Jul 01 2014

Can the Surface Pro 3 Replace Your Notebook?

The latest version of Microsoft’s tablet doubles down on the IT industry’s effort to broaden the form factor’s appeal.

The hunt for the two-for-one special is on. No, this isn’t about a quest to find a fast-food deal of the week, this is about IT — more specifically, Microsoft’s ongoing effort to combine the tablet and notebook into one device.

The first version of Microsoft’s Surface Pro strived for this from the onset, but users have had difficulty letting go of their notebooks in favor of a tablet that acts like a notebook. But with each new version, the Surface Pro chips away further at the disadvantages of switching from a notebook to a tablet as a primary work device.

In his review of the Surface Pro 3 on the CDW Blog, CDW’s Nathan Coutinho noted that at 12 inches, the display is now comfortably on par with many smaller notebook computers.

But the biggest game changer for Coutinho isn’t the Surface Pro 3’s screen size, its the device’s significant improvements in digital note taking.

With the Surface Pro 3, digital inking is better, faster, more precise and you can take notes with your handwriting, draw diagrams and objects, share your notes on demand and sync them to all your devices straight to OneDrive. Sometimes it just takes time to get things right, and this finally does make me feel like we’re at the inflection point in digital note taking.

When InformationWeek spoke with IT leaders to get their take on the Surface Pro 3, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Vice President of Medical Information Technology Rasu Shrestha echoed Coutinho’s enthusiasm about the tablet’s pen accessory and note-taking features.

“It really has the best handwriting experience, closer to a paper experience than any other tablet I've ever used,” he said.

Seattle Children’s Hospital CIO Wes Wright raved about the latest version’s enhancements, including the kickstand, which Microsoft has long touted as an advantage of its device.

“The mobility of it, the lightness, the kickstand, the screen size,” said Wright. “It hits a bunch of our complaints from the originals [and] makes it much more viable in a health care setting.”

And end users aren’t the only ones excited about using the Surface Pro 3. Redmond Magazine interviewed a SharePoint admin to get his take on using the new device instead of a notebook for his work as an IT professional.

“Pretty much all of us professionals want or need both a laptop or desktop and a slate,” said Metalogix Director of Product Management Tamir Orbach. “It's so light that you can carry it anywhere you want and you would barely even feel it. And the screen is big enough, the resolution is good, the functionality is powerful enough to be used as our day-to-day computer.”