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Microsoft's Surface: Tablets that make no Sense or Dollars

Microsoft's New Surface Pro 3 Thinks it's a Notebook

Microsoft introduced their new Surface Pro 3 this morning as you can see in the noted video. The key presenter was Panos Panay, Microsoft's Corporate VP for Surface. One of Panay's key points was that 96% of tablet owners also owned a notebook and that the new Surface 3 was the all-in-one solution at the same price of a notebook. The new Surface 3 is sold in three configurations depending on the processor you choose: iCore i3, i5 and i7. While some will like this Frankenstein of a device – I found it to be backward thinking.


HP has several models of Notebook-Tablet Hybrids that are first a notebook that just happens to have a display that easily detaches so you could use it as a tablet – like their Split x2 model. It's a sturdy and slick notebook with a double battery for all day usage. A newer model that's just around the corner will offer a 14" HD display.


Microsoft's Panay tried to make the case that the new Surface 3 was a better notebook than Apple's MacBook Air. That's when his presentation derailed. He tried everything he could to make that case. He even ridiculously put a MacBook Air on a scale to show that the Surface 3 was lighter – like that was a make-it or break-it feature.


As you can see below, the Surface 3's form factor is the Frankenstein of "Notebooks." Who wants to be caught using something that only a strange geek could love. To balance this thing you need a kickstand? And no matter how they try to reinvent the kickstand, it's still a bloody kickstand.


Then you have a disjointed flimsy keyboard. Seriously, why Microsoft allows Panay to continue with this ridiculous form factor is beyond me. Power users want their notebooks to look cool and they want them to be sturdy. This nerdy tool fails on all levels of design. If Apple's famed designer Jony Ive ever designed something this hideous we'd be calling for his head.


In the end, it's true; the Surface 3 really does make a statement. It says "I don't know what the heck I am." It's a form factor that only Microsoft could love.


2AF collage of Surface 3 images

On the positive side for some, there's an all new Surface Pen. It doesn't have the traditional latency issues (supposedly) as others do, so it feels more like a true pen. The pen works with Microsoft's Notes app and that has a cool new feature. You could use the new pen to jot down notes on your tablet and then hit a single button that sends your notes instantly to OneDrive. That makes all of your notes available to you on any device.


So if you're somebody who wants or needs the added advantage of using a smart pen with your tablet, then the Surface 3 is going to be tempting for you - especially if you're a die-hard PhotoShop artist. Adobe is working with Microsoft to deliver a new tablet version of Photoshop later this year.


While I doubt that many Macites will be tempted by this new unit, it always comes down to what an individual needs. I need and want a hybrid unit this year and HP's is the one I'm leaning towards.


Apple is keeping their options open for the future should this segment of the market begin to gain more market share over time. In April 2013 a patent application came to light showing that Apple has a hybrid notebook-tablet design on the back burner should they ever need it.


In the end, Microsoft may one day give up on this silly Surface form factor that really doesn't know what it is. If they ever get serious and challenge the MacBook Air the right way, more would find it appealing. But they're hell bent on making it a tablet that happens to pretend to be a notebook which is backward in my view.


If you want to give the new Surface 3 a fair shake for yourself, then you could either listen to the full Surface 3 Event right here or just browse its specifications here.


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