Microsoft Surface Pro 3 after 2 Weeks

The Surface Pro 3 and I bonded since I brought it home. Core i7, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, and a fire engine red keyboard cover screamed “Buy ME!” in the Troy, MI Microsoft Store.

As an aside, when you go to the Microsoft Store in Troy, MI ask for Joe. Friendly, patient, knowledgeable, and the right kind of availability without hovering sets him up as my kind of sales associate or Microsoft-y or whatever they call their staff. Joe, well done!

This machine almost embodies my ideal:

  • Sharp, crisp screen
  • Snappy processor
  • Expandable storage in a micro SD card slot
  • USB 3
  • Mini Display Port
  • Responsive touch screen (something I’m still not sold on, more below)
  • Good stylus
  • OK keyboard cover (for $100+)

What is missing:

  • 16 GB RAM
  • Matte instead of glossy display
  • A right Control (Ctrl) key
  • A Menu key (I remapped Caps Lock to menu using AutoHotKey)
  • Less complicated & more foolproof touch interface/mouse emulation/virtual keyboard (more below)
  • Desktop and “Metro” app integration

Surprising items

I’m amazed at how much I like Windows 8.1. My pain points seem dealt with in Windows 10, so I’m looking forward to that. While this isn’t my daily work driver, I’m waiting for a more stable build before W10-ing this bad boy.

The keyboard (physical cover, not the on-screen) is surprisingly good. I miss the right control and menu keys as mentioned above. There’s room for them if the space bar shrinks and the arrow keys slim down.

Visio, Project, Office, and Visual Studio 2012 run well.

Some Metro-style apps like Nook & Kindle, NextgenReader, and Skype aren’t horrible.

Switching from OneNote to OneNote 2013 desktop works well. I recommend the move.

Microsoft cloud integration with OneNote, OneDrive, Office 2013, etc. is solid and stable.

Disappointments

Swapping Outlook 2013 desktop in for the default Mail app removes sharing functionality.

Skype runs better as a desktop app, though not with as sharp a look.

Evernote and Evernote Desktop do not share a common database.

The Windows key on the side of the display is inconveniently placed.

Only one USB port.

The LED on the power cord is BRIGHT – two layers of electrical tape to block it out bright.

No external battery option.

My keyboard cover trackpad seems to have an issue with the lower left click becoming stuck.

Recommendations

** Keyboard

  • Shrink left Control to “normal” size
  • Add right Control
  • Add Menu (on right)
  • Add right Windows (maybe?)
  • Shrink Spacebar
  • Shrink left and right arrow keys
  • Make Fn-Up Page Up and remove the F11 assignment
  • Make Fn-Down Page Down and remove the F12 assignment
  • Make Fn-Left Home and remove the F9 assignment
  • Make Fn-Right End and remove the F10 assignment
  • Assign, from F9 to F12:
  • Print screen
  • Scroll Lock
  • Number Lock (+ associated regular keys as number pad)
  • Insert
  • Make the function-key row the same size as regular keys
  • Add screen brightness controls
  • Make a second keyboard that includes a battery like the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2

** Bezel

Really, my only comment here is about the Windows button. If it becomes the right Windows key on the keyboard, retaining its current functionality but expanding its usefulness, I’m on board.

** Soft Keyboard

  • Add all modifier keys – Windows (Super), App (Menu), Alt, etc.
  • Gesture based typing
  • Modify the raise/lower/cancel

** Stylus

  • When one disables the touch screen, allow the stylus to use gestures
  • Add another configurable button, this one middle click by default

** Tablet interface

  • Do something useful with all that wasted space. It’s a wide-screen device!
  • Figure out a way to share data between the tablet and the desktop versions of the same app.