I was searching for something to read on the web about an hour ago and I stumbled upon The Verge’s live update link to Microsoft’s “small” surface event. I’m particularly not a big fan of Surface, but given that it can run a full version of Windows — which is the primary operating system I use — I followed the link and read the whole event’s live updates.
I agreed with Microsoft when they put up this line on the slide: “96% of people who own an iPad also own a laptop.” I don’t know what the source of this is but this seems extremely true. Tablets are here to stay and they are very useful (and popular, too). But they can’t replace laptops, not by a long shot. I was wondering why Microsoft would say that at an event where they are about to announce something that’s, well, a tablet of some sort.
And then I had to go “Oh right!” Because that’s when Microsoft claimed that the Surface Pro 3, the latest Surface tablet, will replace laptops.
Twitter as of now is full of conversations and links to various videos and articles about the discussion whether Surface Pro 3 can really resurface as a true replacement of a laptop. I have to admit, when I was seeing how powerful it was (to run Photoshop, even with little lag, is definitely a powerful thing), I was sold for a moment that I might want something like this. I’m a technology journalist, so most of the time I’ll do my writing. I’m also a photography enthusiastic, and Photoshop runs well on this thing. So why not?
Then it hit me, how good is the Surface’s keyboard? And why do I use my laptop more than I use my tablet?
Flexibility vs Lapability
In case you didn’t know, Lapability is a Microsoft-invented word to describe how well it can stand on your lap weighing back on its kickstand, which just got a lot better with Surface Pro 3. The kickstand is actually pretty amazing; but from a tablet perspective. When I think of laptop, a kickstand just doesn’t feel right to me.
Speaking of that, how does laptops work? Right, laptops’ monitors/lids don’t need a kickstand to put its pressure on. The pressure is on your lap, or wherever you put it on, making the screen free to go back as long as the hinge supports. You don’t fear that the laptop will fall because you control it as long as your hands are on the laptop. And most of the time your hands will be on the keyboard of the laptop.
On the contrary, Surface Pro 3, while it goes down as much as 150 degree, still relies on the kickstand. While I’m not sure whether just the Type Cover can hold the full Surface device if it were to fall from your lap, I don’t think that it’s going to feel that great. The Type Cover is definitely a great thing. If I bought Surface Pro 3, I’d definitely need the Type Cover for occasional typing work. But I wouldn’t rely solely on the Type Cover to do all my tasks — which is what replacing my laptop with a Surface Pro 3 would result in.
Pen is a great addition
I feel bad that I can’t say it’s a surprising addition, because pens have made their way into tablets for a long time now. And it’s been made mainstream by Samsung’s S-Pen. Still, the ability to use that pen on a tablet that runs a full version of Windows is definitely a great thing to have. Apart from note-taking and occasional writing, I can see why artists and designers should cry to get themselves a unit of Surface Pro 3, because, remember, it runs Photoshop with the touch support.
However, I’m not a designer or artist. I use Photoshop for retouching my photographs, and I could definitely benefit from the ability to use that pen, but since I’m not a professional and I’m not that luxurious yet, the pen doesn’t appeal me enough to ditch my laptop and go for a Surface Pro 3.
As a tablet, Surface Pro 3 rocks
With all that negativity above, you might be thinking that I’m a Microsoft hater and I would not think twice before bashing any product Microsoft launches. While I am a Google fan and I run a blog about all things Google, I’m not a fanboy. That makes me not a hater of any other company.
The negativity is because I just don’t think Surface Pro 3 can replace a laptop. It isn’t because it doesn’t have the power to do so. Of course it’s a powerhouse. It has more power than most laptops out there (including the one I’m typing this post on). But the case is comfort. I can’t use Surface Pro 3 with the same comfort I use my laptop. Granted that at times I would be able to have greater comfort with Surface Pro 3 than any laptop in the world, but then again, that’s just for a short time.
Long story short, Surface Pro 3 is an amazing device. If you have the money, by all means you should buy it. I would buy it, too, if I could afford it right now. But even if I had plenty of money and I’d bought myself a Surface Pro 3, I wouldn’t ditch my laptop yet. Yes, I would probably start taking my Surface Pro 3 almost everywhere I go — vacations, travel, press events, restaurants — but at the end of the day, I would rely on my laptop to do most other working. Again, it isn’t because Surface Pro 3 isn’t powerful enough to carry out tasks like a laptop. It’s just meant to be a tablet; and a tablet isn’t meant to replace a laptop.
So, after all, Microsoft’s implication that tablet hasn’t yet replaced laptops will continue to live on. Surface Pro 3 is a great device. You might even get away with it if you don’t have a laptop and this is your first device. But for the most people, including most of who will own a Surface Pro 3, a laptop will live side-by-side.
What’s your thoughts? Do you think Surface Pro 3 has the potential to completely replace laptops? Do you think just the processing power it has to overpower most laptops make the Surface Pro 3 a laptop-beater? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Read the news about Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 announcement here.