Surface Pro 3: First (and Second) Impressions

So, far, I love my new Surface Pro 3.  Despite having to exchange the first one I got since it had battery issues…  Let’s hope this doesn’t have similar problems. Lots of pros and cons for me.  Some pretty major cons, many of which I knew about before buying one, but I’m still happy with the splurge. (It does look like the “cons” far outnumber the “pros,” though.  Doesn’t it?)

Note: This entry will be updated periodically.  Details might also be added later — if I get around to it.  This is more of a draft of a brain dump.

Pros

  1. Responsive pen.  The main reason I bought this!  To increase productivity and help me with organizing my notes.  I still prefer scribbling across a Moleskine notebook over typing notes on a laptop, so I’m learning how to mimic this on the Surface Pro 3.  The pen that comes with it is so much better than many of the others I’ve tried, including the Evernote Jot Script + iPad and many of the tablets before the reign of iPad.
  2. I love the larger screen size, which more closely resembles letter-size paper.  I wished that my iPad air were a LITTLE bigger.
  3. OneNote?  I used to use OneNote, but I’ve been trying to really love Evernote this past year.  I might totally switch back.  Or I might use one for some things and one for the other… TBD.  But I feel more organized when I can put things in ordered notebooks and pages, as I can easily do with OneNote.  When I just clip things to Evernote and tag them, even if I put them in notebooks or stacks, I still feel very disorganized.  (Note: I did end up purchasing MSOffice.  The free “desktop” version doesn’t seem to allow you to import images or PDFs, which is ridiculous.)
    1. OneTastic – crop your images directly in OneNote!  You should be able to do this without having to download a plugin…  But I guess that’s asking for too much. (Microsoft Blogs info)  Also, select text from image.  I was hoping this was possible.  Didn’t think it was, but looks like it is!  I didn’t even have to go searching for something that could do this!  Macros in OneNote… Interesting… How might I use this in the future?  Hmmm…
  4. Projecting wirelessly.  Miracast/Screenbeam?
    1. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/project-wireless-screen-miracast
    2. http://blogs.windows.com/windows/b/windowsexperience/archive/2013/11/12/windows-8-1-on-your-big-screen-with-miracast.aspx
    3. Yes,this works REALLY well.  Tested the ScreenBeam SBWD100A/SBT100U.  Played Hulu audio & video with Surface ~20 feet away from the HDTV.  (The range is supposedly 50 feet.)  No major hiccups, and the hiccups that DID happen, I think are due to my slower internet connection, and not the ScreenBeam.

 

Cons

  1. The biggest “con” so far, and it’s a huge one, is that I had hardware and/or software issues with the first one that I bought within the first 3 or 4 days that I had it.  I was on the phone with Microsoft tech support, and they finally recommended that I exchange my Surface for a new one at Best Buy (where I had purchased it.)  Issues with the first Surface Pro 3 include:
    1. Driver installation problems (add screenshots?)  – Microsoft tech support couldn’t resolve issue either.
    2. Pen didn’t pair.  Or so it said.  But it seemed to work as it should.
    3. Plugged in, not charging; battery not detected; battery remaining unknown (add screenshots?)
    4. Camera resolution is AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL.  Another HUGE con for me.  Fixed focus; not autofocus.  I’m using my Galaxy S3 to take pictures and upload to OneNote instead.  Ridiculous workflow.
  2. Keyboard
    1. Purple Type Cover – Best Buy said they were getting a lot of returns for this (when I went to exchange my first Surface Pro 3 for a new one.)
    2. I often can’t pull up the onscreen keyboard, so I end up popping my Type Cover back on.
    3. Keyboard has to be plugged in (or you have to buy an adapter – more money, more to carry) – also ridiculous, especially when the onscreen keyboard often won’t pop up.
    4. Can’t type with Type Cover when tablet is in portrait orientation.  I often did this on an iPad/iPad Air.
    5. When I’m typing a large block of text the cursor would often jump to another part of the page while I’m typing.
    6. The keyboard will sometimes start acting strange… Hard to explain.  It’s as if the computer is assuming I’m pressing “Alt” while typing maybe?  Not really sure.  Or randomly highlighting stuff.
    7. Right now I can’t single- or double-tap to left- or right-click.  I have to physically push down on the lower left or lower right of the trackpad.  In general I feel like it’s VERY handy to know how to do one thing multiple ways since things frequently fail to work as they should, and you can sometime hobble around the failure by doing it an alternative way.
    8. Can’t float/move onscreen keyboard out of the way like you can on the iPad, so you sometimes can’t tell what you are typing since the keyboard covers up the text input box.  — never mind. It’s the icon above the delete button.
  3. Kickstand can only be used in landscape mode.  I knew that when I bought it.  But I can stand up my phone in portrait or landscape mode.
  4. Need desk space behind kickstand.  Or precariously balance it on your lap. Lapability?
  5. Ergonomics.  Not a con isolated to the Surface.  My posture is horrible when using this (or a laptop).   So, for any extended use, I try to mirror to an external monitor (or if I’m lazy to go upstairs, my HDTV)
  6. Reported Wifi issues – I haven’t experienced this myself.
  7. Chrome, touch (eg, with Wunderlist, reordering of items)
    1. http://lifehacker.com/the-best-experimental-chrome-features-you-should-check-478620752
    2. http://www.itworld.com/consumerization-it/344682/how-make-chrome-work-better-touchscreen-pcs
  8. Print Screen sometimes stops working work when it should, and there are at least 4 ways (add video clip with demo of three methods?)
    1. Fn + Spacebar is the same as the “Print Screen” key, which is not included on the Type Cover.  (Also, Fn + Alt + Spacebar = selected window only).  Puts image on clipboard.  Nice for when you want to paste a screenshot into Google Doc without having to save the file to your computer and then upload the file to Google Document.
    2. Press and hold Windows icon on bezel.  Then press the “minus” on the volume rocker on the side of the case. Saves to Pictures folder.
    3. Double-eraser push to send to OneNote
    4. Snipping Tool
  9. Cut and paste didn’t work (URL from FFX to Chrome) – might have been a fluke – had to right click instead of using keyboard shortcuts
  10. Can’t quickly jot a note by single-pushing “eraser” when Surface is locked.  I know it worked with my first Surface Pro 3.  I’m not sure it ever worked with the replacement Surface.  It’s not working now.  Argh.  This one is a huge con for me.
  11. Sometimes can’t unlock screen orientation.  Either have to restart Surface or unplug and plug in Type Cover.
  12. Cursor sometimes jumps around when I’m typing.  Very annoying.  ESPECIALLY when I’m deleting something.  Ctrl+Z is my friend, but I’m always paranoid that I can’t undo a delete!  Eek.
  13. Alt key gets stuck (Surface thinks it’s pressed), so I can’t type anything.  Resolution, press “Alt” several times to “unstick” it…
  14. Headphone audio issues… Erg.  Haven’t bothered to figure this one out yet…  Annoyed that I have to spend any time with this at all.  It should just work when you plug the headphones in, but it doesn’t.
    1. http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/surfpro-surfdevice/headphones-external-speakers-audio-problems-with/beb0189f-064b-4404-b0f5-22f8a38c0e25
    2. http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/support/hardware-and-drivers/sound-volume-and-speakers

 

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