What tablets should be: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 reviewed

Also missing in action is the keyboard, because rather than include the keyboard inside the box, the improved Type Cover is still an optional extra, even though we’re pretty sure most people would prefer Microsoft to just flat out bundle this in since you’ll want it to be, you know, uber-productive.

You can still use the old Type Cover keyboard with the Surface Pro 3 if you would like to, a move which could help to save some money (even if it does bring a less impressive experience), but it will not cover the Surface Pro 3 up when closed the way it did the Surface Pro 1 or 2, thanks to the 3’s larger screen size.

If you so choose, you can even mount the old Surface Type Cover to the Surface Pro 3. We wouldn't, but you can.

Basically, if you’re going with the Pro 3 and are anticipating doing some typing, expect to fork out another $149 for the Type Cover for that, factoring that into the overall cost. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not much, especially since you’re likely already paying so much for the Surface in the first place.

That said, we’ll be curious to see how long the new Type Cover keyboard lasts for. On the Surface Pro 2 in the past not-quite-year, we’ve written half a book and countless reviews, among the hundreds of emails and notes we’ve taken, and only in the past few weeks has it begun to feel like it is wearing away, with some of the keys deciding not to work.

Time will tell if the same will happen to the Surface Pro 3 Type Cover, and we’ll let you know when it does.

Using the Surface Pro 2 Type Cover looks silly when closed, but it does work.

Our other quibble is one we hope you never encounter, because it’s a bug that can seriously leave you unnerved and concerned for your device and data contained inside: the Microsoft Surface power bug.

Apparently, the Surface Pro has a few different power states, and every so often when it goes to standby and needs to be revived later on, it doesn’t quite make it out of its deep sleep mode. When this happens, you’ll find the power button doesn’t do much, leaving the system off and unpowered, even if there is plenty of battery life, as we experienced once during the review period. It doesn’t matter what you do either; you’ll frantically hold down the power button, stop, try again, stop, try again, and hope that it does, yes, this time, return to life.

For the most part, the solution came from a bit of web searching and some playing around with standard tablet reset keys, with the answer presenting itself by removing the Type Cover keyboard and holding the volume rocker in the up position while holding the power down for between 12 and 15 seconds.

At last, the screen flickered to life, the Surface logo re-appearing and hope returning to our tablet.

As we said, we hope this doesn’t happen to you, and the fact that few reviews have had this listed tells us it’s a rare bug, but it’s one of those bugs that really does need to be patched up later on, so Microsoft, when you’re ready, please release a patch for this heart-stopping one.

Size differences.

Conclusion

Whenever a manufacturer releases a third product in a series, reviewers like to use the term “third time lucky” or “third time the charm,” and why not? This is a phrase that everyone uses, as it usually describes that third time being the time when all the bugs, or the important problems having been ironed out.

We even said it in the intro to this review, but Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 doesn’t necessarily deserve that intro, nor does “third time lucky” need to be mentioned.

The simple fact was in the Surface Pro 2, Microsoft made huge improvements to the Surface Pro base, resulting in a solid portable 10 inch tablet made for more than just watching movies.

In its latest incarnation, one of the best 10 inch tablets is now one of the best tablets hands down, and Microsoft’s third Surface Pro is easily one of the company’s best products to date, with attention paid to pretty much all aspects, and an improvement across the board.

We're not kidding about the Surface Pro 3 being thinner. Surface Pro 3 on the left, Surface Pro 2 on the right.

Windows is easy to use here, the hardware is great, and overall, it feels like you can get some work done. You can also stop doing work and watch movies or play some games, and while the Windows Store could still do with some games made for that not-quite-Metro interface, there are plenty of other games you can download.

But it’s an excellent computer, and that’s all there is to it.

Thinner, lighter, well-built, and made to work: this is what tablets of the future should all be like.

Good luck getting me to stop using it.

Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Reader Rating0 Votes
Stylus included in the box; Fantastic screen; Excellent build; The stand is incredibly tight and very versatile; Improved power connector; Louder sound; New TypeCover keyboard is even better than before; Power supply still includes an extra USB port for charging that phone of yours;
Still very few ports available on the unit; No keyboard included in the box;
4.7

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  1. Thanks very much for the great review. I’m currently carrying around a 1.5kg laptop and an 800g iPad4 for note taking and media consumption, I’ve been waiting for an eternity for this hybrid factor to finally hit its strides. Currently I have to carry around circa 2.3kg to do the same thing that this can do with 800g ! As a regular traveler, this is indeed massive leap forward and I know that business users will revel with this device and its Office integration. The all round lightweight ability and the pen are most definitely the key highlights here.
    Microsoft is definitely on the right track and I wish them a lot of success with this product as they’ve lost a money on the way trying to get it right.

  2. I’ve read in another review that the two cameras don’t have auto focus. This seems a ridiculous ommission. Your comments?

    1. We tried this yesterday and they don’t appear to have auto-focus on board, no.

      Not sure why the omission, to be honest. Strikes us as odd, but I’m not big on tablet cameras as it is.

      That said, yes, it should be in here. One has to wonder whether it is and the firmware hasn’t been enabled yet.

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Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Final Score