Is it an iPad? Is it a MacBook Air? No, it's a Surface Pro 3

Nice hardware, shame about the use case


Can I kick it? Yes you can

The pen comes as standard, but most users will also want a keyboard cover (£109.99 inc) which is the Surface’s most distinctive feature. The keyboard is a backlit Type Cover, which means it has real keys; there is no Touch Cover on offer in the new size. The cover attaches magnetically and folds up to protect the screen, or back to enable tablet use without detaching it completely.

New in this version is an improved track pad, after the dire effort in Type Cover 2. This one is pretty good, responsive, accurate, and with handy two-finger scroll. One grumble: there is no way to disable tap-to-click, which is a nightmare for anyone suffering from slightly trembling hands.

The new keyboard also folds up against the bottom edge of the screen to form a stronger, more stable bond when you use the Surface on your lap. This also means that the keyboard slopes down towards you when used on the desk. It is a thoughtful feature, but with a couple of drawbacks. When folded up like this, the keyboard flexes slightly as you type, because it is thin and there is empty air below: not so good. It is also hard to use touch on the taskbar with the keyboard hinge in the way. Your choice, except that the magnet is strong enough that it tends to fold up automatically and it takes conscious effort to use the old flat position.

Surface Pro 3.0 introduces a fold-out kickstand that remains firm at almost any angle. This is a significant advantage, letting you get the most comfortable screen angle whether at a desk or on your lap.

The Windows key on Surface Pro 3 has moved to the right hand of the screen, possibly to accommodate the fold-up keyboard. A snag with this arrangement is that you are more likely to hit the home button by accident. If you use the tablet in portrait mode, which makes more sense now that the screen ratio is 3:2 rather than 16:9, the position of the Windows key is just right.

The display itself is 2160 x 1440 with 10-point multi-touch, driven by Intel HD Graphics 4400 (or HD Graphics 5000 in the i7 models). There is a mini DisplayPort which can drive an external 4K display alongside the internal display, or two additional 2K displays (2 additional HD displays if you have an i3 model).

Surface Pro 3 pen, photo: Tim Anderson

The Surface pen is a thing of beauty, until you lose it

Graphics on the Surface 3 are sharp but with a few caveats. First, it is a glossy screen, which means you get reflections. Second (and related), the display is poor in outside light. Third, scaling is a problem with some applications, if they are not dpi-aware (which means using Microsoft’s API for scaling nicely on high density displays). Many are not; for example, the latest Adobe Photoshop requires an “experimental” setting to make it dpi-aware.

Even the original Surface Pro 1 was a Core i5, but Intel’s Haswell architecture along with other tweaks has transformed performance and battery life. Microsoft claims a nine-hour battery life, though I achieved a bit less. Battery consumption in standby is much improved, though note that if you install Hyper-V, Microsoft’s hypervisor, you lose the benefit of Connected Standby, the Windows 8 fast-resume feature. Hyper-V is installed with Visual Studio, so developers take note.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Google Pixel 6, 6 Pro Android 12 smartphone launch marred by shopping cart crashes

    Chocolate Factory talks up Tensor mobile SoC, Titan M2 security ... for those who can get them

    Google held a virtual event on Tuesday to introduce its latest Android phones, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, which are based on a Google-designed Tensor system-on-a-chip (SoC).

    "We're getting the most out of leading edge hardware and software, and AI," said Rick Osterloh, SVP of devices and services at Google. "The brains of our new Pixel lineup is Google Tensor, a mobile system on a chip that we designed specifically around our ambient computing vision and Google's work in AI."

    This latest Tensor SoC has dual Arm Cortex-X1 CPU cores running at 2.8GHz to handle application threads that need a lot of oomph, two Cortex-A76 cores at 2.25GHz for more modest workloads, and four 1.8GHz workhorse Cortex-A55 cores for lighter, less-energy-intensive tasks.

    Continue reading
  • BlackMatter ransomware gang will target agriculture for its next harvest – Uncle Sam

    What was that about hackable tractors?

    The US CISA cybersecurity agency has warned that the Darkside ransomware gang, aka BlackMatter, has been targeting American food and agriculture businesses – and urges security pros to be on the lookout for indicators of compromise.

    Well known in Western infosec circles for causing the shutdown of the US Colonial Pipeline, Darkside's apparent rebranding as BlackMatter after promising to go away for good in the wake of the pipeline hack hasn't slowed their criminal extortion down at all.

    "Ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure entities could directly affect consumer access to critical infrastructure services; therefore, CISA, the FBI, and NSA urge all organizations, including critical infrastructure organizations, to implement the recommendations listed in the Mitigations section of this joint advisory," said the agencies in an alert published on the CISA website.

    Continue reading
  • It's heeere: Node.js 17 is out – but not for production use, says dev team

    EcmaScript 6 modules will not stop growing use of Node, claims chair of Technical Steering Committee

    Node.js 17 is out, loaded with OpenSSL 3 and other new features, but it is not intended for use in production – and the promotion for Node.js 16 to an LTS release, expected soon, may be more important to most developers.

    The release cycle is based on six-monthly major versions, with only the even numbers becoming LTS (long term support) editions. The rule is that a new even-numbered release becomes LTS six months later. All releases get six months of support. This means that Node.js 17 is primarily for testing and experimentation, but also that Node.js 16 (released in April) is about to become LTS. New features in 16 included version 9.0 of the V8 JavaScript engine and prebuilt Apple silicon binaries.

    "We put together the LTS release process almost five years ago, it works quite well in that we're balancing [the fact] that some people want the latest, others prefer to have things be stable… when we go LTS," Red Hat's Michael Dawson, chair of the Node.js Technical Steering Committee, told The Register.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021