Friday, July 11, 2014

My new laptop: Surface Pro 3

Probably the only Surface Pro 3 in all of  Korea.

The Surface Pro 3 (SP3) in Korea.

This was not easy to buy here in Seoul.  I had to import it and that cost me an additional 10%. The one I bought has the i7 processor and the 256 gb SSD.

I had just a handful of criteria when it came to what I wanted in a new laptop in the order of importance:

- must be light

That was it.  Since I do a lot of traveling, I wanted something I could carry almost to the point of not even realizing I had the computer in my backpack.

I had two subcriteria that I considered not must-haves, but really nice features to have:

- backlit keyboard
- touchscreeen

And the SP3 had both of these, too.

I had been eyeing the Macbook Air for some time.  I have one that I've used since 2008.  But over the years it hasn't been able to keep up with the technology, especially with youtube videos. When they play, they're choppy and the audio has static.

The Macbook air had the backlit keyboard, but no touch screen.

I was also looking at the new LG 980g laptops that are all over the place here in Seoul  This Windows laptop weighs in at only 2 pounds.  Really, really nice.

But no backlit keyboard.

I found the Surface Pro 3 fit my main criteria and both my subcriteria.

If I were to rate the Surface Pro 3 compared to a Macbook Air, with the MBA a 10, I would rank the Surface Pro 3 an 8.5 - 9.  I'm rethinking this rating now....If you include the touchscreen functionality maybe a 9-9.5 is a better number.  So, the range is a slightly broader 8.5 - 9.5.  I think that is a fair characterization.

The only things I would ding the SP3 for is the mouse pad and....  yeah.  That's it.  The mouse pad.

I've read several other reviews that have pooh-poohed the keyboard/cover and I can understand this.  So I suspect someone will - maybe even Microsoft - come out with a cover that has an aluminum outer shell.  I think they would fly off of the shelves.

Now, there is one unintended consequence about the keyboard case that is a GOOD one: If you spill coffee on the keyboard you don't fry the whole dang computer!  Like I did a few years ago to myMBA. I started using the "Skin" brand of keyboard cover films, but I didn't really like the resulting feel.  And I still fear I'll fry my computer yet again.

But, back to the mouse pad.  So far in life I have found that the only mousepad I have ever liked is the one on the Macbook Air.  It fits my right hand perfectly and the mouse button is placed naturally where my thumb is. I used to think that the one-button mouse was a defect in the Apple design, but for a laptop, this is not the case.

On Windows laptops, mouse pads are a necessary evil.  But having said that, the SP3 mousepad by far better than other Windows laptop mouse pads I've used.  My wife's old Toshiba laptop mouse pad was just painful to use.  My daughter's much newer HP laptop was not much of an improvement.

Scrolling with the mousepad is slightly choppy.  Not quite as smooth as an MBA.

But the best feature that is still not available on the Macbook Air is the touchscreen.  My daughter's HP has it and I started getting spoiled.  I found myself sitting in front of my Macbook Air poking my finger at the screen wondering why nothing was happening.  And that sold me.  My next laptop should have the touchscreen feature if I could get it.

The 12" screen is about as small as you want to go.  I loved my old Mac iBook.  But I was dismayed that Apple never came out with a 12" MBA.  I was never going to buy the 11" model.

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