So it came as a bit of a surprise when my husband’s company gave him a Microsoft Surface 3 to use for work and travel. He’s not obligated to keep it forever, but thought it would be interesting to look more closely at other technology.
The first thing his IT group did was upgrade the Surface to Windows 10, which on the Surface, comes in two modes. Desktop mode and tablet mode. Microsoft claims the surface is a hybrid device, both a notebook and a tablet. In that regard Surface is a bit like an iPad Air and a MacBook Air rolled into one, actually less expensive device.
Microsoft announced last week that the company is selling more Surface notebook tablet hybrids than ever and I can understand why. It’s a compelling device. On paper. As a side note, Microsoft also announced Surface sales results which turned out to be less than Apple’s Watch during the first three months. Tech critics define success in different ways, I guess.
Alright, back to the Surface. First up, it actually feels good. They add-on keyboard has a good touch, and the screen is bright and crisp. That’s where the fun ends. It’s still Windows but to Microsoft’s credit they tout that as a good thing to compete with the Mac and OS X. It runs full-on Photoshop and Office.
As a notebook, the base Surface falls into the lower-middle class, not nearly as powerful as the new MacBook though it weighs about the same with the keyboard. It comes with only 64GB of storage, a feeble amount of RAM, an anemic Intel Atom CPU, but dual cameras (like on an iPad).
The Surface is a lightweight but inexpensive notebook that runs Windows 10 and Office in Desktop mode. Put the whole shebang into tablet mode, ditch the keyboard, and what you end up with is no iPad Air. As a tablet, Surface is thick and heavy and even the tablet mode in OS X is clumsy and unintuitive. This is not a tablet, or, if it is, it’s in the heavyweight division.
Surface has ports galore, but no HDMI output. It also features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and even with screen open and keyboard attached it feels much larger than an iPad Air. Surface comes with other configurations and options, too. More RAM and storage, plus a Surface pen, a number of keyboard colors, docking station, etc.
How does Surface feel to use? Clumsy. That’s partially because of Windows in Desktop mode, and partially because in Tablet mode Surface is just an overweight tablet, or a notebook without a keyboard. What’s interesting here is that Microsoft and market watchers tout Surface as a success but Apple Watch as a failure, though Apple made more money on Watch last quarter than Microsoft did with Surface.