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Surface 3 Update (penny-arcade.com)
154 points by chokolad on Nov 2, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 86 comments



I do like the Surface 3; it's a lovely piece of hardware, Windows 8.1 is an improvement, and for a desktop OS, the touch interface is pretty good. It's the best Windows computer I've ever owned, but I still turn to my Linux laptop for coding; the tooling and packaging for the languages I use just isn't really there on Windows.

That said, they need to improve their messaging - this is the first time, as a Surface 3 owner, that I've heard about this Surface Hub app that lets me adjust my pen sensitivity (and I've wanted that for a while!).


>"but I still turn to my Linux laptop for coding; the tooling and packaging for the languages I use just isn't really there on Windows"

What have worked for me so far is having an Ubuntu VM on Hyper-V. I works really well and I have never noticed that is virtualized instead of being running natively.


If I still ran Windows as my OS, I'd use a Surface 3 as my primary device. It really does strike a great balance of power user features, but that makes it hard to market unfortunately.


Pen pressure adjustment is new as of a week or so ago.


It's a nice toy. I have the big bad 8gb RAM, 500gb SSD that work paid for. As a pretty much exclusively .net/visual studio dev, the experience for development, while the machine is powerful enough to handle it, is utterly abysmal. Visual Studio and SQL server (which uses the VS shell) does not support touch screens in any sensible or usable way. I'm not asking for gesture rich smart windows here, just being able to scroll a text editor with one finger. Every other MS app on there seems ok, just not the VS based ones. Nothing but text selecting when you're expecting to scroll. The physical keyboard is too flexible and cramped to use on your lap - despite all the marketing videos claims, and probably my single biggest annoyance is that when that physical typecover is installed, it still pops up the soft keyboard every time you touch a textbox, anywhere. That, and if your soft keyboard isn't set up right, many times it will take maximized or docked left/right windows and resize them, only to leave them resized once the keyboard goes away again.

So while I love to hear people say it's good for "creating content", as long as that content is a drawing, that might be true, but if that "content" is any kind of written work, spreadsheet, or coding task, it's almost useless.

Also, the version of OneNote that comes with it is so handicapped that it also borders on useless. For the price of these things and the advertisement of having Office on them, the pared down versions were a big disappointment.


Your complaints in the first paragraph, while valid, come from trying to use VS and/or other text input tools with touch - (correct me if I'm wrong). I'd be interested to also hear about your experiences with using it 'normally'. I.e. if you just put the surface+keyboard on a desk or your lap and treat it as a laptop without using touch, how usable is it for VS and the likes?


That's what I meant to say with the part about the flimsy/flexible typecover. It's quite tough to type using it on a lap, and the touchpad isn't very easy to use either. I tried the combo of typecover and pen - that was closest to most usable, but still just fell short. The other problem is that you're trying to balance a small (in width) stand between two legs, which practically meant squeezing my thighs together to not have it fall between them.

It's decent enough on a table top though, if used like a traditional laptop and you have a mouse or are patient enough with the pen.


Thanks for the info. I always had the impression the type cover was meant to be the proper 'lap' counterpart of the touchcover in that it would be sturdier etc but appears that is not the case. Thats not so nice. Still in the market for one though, I think. Let's see what the Surface Pro 4 brings :]


I doubt my development experiences are as intense as the OPs (I'm still a student), but it works just fine for me "normally" for all of my dev needs. I spent the extra $200 and grabbed a 27" monitor to help out at home, which accelerates productivity a lot though.

It's good enough to do homework and small programming assignments on the go, but I really appreciate extra screen realestate when making android/wp apps.


> scrolling with one finger

even on a regular touch pad you can't scroll with one finger.

on a text editor is pretty much rather move the cursor/select with one finger


re: soft keyboard popping up.

I've never had this problem, but I've heard its a bug in chrome on surfaces (I'm using Firefox). Are you talking about textboxes in web pages, or textboxes in VS?

edit: also the SP line was never advertised as having office on it. But I agree the presentation of the differences between earlier surfaces was confusing.


thanks. your comment about keyboard showing up even when you have a physical one will save me time. won't even bother to see the device now.


Well, what he describes has never happened to me.


dammit. best buy here i come.


Kudos to Microsoft for going out of their way to support and improve an important product after launch. Microsoft certainly has a history of doing this with their larger initiatives like XBox, but in the PC industry, this kind of post product improvement isn't so common.

When was the last time you saw Dell really iterate on a product post launch in a meaningful way.

To revive the PC market, Microsoft needs to do what Apple did for the last 15 or so years - stop treating PC like a commodity market where you ship beige boxes to customers without much care to differentiation or a delightful end user experience.

Surface is easily the most interesting PC I've seen in probably 10 years in Windows' ecosystem. I hope Microsoft sticks with it.


Delightful end user experience you say? I happened to be visiting my father and to my surprise he pulled out a Surface 3. He turned it on and it ... spent 90 minutes rolling back some service pack because Dad had had the temerity to put the device to sleep when the service pack was being installed. Needless to say, all the end users in the family were delighted by this endless administrivia.


What happens if you power off an iPad (or any other device, for that matter) in the middle of a system update?

Atleast his mistake didn't brick it and Windows was smart enough to make sure that didn't happen.


Powering off is not the same as putting the device to sleep.

Windows offers a menu option to the user to sleep the device during the update. That is a design fault.


There is at least one good reason to do so. Imagine that you're installing an update and notice that your battery is so low it won't finish before it dies. Surely sleeping is better than allowing a loss of power?

In the worst case, the update is rolled back, which wastes time, but it's better than risking file system corruption due to loss of power.

Even if you don't get corruption, data loss is likely. For instance, you may have been browsing HN when power goes out. Will your browser's crash recovery carefully restore the comment you've been typing for the last 17 minutes? Maybe yes, but is every program you're running so careful?

This is not a design fault, at least in my opinion.


Other devices (e.g. iOS) will warn you if you try to start an update with low battery power, so you can't make this mistake in the first place. Besides, the device itself can spot a low battery (and act on it to ensure the system stays consistent), so why does there need to be a user option to put the device to sleep during the upgrade?

My guess is that Microsoft didn't think about this at all, leading to the rubbish user experience.


It doesn't just warn you, it prevents you from making that mistake.


It's certainly a design fault:

1. How can the user know how much battery power is required to complete the update? If they don't know, they can't utilize the option effectively.

2. If the system knows, why not let the system manage the sleep behavior? iOS won't let you start an update if there isn't enough power to complete it.

3. Why would there be sudden loss of power leading to data loss? Surely the system can determine when the battery is at a low level, and a) Warn the user a few minutes before they need to stop working, and b) Provide the applications with an orderly shutdown sequence. Guess what? iOS does both of these.

This is certainly a design fault. Your scenario doesn't change that. It merely offers that this feature is needed in order to work around other design faults.


> What happens if you power off an iPad (or any other device, for that matter) in the middle of a system update?

You don't. During the critical period, it won't let you. I mean, you can hold both power and home for several seconds to force it off, but if you're regularly powering off your iPad that way, something is seriously wrong...


Absolutely not true.

My iPad was unplugged by my kid during an update and the iPad shut off.

2 weeks later I had my iPad back from he Apple Store after it was bricked.

What I'm saying is that PICNIC will happen no matter what device your using. Calling out MS for rolling back after a user mistake just shows you aren't a fan of MS and will jump at any chance to knitpick them.


I am quite impressed with the surface pro 3. But because of their awful marketing I'm actually embarrassed to admit I own a surface pro 3. When those terrible commercials come on when I'm around friends I feel compelled to explain the merits of the device.


maybe that's the plan, forced word-of-mouth through the use of corny advertising!


Since I suspect not many artists lurk around here, let me just say this: the newly updated pressure curves make a _huge_ difference. It was one of the few complaints I had with the device. As it is, it's an almost perfect tool for artists. Say what you will about Microsoft, but this is a fine machine.


Have they improved the pen tracking? For example, using a ruler can you slowly draw straight lines at a 45 degree angle? [0]

In my experience with the SP3, the N-Trig pen tracking was far inferior to the Wacom pen in the earlier Surfaces. The poor tracking made my handwriting unacceptably sloppy-looking. I'm surprised artists can use it, but maybe you use mostly faster and longer pen strokes?

[0] http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/surfpro3-su...


I'd really like to get a surface pro 3 at some point for on the og type stuff. I really like literally sketching things out and when I tried the surface at best buy I loved the feel. I'm doing a lot to learn higher math that I never did and it seemed pretty great for that too

As a side note, one thing I've noticed on hn is actually a lot more love for what Microsoft does right than I might have first predicted. That's not to say that it's all great all the time but level heads opinions seem to surface pretty quickly. I'm not in love with ms myself, but I really like and appreciate a lot of what they're responsible for, which includes the surface. Going to have to get one.


As an artist, I still found the surface pro 3 heats up after using it for longer than 30 minutes, making drawing on the screen uncomfortable. I still have my surface pro 1, and it's usable with a glove, but I generally don't like drawing with gloves.

It's not a problem that I have with my Cintiq Companion Hybrid. I hope Microsoft fixes the heat issue at some point.


What battery setting do you use? My Pro 2 does not heat up very often.


This is the reason I hope Apple guys mac a pen tablet, they are the only ones that take heating seriously, even at the application level.

Microsoft has so much legacy code when the mantra was "it does not matter how inefficient the computer is if development is fast", or "people just can add bigger batteries to laptops and the problem is solved".


>> This is the reason I hope Apple guys mac a pen tablet, they are the only ones that take heating seriously, even at the application level.

While I agree with you on Apple coming out with a pen, I totally disagree with you on the heating thing. My 2011 Macbook Pro is pretty notorious for heating issues resulting in crashes and gpu problems. A class action lawsuit was finally launched this week over those issues.


they are the only ones that take heating seriously

You sure about that? Had a Macbook Pro (2008 or 2009, don't recall) and when doing serious work on it I could just bear it on my lap, but it ran hot enough that I was beginning to fear for my sperm count. And definitely hotter than the Dell Xps running Windows I got after it, for doing similar work. Dunno if Apple improved on that point now, but it doesn't seem (to me) they were always ahead of the rest or so.


Surface (and other high quality windows tabs i might not be aware of) are the only tablet is suitable for traditional PC work.

Other tablets are thinner, sleeker, lighter, or easier to use for CONSUMING content, but they're a poor substitute for creating content.


I have created a lot of content (markdown, TeX, drawings, HTML, Python code) on my iPad 1, and I am following through with my newer iPad Air. If I have a very long piece to write I always go to my laptop, but for revisions or for initial drafting I much prefer the iPad. My experience with Android devices is shorter, but they also seem decent to create text and in some cases, decent enough drawings.

If suddenly my laptop stopped working the only thing I'd miss from day-to-day work would be compiling go. With a VPS, I could easily work with only my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard.


I have had the same experience: writing on my iPads (II and then mini) has been just fine with markdown files in Dropbox and using the lean pub publishing system. Admittedly my standards for working a little more slowly than with my laptop are probably a little lax. I also write and edit on my Android phone although it is not as facile as using an iPad.

I use my laptop for software development (mostly Lisp languages, Haskell, and Ruby). Otherwise I like mobile devices.


That's a silly attitude that even Microsoft isn't pushing anymore. How do you rationalize it against the rumored upcoming Office support for iOS and Android?


I can tell you that even my Nexus 7 is rather abysmal at handling Google Docs documents. The Bluetooth keyboard connection is flaky at best, gets much worse when Wi-Fi is turned on (which makes working on a cloud document rather inconvenient), the typing often lags far behind the keyboard, it's hard to do anything beyond the basics (e.g. I actually need footnotes to cite things in the work I'm doing), etc. etc.

I haven't used a Surface but from Mike K.'s description it certainly seems like it could better handle some of those tasks. Maybe Lollipop will help, but I won't be able to tell until the OTA loads.


That might be true in the future, but speaking from the present, this is how it is.

For perspective, I have written Android apps using AIDE on a Nexus 7 and Nexus 5. I also manipulate docs and spreadsheets using google's systems (which are adequate for making quick edits, but not something i would sit down and write with for an extended amount of time).


I think that the AIDE IDE is a great piece of work! Admittedly, I have only created fairly trivial apps using the template projects, but it is amazing to be able to compile Java code and create a bundled Android application on my Android phone.

It seems to bother my son a great deal that I have always used Android phones and never an iPhone. It is the availability of things like AIDE that make an Android phone also functional as a "real computer."


MS Office for iOS has been out for a while, those apps are excellent and fully touch enabled. you can download them for free, use the for reading and presenting files. edit mode is available through a office365 subscription.

mind you, MS Office for WinModern does not exist - no touch UI there. but it does for iOS. absolutely amazing.


iOS on iPad, especially after the redesign in iOS 7, has always felt like it was merely scaled up from iPhone. Because, for the most part, it was. I believe Apple could do a lot more with iPad UI to make it more suitable for larger screen sizes and content creation. Rumors about things like split screen multitasking make me hopeful, though.


It seems like quite the reckless statement to claim that tablets you are not aware of are suitable for something.


The primary utility is the Operating System.

It's designed to be manageable with traditional desktop apps.

I can't speak to how well other manufacturers get the hardware to work with the software, but if Microsoft can get it right I assume others can too.


Perhaps you might consider sticking to making recommendations about things that you know, instead of stuff you just assume; builds more credibility.


"Other tablets are thinner, sleeker, lighter, or easier to use for CONSUMING content, but they're a poor substitute for creating content."

This is what was said of the graphical interface at first, when all the serious applications for creating content were on the command line.

Who uses VisiCalc, Lotus 123 or Wordperfect in the command line anymore?

About creating content, it depends on what you do for a living.

I prefer to talk to my wordprocessor than typing, I prefer to stand with my tablet in my hand when I give a presentation that a computer. A tablet is much better for multiple people looking at the screen that having to move the people to a fixed screen or a laptop with fixed movement.


> I prefer to talk to my wordprocessor than typing

I'm on the opposite site. If I have a keyboard at hand, I'd never think of using voice recognition. For most people who have ever used a keyboard voice recognition is not an advance, it's a limitation of damage that the lack of a proper keyboard is doing.

However, my father hates typing on his iPhone, so he proudly talks to his phone. Works surprisingly well. Sometime the mails are really funny :-). But it's nowhere as fast or easy comapared to my sister typing at good speed (also on an iPhone).


The voice software on the iPhone is from Nuance, the company that makes Dragon Naturally Speaking. It's actually pretty good. I often use it to write emails, for example. It does go wonky at times. The one thing that is missing is the advanced editing abilities found in the commercial products, which quickly allows you to make corrections. e.g. 'scratch that'

With the commercial packages, voice probably wins over typing, or at least it's very close. See David Pogue's Dragon Dictate Review:

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/hello-computer-speak-your-text-wi...

Additionally, I believe John Siracusa uses Dragon Dictate to write his lengthy (20,000+ words) Mac OS X reviews.

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2013/10/os-x-10-9/23/

Anyway, I don't know if Microsoft rolls their own voice recognition software but providing a more advanced version in the Surface would definitely be a huge plus. Next generation voice software would attract an entirely new audience to the Surface.

In fact, the people who prefer voice to keyboards is probably 100 times larger. Microsoft should optimize for the larger audience.


>Who uses VisiCalc, Lotus 123 or Wordperfect in the command line anymore?

Well... R-stats and ggplot are pretty popular still...


Not strictly answering your question, but I find myself regularly using ed(1) to make quick changes to files.


Just today I was at a Microsoft Store and played with a Surface Pro 3 for the first time. I was quite impressed and almost bought it but when I looked up on the internet about running Ubuntu on it, there are few un-resolved issues. Such as the bluetooth doesn't work or wifi only works for the 2.4GHz networks. Overall I was impressed with the hardware, and would totally get one in the future when it's possible to run Ubuntu on it.


Nice! I bought Surface Pro, thanks to Penny Arcade. I have 17" laptop with intuos 5 for heavy painting, but surface with manga studio is my go to for sketching and drawing. Manga studio with its brush engine really simulates real life drawing way better than PS. Specially on Surface Pro.

I decided to go with surface 1, because of the price and how next ones have not evolved so much. Around 400 euros gets you a decent, quite comparable with the latest ones. I would prefer bigger screen, but it is not 500 euro difference need. couple of things that still annoy me:

-border accuracy with the pen is awful

-touch keyboard is useless rubbish. Even on-screen is better, I didn't know it doesn't have real buttons before I purchased it.

-original pen has only one button(would not be problem without the next one)

-no intuitive way of using modifier keys while drawing/missing modifier keys and this slows everything way down. Maybe there is way to remap volume buttons, haven't tried it yet.

If you are thinking of getting one, take get surface 1 off from the ebay. It is cheap, if you don't like it, you don't lose money when reselling. It is not a tablet, it is a laptop, with tablet capabilities.


> If you are thinking of getting one, take get surface 1 off from the ebay.

This is really bizarre advice, especially given that most of your complaints do not apply to the Surface Pro 3.

"border accuracy with the pen is awful" - SP3 uses an entirely different pen technology

"touch keyboard is useless rubbish" - Get the type cover instead. I'm pretty sure the touch cover isn't even manufactured for the SP3.

"original pen has only one button" - Not the case for the SP3.

Disclosure: Microsoft employee


As I mentioned, the price difference is quite big. Getting Surface Pro 1 to see, does the laptop-tablet style even works, seems reasonable. If it works, there is always possibilty to sell and invest more. 1000+ is not the money I have to spend without knowing does thing work for me, for example. Personally I didn't have a chance to see it before purchase, as it is not sold here.

As Penny Arcade said, the new technology wasn't as good(until now apparently) as old wacom.

Touch keyboard was mentioned, because I made a mistake and assumed it is usable, while it could have been avoided.

overall, I am happy how it performs and other people who draw daily, also love it.

sorry if I am confusing


if you don't mind a bit of added bulk, I'd highly recommend the battery cover over the type cover. the SP1's battery life is not the greatest, and the added life the battery cover provides is well worth the premium.


I was looking into it, yes. it seemed the best option. havent got around to order one just yet.


Have had my SP3 for more than a month now and I'm so happy I bought one. I've seen the previous models and read Penny Arcade reviews previously and was never quite sold on it. I went to MS's TechEd conference and had a play with one.. Everything just worked. It's better than any laptop I've owned and more convenient to boot. I wasn't even sold on Windows 8 prior to this, but now - bring on the change!

The drawbacks: It runs hot. If you're watching a movie, it'll be fanning full speed. Having screen brightness to max will drain your battery in <4 hours. The kick stand is great but after a month of use it's no longer got that perfect rigid movement it once had, it moves slightly (< 2cm on the end) from what position I put it in. Paying separately for the keyboard which in my opinion is essential, and too pricey was annoying - but it's good quality and very nice to use. The end of the pen nib wears easily, however you can contact MS Support for free replacements.

That's it. In the scheme of things that's piss all drawback for a mobile device. I'd put the engineering behind it next to that of my Nexus 5 phone. It just works.


The thing I disliked about my surface (owned a surface pro 1) was the lack of touch integration and Windows.

Touch integration - someone mentioned for VS/SQL server that the touch is horrible to even view text. The reality is that almost every application is broken by default. Only recently have Chrome and Firefox been useful with touch. The beautiful experience in IE and Explorer were the only places where that happened. It really sucked to be held back from doing something because the system started to fight me.

Windows - The above complain is more specific, but this is more my disdain for the Windows Platform. There aren't good touch OS alternatives to Windows for the surface, so Windows stays, and it's not very good at open source things. I prefer Linux, or even OS X like I am using now, over Windows and the surface.

~That said, I do like the surface if these things can be fixed Pros of the surface: - The pen really was amazing, OneNote used it perfectly - Gaming wasn't perfect, but it was pretty powerful for the size as well ... There's more but I need to do things. I've listed my complaints.

(screw reading through what I wrote. Post!)


I've been taking a real hard look at it's gaming capabilities. Technically it's sound specifications wise that indicates it shouldn't have major problems with gaming with the exception of the Intel Iris Pro GPU which in many demos has show to be a pretty capable graphics processor. Yet there are details of the GPU that simply don't make sense for example how can it score so low on general firestrike benchmarks yet run League of Legends and Assassin's creed at 90FPS. It's even been tested playing WoW at 120 FPS in some instances yet a game that wouldn't at first guess be so demanding like Diablo 3 runs at a unexplainable low 20FPS, what makes that specific game so different? My guess is Particle or general physics which the GPU doesn't handle well however Starcraft 2 seems to run just fine which in my option should be the same as Diablo 3. Also most games are designed to default to CPU processing if bullet or PhysX options are not available. Maybe someone else can unravel this mystery.


It could have something to do with CPU throttling, though I'm sure there are other factors at play. Once the temperature crosses the threshold, performance will deteriorate significantly. My guess is the better performing games operating below threshold.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC8rCeDMqFw


I have heard that Ubuntu works "OK" (which I interpret as "barely tolerable") on a Surface Pro 3. Does anyone have firsthand experience with that or another Linux distro on that hardware?

I have also heard of people running Ubuntu via VirtualBox or HyperV on a Surface Pro 3, which I'd expect to work as well as anything else.


the touch screen experience itself will give you the biggest trouble; the hardware itself is pretty compatible.

use of a touch-screen centric DE/WM (unity) would be advised, but other than that it should be OK.


I've been using a Surface Pro 3 for a few days. I bought it to eventually replace my laptop of 4 years, a ThinkPad W500 running Linux (Ubuntu, then Linux Mint Debian Edition).

For now I'm using it with Windows 8.1, and Ubuntu under VirtualBox. Supposedly Hyper-V would run faster but it disables Connected Standby so I'm sticking with VirtualBox until I get around to installing Ubuntu for dual-boot.

First thing I did in Windows was disable indexing and other background processes and it runs quiet and just warm most of the time (i7, 8GB RAM, 512 GB SSD). I'm happy with it in this aspect, the fan comes up some times but so does the W500, and the noise is much less intrusive. The T41 and W500 I've used have an annoying "yaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu" sound, worse for the T41 in my recollection, but the Surface has a constant white noise that bothers me much less.

Then I installed Firefox, GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, and Emacs. They work very well. Still no pressure sensitivity in GIMP, even after installing N-Trig's WinTab drivers, both 64 and 32 bit versions, so I would not lose anything by using them under Linux, but the graphics under VirtualBox is quite slow, even with 3D acceleration enabled.

The pen is very accurate, the smaller parallax compared to Wacom helps in using it as a mouse, but for freehand drawing it's still worse, compared to a Wacom Intuos 3 (external USB) and to a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition. I tried using the Galaxy Note as my main computer since I'm compiling in remote machines most of the time anyway, but I'm very disappointed with Android. Linux console applications work fine after you install one of the Debian chroots, but I've tried a GIMP-Inkscape-Xserver[1] bundle app for Android and the re-drawing is uselessly slow.

[1] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.gimp.inksc...

The biggest problem with the pen, now that pressure curves can be adjusted, is the wavy diagonal lines. This is not visible at 1:1 zoom, but when drawing freehand in Inkscape, when you zoom in it's absolutely obvious and you need to adjust the spline handles everywhere. I normally draw curves by adding the points one by one though, so for me it's fine.

I find the type cover excellent given the constraints. It's not as good as the W500, sure, but it's good enough for constant writing and programming with Emacs. It's better than the ThinkPad Tablet Folio Keyboard (USB) that I modified to remove the cover part. I'm considering getting a ThinkPad Compact USB keyboard because some of my usage involves positioning the tablet as a monitor, separated from the keyboard.

The touch screen is great and it's surprisingly easy to use normal applications just with your fingers. Not great, but I find it much more accurate than the Galaxy Note.

I've tried other combinations before to have both a retina-class display and Linux in a portable package: Toshiba AC-100 with Lubuntu + iPad 3 which was OK for LaTeX and then visualizing and browsing in the iPad, Samsung Chromebook 3 (ARM) + iPad which was an improvement for browsing on the laptop and console use (Ubuntu with crouton) and still allowed me to use LUKS encrypted external storage which Android doesn't, then Galaxy Note 10.1 with Debian chroot as mentioned above, and now the Surface.

My impression is that once I get it to boot in Linux with the type cover [2], bluetooth and 5GHz WiFi working it'll finally cover all my needs.

[2] there is a kernel patch already for it


Do you think that this would make sense for a typical Linux tiling window manager / text mode user?

The form factor is great. I'd like something that i can place in my desk, a bit far away from me, and attach a usb keyboard to. Much better ergonomics than a laptop.

For occasional use, I can use a soft keyboard when it's converted to tablet mode.


I'm using an SP3 to run i3, Arch (native, not in a VM). Dual booting when I need Adobe in windows. Didn't even have to disable secure boot.

I am keeping notes on the process here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dX6WJ7GLwva58cTh8cCB13us... (note the outstanding bug about the power/hardware buttons).

Here it is driving a 34" ultrawide: http://i.imgur.com/oXLJkpP.jpg

I found that there are a couple critical tweaks for me to be able to move back and forth between comfortable external and internal usage. If you give the SP3 a go, I'd be happy to share further notes/thoughts on this. Basically, I detect the current DPI when launching a terminal and set the font size accordingly so I'm not doing it manually (not that font size adjustment is hard, but it's critical to a smooth workflow to have things just work right). Same for browser launching. chrom{e,ium} needs to have a flag specifying the UI scaling at launch for me to use it comfortably on the internal display vs external.


Awesome! I'll try to get one from my employer. Or do you think it's worth waiting for a SP4 with a Broadwell Core M?


I long ago gave up on waiting for the next version of anything. That being said, I love power savings and if I stick with this setup (SPro with a mechanical keyboard) I will eventually switch to a Broadwell Core M model when it comes out.

I can get about 6-7 hours of battery on the SP3 under Arch, maybe more if I worked at it. I'm happy enough with it for now. Coming from a MBP15" (circa 2011) that had fans like a jet engine, even the loudest fan noise from the SP3 doesn't really phase me.

What does bother me a bit is the outstanding bug on the hardware button support.

If you are on the fence, you could reasonably wait for broadwell and this button driver issue to get worked out. I'm comfortable with the setup as is, but it's certainly bleeding edge :)


I'm more concerned about fan noise. I'm using a MBA 11'' 2012 which is completely silent 100% of the time, as I run everything in servers.

Is the SP3 silent under light loads, video chatting, driving an external panel, etc?


I'm on the 34" external right now running about 60 tabs in chrome, some vim sessions, and a paused google music tab, and it's silent (no fan noise at all).


Sounds great. Stupid question, but is it possible to use a soft keyboard while in text mode?


Not sure if you mean the microsoft surface keyboard or an onscreen keyboard. I don't use the ms keyboard covers at all, haven't even purchased one (mechanical usb keyboards instead). I know there have been issues running the surface pro keyboards under linux, but don't know the current status.

On screen keyboards seem to work fine but I haven't put much effort into configuring, just tested.


If I didn't answer your question, feel free to ping me on email. There's a non trivial amount of tweaking I did to make this thing run the way I want.


Thanks, I will talk to my employer about this. They're quite slow. But I will eventually reach you through the contact details in the Google Drive document in case I want to figure out something.


I still think the Pro 2 is a better compromise, esp. when you consider the price difference these days. You can get an i5 128GB for around 1/2 the price of the Pro 3 i7. The i5 doesn't get hot, too.


It wouldn't cost much to hire some recent illustration or design school grads and have them do nothing but test the Surface all day and give feature and usability suggestions. Asking a busy person like the Penny Arcade artist to offer suggestions right before the ship date, and then use his suggestions in post-ship date fixes is just half assed.


I would like to buy a Surface Pro 2* to use with Ubuntu. Do you think it makes sense?

* I specifically like a smaller sized Surface. Unless Microsoft will release a compelling update for a 10.6" model, I will stick with SP2.


No. I don't think Ubuntu can be installed with all required drivers to run properly. But that's more a guess. Also, the GUI of Windows 8.1 is quite nice for hybrid touch/mouse usage. So, for best and easiest GUI (touch or mouse)interaction Win 8.1 is better, but:

Linux shines with it's shells. The bash is by far the most productive environment I've ever used. Just install Virtual Box and run Ubuntu in it.


> absolutely no experience on the topic being discussed.

> still has an answer.

:)

https://jaxbot.me/articles/running-ubuntu-on-a-surface-pro-2...

the surface is a PC like any other. wacom even works out of the box. you just have some trouble with pressure settings. Touch screen is also a done deal on almost all windows laptops. never saw one not working in recent times. the wifi and audio are the usual suspects of linux hell. and in this case it was true, as it always is. but both could be worked around with know-to-work USB devices. though wifi seems to have been solved.

anyway, the link has a video.


NB: At least some people do manage to successfully install a usable Ubuntu on Surface Pro 2: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2183946

I hoped it will become more straightforward as time goes, but it still remains to be seen.


I really disagree with how MS pushes this device (laptop + tablet).

IMHO it's a lot better to look at it like a desktop machine which can transform to a tablet.

Instead of buying the type cover, think using the cash on the docking station instead. 8gigs RAM + i5/7 + SSD + 2 monitors + ethernet + full keyboard and a mouse. And you can unplug it to read/annotate pdfs, write OneNotes in meetings and other tablet perks.

If you can afford it, buy the cover too. It's nice in some situations where you might need the keyboard on the go, although I wouldn't expect too much from it.


The tablet itself already had USB and DisplayPort. Just buy a USB keyboard and Ethernet adapter, and you get everything you listed for way less than $220 the docking station costs.


Seconded. The official docking station is nice but you can basically do the same via the USB port


dock stations were never bought by cost conscious consumers. it is corporate spending, exclusively.


OTOH, I really wish they released a Service Pack 2 for Windows 7. It takes over 4 hours to download and install all the updates since SP1. I understand they want all of us to upgrade to Windows 8, but not at the cost of making existing user's life difficult


You can always slipstream the updates onto the installation media yourself.




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