " In fact, over the course of the device's life, Microsoft has issued a number of firmware, driver, and OS updates that have improved the overall responsiveness and usefulness of the Surface Pro 3."

    Translation: Microsoft released a product before it was ready. Do you want to buy from an abusive manufacturer?

    Other recent examples of faulty Microsoft products: Windows ME, Windows XP before the 2nd service pack, Windows Vista, and Windows 8. One earlier example: DOS 3.0 was buggy in a way that was fixed
  • by walllaby ( 1869496 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @11:02AM (#48490969)

    I used a Surface Pro 3 for about a week before deciding to return it. I took it back because it didn't quite fit my needs, and I found it to be just an awkward device.

    I had mostly hoped to replace an aging Macbook Pro and have a mobile sketchpad. The device works well as a laptop, although I found it tiresome to have to extend the kickstand every time as opposed to just opening a laptop lid. I did not find it a good device for sketching; the interface in Photoshop CS5 (my usual painting program) was absolutely tiny and a pain to navigate around in with the stylus. You often have to switch between the brush, zoom, pan, and layers menus while working in Photoshop, and it quickly became clear that this setup wasn't going to work. This isn't a failure on Microsoft's part, just evidence that mobile sketching either needs to be on a dedicated app - such as the included OneNote (not quite up to snuff) - or on some old tried-and-true pen and paper.

    That said, it is incredible what sort of power they've managed to pack into such a thin device. I just think the whole "jack of all trades, master of none" schtick is the wrong route to take.

    • " I did not find it a good device for sketching; the interface in Photoshop CS5 (my usual painting program)"

      When all you have is a hammer....

      Seriously, PS5 is what you based a thousand dollar machine on? Considering the plethora of very good sketching programs out there the fact that you used PS5 tells me that you didn't really give the thing a chance, or that your idea of sketching is different than using a pencil and paper. I have a Surface 1 with Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro and it is a joy to work wi
    • I found that a wireless mouse made my Surface Pro 2 significantly easier to use. I know that's adding yet another part and taking away from the all-in-one-rectangle transformable tablet philosophy that Microsoft is going after, but it doesn't bother me to carry an additional little mouse when I travel. After an hour I actually caught myself switching fluidly between touching the screen and using the mouse depending on how fine-grained of control I needed. You can actually two-hand it for the most part, i

  • I have a Surface 2 that I tried using for a bit (got it from work) and it sucks, badly. The mouse design is horrible, you can barely see it. A coworker has been testing the 3 Pro for a while as a desktop replacement with the ability to quickly take the tablet/laptop thing and go on the road. He likes it, but he's got a full set up, docking station, etc.

    I've had the Dell XPS 12 for almost two years and LOVE it for taking it to meetings and customers at work. Taking notes with OneNote is so easy and the tou
    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      I have a Surface 2 that I tried using for a bit (got it from work) and it sucks, badly. The mouse design is horrible, you can barely see it. A coworker has been testing the 3 Pro for a while as a desktop replacement with the ability to quickly take the tablet/laptop thing and go on the road. He likes it, but he's got a full set up, docking station, etc. I've had the Dell XPS 12 for almost two years and LOVE it for taking it to meetings and customers at work. Taking notes with OneNote is so easy and the touch screen make it really nice to use. I rarely if ever use the tablet feature. A nice thing about it vs. my iPad is that I can put it on my lap while on the couch at home and browse the web with touch with ONE HAND. iPad requires a stand or two hands and it's just uncomfortable for me. A few months ago I got just an UltraBook with a 15 inch screen so I could program and work on servers better. It's a Dell Precision M3800 meant to compete with a MacBook but it was Windows 8.1 and touch. It's the best device I've ever had, hands down. Light, beautiful in design and screen, great mouse, touch works great. It's not trying to be a tablet/hybrid thing. It's just a great UltraBook. Don't get me wrong, I love my iDevices too (we have lots of them at home), but for work UltraBooks rock.

      Hold on there. The Precision M3800 is a desktop replacement. It is not an ultrabook. It's built for power, not minimum weight or thickness.

  • by Dishwasha ( 125561 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @01:57PM (#48492037)

    I've had the i7 512 Surface Pro 3 for several months now and I absolutely love it. I was worried about the hinge but it's lapability has no issues IMHO. The only problem I have is it simply doesn't work if I'm lying down in bed.

    It's doubtful the LG will contend. I think the biggest threat is the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro but at close to a pound heavier and inability to detach the keyboard increasing the thickness in tablet mode, I'll stick with my Surface Pro 3 thank you very much.

  • Surfaces suck (Score:2, Informative)

    by JThundley ( 631154 )

    I recently started working with the Surface Pro 3 and it blows, hard. Microsoft makes the hardware, the drivers, and the operating system yet none of these things work properly. I ask myself why these things don't work properly, but then I remember who is behind it. I'm going to list a few of the issues I've run across so far, and I'm sure I'll find more.

    I've had issues where the keyboard cover (which is made specifically for the surface) stops working for no reason. Device Manager says there's no driver in

  • I've been a big believer in pen computing since reading Niven & Pournelle's _The Mote in God's Eye_ and using a Koala Pad graphics tablet attached to a Commodore 64 in high school.

    Reasons I prefer tablets w/ a stylus:

    - drawing
    - note-taking
    - annotation
    - more efficient usage of some programs, esp. those which can be configured w/ pie menus or menu structures which can become gestural (Punch in Altsys Virtuoso was a gesture for me on my Wacom ArtZ graphics tablet attached to

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