Monday, April 06, 2015

Microsoft Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3, What's the Difference?

In my previous post, I mentioned that I was looking at purchasing an ultra-portable to replace my now tired luggable Dell laptop computer. In that post I briefly looked at the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 first released on 20 June 2014 and ranging in price from $799 to $1949 depending on the processor and internal RAM and storage options, and the Apple MacBook 2015 to be released on April 10 at a price of $1,299. I mentioned that my preference was to go with the Surface Pro 3. But now Microsoft has just announced a new Surface device, named Surface 3 and this new 2-in-1 tablet/laptop is to be released on May 5. So how does the new Surface 3 ultrabook compare with the Surface Pro 3?

Microsoft | Surface | Surface 3 | Surface Pro 3 | Windows | Tablet | Laptop | Ultra-portable
The Microsoft Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 Ultraportables

Screen Display

The Surface Pro 3 has a bright 12-inch Full HD Plus touchscreen with a resolution of 2,160 x 1,440 pixels whereas the Surface 3 has a smaller 10.8-inch Full HD Plus screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1280 pixels and with the same web-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio as the 12-inch SP3. So the Surface 3 has a smaller screen size and a marginally lower screen resolution but both use the same ClearType HD display technology. Therefore, while the Surface 3 screen will not be as sharp as that on the Surface Pro 3, the Surface 3 will certainly compete well with most tablets and 11-inch laptops on the market.

Size and Weight

When compared to the Surface Pro 3 at 292 x 201 x 9.1mm (11.5 x 7.93 x 0.36 inch) and 800 grams (1.76 lbs), the Surface 3 measures 267 x 187 x 8.7mm (10.52 x 7.36 x 0.34 inch), and weighs 622 grams or 1.37 pounds. So the Surface 3 is smaller and lighter, in fact, it's ultra-thin and super-light!!! At 622 grams it's the lightest Surface ever!

Processor

Whereas the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has Intel Core i3 (Max 1.5GHz), i5 (Max 2.9GHz) and i7 (Max 3.3GHz) CPU options, the Surface 3 is limited to Intel's Quad-core Atom x7-Z8700 processor (2MB Cache, 1.6GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.4GHz). Having 4th generation Intel Core processor, the Surface Pro 3 will faster and have much better performance especially for power-hungry professional applications.

Memory & Storage

The new Microsoft Surface 3 has two RAM and storage options, namely 2GB RAM with 64GB storage ($499) or 4GB RAM with 128GB storage ($599). So there's no 8GB RAM option with the Surface 3!!! The SP3 has greater optional RAM and storage namely, 4GB RAM with 64GB or 128GB storage or 8GB RAM with 256GB or 512GB storage.

Graphics

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 CPU models have Intel's 4200, 4400 and 5000 Graphics Chips respectively.

Networking

Both the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and the Surface 3 have inbuilt Wireless WiFi with Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology. However, one advantage that the Surface 3 has over its big brother the Surface Pro 3 is that eventually, the Surface 3 range will also include an optional 4G LTE mobile broadband version ($100) thus allowing Internet connectivity even when you're not at a Wi-Fi hotspot. However, rather than be tied to say the Verizon and T-Mobile networks it would be great if the 4G LTE was carrier unlocked.


Microsoft | Surface 3 | Windows | Tablet | Laptop | Ultraportable
The Microsoft Surface 3


External Ports

Both the Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 have a Full-size USB 3.0 port which is great for connecting thumb and external hard drives for greater external storage space, a microSD slot compatible with microSD cards up to 128GB for adding additional storage, a Micro USB charging port, and a Mini DisplayPort for video output when connecting to say a larger external desktop monitor.

Cameras & Audio

The Surface Pro 3 has 5.0 megapixel rear and front-facing autofocus cameras capable of 1080p video whereas the Surface 3 has 8 megapixel rear and 3.5 megapixel front-facing autofocus cameras capable of 1080p video.

For audio, both the Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 feature stereo microphone and speakers with Dolby® sound.

Sensors

The Surface 3 has an Ambient light, Proximity, Accelerometer, Gyroscope and Magnetometer sensors. Additional to these, the Surface Pro 3 has a Digital Compass.

Battery Life

According to Microsoft, its flagship Surface Pro 3 has a battery life of up to 9 hours and the Surface 3 up to 10 hours when web browsing. Thus, these two ultraportables have similar battery life.

Price

The price of the Surface Pro 3 depends on the processor, RAM (4GB or 8GB) and internal storage (64GB to 512GB) configuration. Here are the configuration and pricing options:

Surface Pro 3 Intel Core i3 1.5GHz Processor

This SP3 model having 4GB RAM + 64GB storage is price at $799. The Core i3 model is suitable for common desktop applications, basic photo editing, mail, and word processing.

Surface Pro 3 Intel Core i5 1.9GHz Processor

The Core i5 Surface Pro 3 model with 4GB RAM + 128GB storage is priced at $999 and with 8GB RAM + 256GB storage at $1,299. The Core i5 models include everything the Core i3 can do, plus working with larger databases and documents and more advanced photo editing.

Surface Pro 3 Intel Core i7 1.7GHz Processor

The SP3 top-end Core i7 model with 8GB RAM + 256GB storage is priced at $1,549 and with 8GB RAM + 512GB storage at $1,949. The Core i7 models include everything the Core i5 can do, plus: professional HD video editing, and 3D modeling with programs like AutoCAD5 etc.

Surface 3 Pricing

The Surface 3 is available with two RAM and storage options, namely 2GB and 4GB RAM, and 64GB and 128GB storage. The price of the Surface 3 with 2GB RAM + 64GB storage + WiFi is $499 and that of the Surface 3 with 4GB RAM + 128GB storage + WiFi is $599. Prices for the Surface 3 with 2GB RAM + 64GB storage + WiFi + 4G LTE and the Surface 3 with 4GB RAM + 128GB storage + WiFi + 4G LTE have not as yet been released.

Operating System

While unlike the predecessor Surface Pro 2 which ran the somewhat restricted Windows RT, the Surface 3 like the Surface Pro 3 ultra-portables runs Windows 8.1 with FREE upgrade to Windows 10 when it becomes available.

Accessories

There is range of accessories to choose from. There's a Surface Pro and Surface 3 Type Cover (featuring a QWERTY keyboard) both at at $129.99. Currently all of the Surface Pro 3 models include a free protective sleeve from a choice of styles and colors (was $19.99-$39.99) , Also available is a Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 Docking Station ($199.99) to transform your ultra-portable into a complete desktop workstation and to allow the easy connection to other accessories. Both the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 have an optional Surface Pen at $49.99. There's also an optional Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter ($59.85) to enable both the Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 to display what’s on your phone, tablet, or laptop to your big-screen HDTV or monitor using the devices Mini DisplayPort.

Microsoft | Surface 3 | Windows | Tablet | Laptop | Ultra-portable | Docking Station
Microsoft Surface 3 Ultra-portable and Docking Station

So, Microsoft Surface Pro 3 or the New Surface 3?

From the foregoing comparison, one could easily be excused for thinking of the Surface 3 as the Surface Pro 3 Mini or Surface Pro 3 Lite. It certainly fills a gap in the Microsoft Surface product line and unlike the predecessor Surface RT and Surface 2 models which were restricted to only running apps downloadable from the Windows Store, the Surface 3 runs the same full version of the Windows 8.1 Operating System as the Surface Pro 3 models.

If you're budget critical or want the lightest device possible and have less intense processing requirements that require less computing horsepower (eg consumer, home and student use including for example web browsing, working with Office documents, social networking and perhaps the odd game), then the smaller (10.8-inch) Microsoft Surface 3 powered by the new Intel Atom X7-Z8700 quad-core processor would be a good option. Starting at $499 the Surface 3 offers consumers, students and home users alike, a cheaper option to the Surface Pro 3 and a better opportunity to get a great low-profiled and great value ultrabook. Also, given that the S3 runs a full version of Windows 8.1 with a FREE upgrade to Windows 10 when it is released, it will compete extremely well with iPads and the cheaper laptops on the market.

If however you're a power user needing to run professional-grade programs with high-end performance requirements and likely need to run several programs simultaneously, then you might think about getting a fully-optioned Surface 3. However, if you think about it, by the time you add the additional options you'd need, the price of the Surface 3 wouldn't be that much less than an entry-level Surface Pro 3 which has the added advantages of having a faster and more powerful processor and far better expandability options in terms of greater internal memory and storage. Regardless, I think for power users needing to run high-end power hungry applications, the Surface Pro 3 with the full-blown Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor would be a far better choice. As well as having a faster and more powerful processor than the Surface 3, the big brother Surface Pro 3 has double the internal RAM memory and up to 4 times the internal storage capacity.

In my view, while the Surface 3 is certainly a nice and slick ultraportable device, because it doesn't have an 8GB RAM option, and from my experience with the Windows OS and applications, 8GB is the minimum RAM I'd go for, hence the Surface Pro 3 is my preferred option. Also, the SP3 can be optioned with up to 512GB of solid-state storage which is twice that of the Surface 3.

Microsoft | Surface Pro 3 | Window | Tablet | Laptop | Ultrabook | Ultra-portable
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Ultra-portable

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2 comments:

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