10 Reasons the Surface Pro 3 Won't Work as a Notebook Replacement

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-05-21 Print this article Print

Microsoft on May 20 unveiled the Surface Pro 3. The device, which the company has pegged as a replacement for tablets and laptops to create a singular experience for users, will start at $799. It also comes with a thinner design and a weight of 1.76 pounds that makes it lighter than Apple's MacBook Air—the device Microsoft seems to believe is its biggest competitor in the notebook market. Although Microsoft wanted to pit its new Surface Pro 3 against the MacBook Air, the device is truly designed to compete with any notebook or tablet on the market. On one hand, it's supposed to be a slate to take on devices like the iPad for those who want to use such a product. On the other hand, Microsoft contends it comes with notebook-like features to create a full mobile experience not available elsewhere. The truth, however, is that the Surface Pro 3 is not a replacement for the average user's notebook. Actually, the Surface Pro 3 appears at this early point in its life cycle to be more hype than substance. Take a look at this slide show to find out why current notebook owners are unlikely to switch to the Surface Pro 3.

  • 10 Reasons the Surface Pro 3 Won't Work as a Notebook Replacement

    By Don Reisinger
    10 Reasons the Surface Pro 3 Won't Work as a Notebook Replacement
  • It's Still a Tablet First

    Regardless of what Microsoft says, the Surface Pro 3 is still a tablet first. The device comes as a tablet out of the box, and it's not until you start adding components that it starts to morph into a notebook-like form. The Surface Pro 3 is not as sturdy or appealing in its design as a notebook, despite what Microsoft says.
    It's Still a Tablet First
  • We Have Tablet-Notebook Replacements

    Microsoft tried to make the sales pitch that its Surface Pro 3 is the first device to bridge the gap between the notebook and tablet. In reality, there are several devices on store shelves now that do just that, including the Lenovo Yoga and the Asus Transformer line. Those products are arguably more appealing than Microsoft's product for those who want hybrid devices because they come with real keyboard hardware to get the job done and not a product that doubles as a cover. Sorry, but the Surface Pro 3 is no tablet-notebook replacement.
    We Have Tablet-Notebook Replacements
  • Windows 8.1

    When will Microsoft finally say publicly that Windows 8, and now Windows 8.1, is holding it back? The operating system is bundled with the Surface Pro 3, which means customers will find the same inherent issues they have with other Windows-based products, including a steep learning curve and issues getting work done. Windows 8.1 is a mess, and it'll only hold back the Surface Pro 3.
    Windows 8.1
  • Not Everyone Believes in Microsoft's Vision

    Not everyone believes that there's a real need for a product that can combine the benefits of notebooks and tablets. According to Microsoft's own data, 96 percent of those who own an iPad also use a notebook to get work done. Microsoft says it's trying to solve that problem, but isn't it possible that those customers don't want a single solution? Is it possible that they want two separate products? The sales and market data seems to bear that out. Why won't Microsoft accept that?
    Not Everyone Believes in Microsoft's Vision
  • It's Really, Really Expensive

    It's hard not to feel a little shell-shocked when examining the prices on the Surface Pro 3. The device might start at $799, but that's for the Intel Core i3 option. If you want the version that Microsoft showed off on stage, complete with the Intel Core i7, you'll be dropping $1,949. At that price, there's no way Microsoft can compete with tablets or notebooks.
    It's Really, Really Expensive
  • Watch Out for the Accessory Land Grab

    As if the pricing wasn't bad enough, Microsoft has also found a way to squeeze every last drop of cash out of its customers with the Surface Pro 3. According to the company, it'll charge customers $130 for its Type Cover and $50 for every additional Surface Pen they want. Oh, and if you're looking for that nifty docking station to really turn the tablet into a notebook, it'll set you back $200. In other words, for well over $2,000, you'll get the full, um, notebook experience. Great.
    Watch Out for the Accessory Land Grab
  • It's No Full Enterprise Solution

    It's hard to see how the enterprise could benefit from the Surface Pro 3. IT purchasing budgets are still extremely tight, and companies have been content to extend the lives on notebooks running Windows 7 and buy tablets for $500 to $900. With the Surface Pro 3, companies would be looking at buying a single device for nearly $2,000, plus accessories, just to get the functionality they want. Oh, and that product will be running Windows 8. How does that make any sense for the enterprise?
    It's No Full Enterprise Solution
  • What's the Consumer Sales Pitch?

    Surprisingly, Microsoft might have an even more difficult time making its sales pitch to consumers. Those customers have been conditioned to buy a tablet and notebook, so Microsoft must educate them on the benefits of its single solution. From there, Microsoft needs to prove to them that paying upward of $2,000 is worth it to have the convenience the company is peddling. Considering high-quality notebooks can be purchased for $500 and tablets for around the same price, it might be a hard sell.
    What's the Consumer Sales Pitch?
  • The Screen Size Won't Work

    One of the biggest problems with Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 is the device's 12-inch screen size. Microsoft says that the screen will pump out beautiful visuals, and that certainly might be the case. But at 12 inches, it's still too small for entertainment-seekers who buy big laptops for gaming and movies. Plus, at such a high price tag, it seems unlikely that customers would find so much value in such a small display. Microsoft also tries to pit its Surface Pro 3 against a 13-inch MacBook Air. Again, Microsoft is painting itself into a corner in the mobile space, and it doesn't even notice it's doing it.
    The Screen Size Won't Work
  • It Doesn't Know What It Wants to Be

    Watching Microsoft's presentation of the Surface Pro 3, it's hard to determine fully what the company wants its device to be. Microsoft kept saying that the Surface Pro 3 is a replacement for a notebook and tablet, but then it would compare the device to a tablet and then to a notebook. The company's own early marketing calls the device a tablet, but promises to replace a notebook. It's confusing. Microsoft needs to fix its sales pitch before consumers look elsewhere for their mobile products.
    It Doesn't Know What It Wants to Be
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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