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Main | Ubuntu on EFI-based Surface Pro 3 - My thoughts... »
Thursday
Nov132014

Surface Pro 3 - For anyone who asks

This is my review of a Surface Pro 3 I've been using as a travel-training machine for the past month. In short, I LoveHate it, but mostly love, as long as I put it in its place.

It's NOT a mac.  It's NOT unix.  It's limited. But not as much as an iPad or Android device - it's a fully-fledged machine.
I got the i5 256GB 8GB RAM model. Nice, wish I would have spent on the larger storage option but it's not too bad.

Ergonomics

Typecover is OK, but notice the little LogitechOne nubbin on the end - works fantastically well with the USB radio and my various mice and keyboards.
The screen is gorgeous, touch is responsive.

About that OS

Windows 8.1 is meh (app store, well, sucks - maybe that will improve over time).
Cygwin is as horrible as I remember. When will Microsoft put bash in there? When?
Windows 10 is a great upgrade but it's nowhere near ready yet for consumer use as it's just a beta.  The pen acts up, the screen resolution management isn't there yet, but I really want it once it comes out. Biggest thing you lose? The pen top button (which launches OneNote when clicked) stops working, and all sorts of hacks don't do the right things.

Google, whereforout my Google? 

Big pet peeve - you can't sync Google email to it or calendar unless your company ponies up for the paid version of Google Apps - Google dropped support from Apps for calendars and folder sync etc., and you have to use Google Apps sync - this is too expensive for that one feature IMO.

What about Linux on that thing?

Ubuntu was FAN-TASTIC dual-booted. I spent hours tweaking it and getting the type cover working. Ultimately it was just easier to tote around some Logitech keyboards and mice. But then Windows 10 did a firmware update (just scroll down on my homepage to see the hate it fostered deep inside me) and blew away Grub. I couldn't recover from that, wanted back the drivers for Windows 8.1, and did a wipe. Sad, but needed. Maybe the open source movement in Microsoft we're hearing about will eventually soften their need to control the box, but I'm giving up for now. VMWare is sufficient for some development on Ubuntu in a pinch.

Office Software

I have Windows 365 on it, and that's a nice distribution. OneDrive is equally useful as Dropbox was. I now have OneDrive on my mac, as well as OneNote, so I can put files in a shared space and share my notes. OneNote blows Evernote out of the water in terms of note taking by hand with the stylus (and it is much better than S-Note on Samsung Galaxy devices) - but I don't like the way it does tags (tabs across the top of the UI). But it does have plugins, so I will look into options for easier navigation. There is an Evernote to Onenote importer if anyone else gets a cheaper i3 Surface or something, but it's one-way so keep that in mind.
Seriously, you should look at OneNote if you use Evernote - it is a click-and-type note taker that lets you embed free-form content where it makes sense, and search is pretty good. If you have good handwriting skills (or nunchuck skills, etc) it can search your handwritten notes too with background indexed OCR.
One other note. My use case is that I wanted a teeny laptop to take out when I teach that is a full computer, and for taking to meetings for notetaking with the pen. Travel with one device rather than two. For that purpose, it's perfect.

For Developers?

For a daily developer pad, maybe not so much (depends on the task)!  (I used it this AM to do correspondence and email, and a bit of development, but I'm on the macbook pro right now, after admitting this to myself this week. I'm back with my buddy Mac for some of my work). If you're a web designer, photoshop user, artist, musician, etc., it's really a perfect device. Multi-core deep learning or hadoop? Nope, move on for now, the heat management isn't yet there to keep the cores humming, and you won't get enough space... The MicroSD card helps there, but it's not very fast.  But, if you're comparing it to having two devices (a tablet and a laptop) yes, you can get a lot done with just this one.

Happiness Graph for Surface Pro 3 and me

This is my silly sketch take on whether I'm happy using this thing or not. Notice over time it has lots of bumps. inspired by this really silly blog post about productivity with Angular 1.x, but executed SOO MUCH POORLY on OneNote with the Surface pen.


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Reader Comments (1)

I've been using Win 10 with Parallels since January (can't even remember what build number, but it was one of the first), and Parallels had full Win 10 support from day 1. Literally, when you installed and asks you what OS, it had a "Windows 10" button.

August 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermobilepundits

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