Coming up to my two year anniversary of working on the Surface Pro 3 I thought it would be a good as time as any to re-look at my experience of using this piece of tech. My original review The MS dream combo? was not entirely positive. So what has changed?
Firstly, the keyboard. The original Pro 3 keyboard was, to say the least, rubbish. The keys were too close together and mushy resulting in the delete key being the most used due to typing mistakes, however since that keyboard died I upgraded to the latest type cover. Chalk and cheese sum up the differences between them. The new type cover has island keys, with better travel, and is far more consistent to use. The trackpad is also a big step up in quality although I still use a Bluetooth mouse when practical.
I have also invested in a new Surface Pen, again disappointing me as it was due to equipment malfunction on the original. I am not a heavy pen user but even I can tell this new iteration is an upgrade to the original.
Despite upgrades to the software the battery life has not improved which has a big impact on the Surface being a “mobile” device. No point in being light and compact if you have to carry a charger around with you – 4.5 hours of real world use is not enough! The kickstand still works as well as the first day so no doubting the quality of the build in this respect.
Hardware though is only 50% of the story – what about the software? Having run Chrome OS on my personal laptops (see my blog on my Pixel LS) and the fluid way this works the opposite is my experience with Windows 10 and Office 2016.
When Office 2016 came out I thought at last Microsoft has understood that its users do not want heavy, time-consuming updates – usually at the most inauspicious times – and that all its cloud sharing services should interact seamlessly. Sadly, despite strides forward, this is still not the case. Chrome OS was born and developed in the cloud and it shows against the current Microsoft offering.
For example, the attachments in email cannot be saved to Sharepoint – they have to be downloaded to One Drive or a folder on the PC then re-uploaded to Sharepoint – completely unnecessary steps in my opinion. Editing files held in the cloud on One Drive or Sharepoint is still a hassle – normally forgetting to click on the editing button (which then gives options for editing in browser or desktop) is the first issue and then stability of the document on either is not great. Collaboration is also not as fluid and simple as Drive although this has improved with recent upgrades.
Recently, Outlook has started crashing on a daily basis (I must confess I am running an Insider version of the Creators update, therefore I do expect some bugs to surface on occasion) and the overall experience of Windows 10 compared to Chrome OS is poor for my user needs. If I have both the Pixel and Surface in arms reach I would choose the Pixel every time.
As with most tech it really comes down to what you use it for. For myself light photo editing, office suite work and general surfing with streaming (Spotify etc) then the Pixel LS is the best machine you can have. The addition of Andriod Apps, although still buggy and with scaling problems, will only enhance the Chrome OS proposition in time.
Perhaps one day I will upgrade to a “pure” Windows 10 machine – not one that I had to upgrade – and the experience may improve. What I do know, that as a consumer, competition is good and long may that continue with advancements on the Microsoft offering.