Surface Pro 3 review

The most recent addition to my drawing accessories is none other than a Microsoft Surface Pro 3.

And, it's one beautiful piece of kit.

The stats I went for are as follows:

256GB, intel i7 core processor and 8GB ram. Currently running windows 8.1.

Microsoft were running a bundle at the time of my purchase, so for the price of £1,129 I also had a HP stream 7 signature tablet thrown in with a discount of £310. As I wasn't overly bothered about the HP stream, I gifted it to a friend so unfortunately I can't give you a rundown on that.

So, first I'm going to point out the negative, as there really is so few I'm going to get them out of the way.


The stylus - it's a little bit too thin for my liking - but it's possible I'm just used to the chunkier pens of drawing tablets. I heard somewhere that you can get different pens however, so it's not so much of a problem.

The operating system/market - There is hardly anything on the Windows app store. If you're looking for it as a way to entertain the brothers kids when they're bored, I'd look more towards an android or Apple tablet. However, there is more options than about five years ago when I had my first Windows phone - but it's still not on par with other tablet markets. Plus, if you are running a game, expect the battery to last two hours max, not even using it on the minimum brightness will help.

Keyboard - Okay, so from a drawing point of view, don't go with the Microsoft keyboard. It requires to be plugged in at the bottom, and when you're using the tablet it doesn't fold back out of the way, it just pops out. I wish I'd spent the money on a bluetooth one instead, but at least it looks pretty for all the typing I don't do.... The on screen keyboard works fine, but it doesn't have a swipe input, and with nothing on the market it makes for slow progress.

noisy fan - So the thing has a fan on the top left, which get's extremely grumpy if my case is covering it, or not covering it as the 'case' may be. My friends and relatives take every opportunity to remind me that it sounds like someone is mowing the lawn outside. More than ten minutes watching a video? Yep, it's going to start.

and overheating - I decided to take it on holiday to Palma earlier this year where the temperatures reached about 30 degrees. Apart from it being almost impossible to work in the bright light as I couldn't see the screen, it regularly just cuts out and replaces with a temperature icon. I can understand this, but with no prior warning its a bit of a hazard when I'm in the middle of drawing.

battery life -  So the battery when I'm just using photoshop (it runs the full adobe master suite package, and will most likely run CC to) I can get around 5 hours out of it with the max brightness, which really isn't that bad considering a Macbook pro laptop battery, and from experience I know you can only stretch that out to four. However, compared to the Wacom Cintiq portable you get a lot less hours, and the Pro will last you longer.

no shortcut buttons - As it's not a specialist drawing tablet I'm not really surprised. Having a bluetooth keyboard would really help with this.


So onto all the things I do really love about the Surface Pro;

Size - it's 13"- that's the size of my Macbook Pro. Compared to the Cintiq 13" it also doesn't have a huge rim around it for the buttons. I can slot it in all of my bags, and it's not too heavy that my hand gets heavy when I'm carrying it

Sensitivity - It claims to only have 540 levels of pressure sensitivity, which is far less than the Cintiq Companion. However, after using a Bamboo, Huion and Yiynova 22HD I really can't tell the difference at all. I experience absolutely no lag on my more custom brushes on Photoshop, and the pen is just as responsive as any of its Tablet counterparts.

Writing on screen - As well as boasting an on-screen keyboard, it also has a writing to text input, which is almost spot on. My writing is truly terrible, but it works great, and is compatible with anything which requires a text input.

Price over wacom - Compared to the Reviews I've seen for the Wacom for £1,599 (intel core i7, 256GB) the Surface pro seems like a much better value for money. Apart from running the whole Adobe master suite with no problems, I can also use it as a laptop. It's so light that it's no problem to carry around on my longer journeys, and especially onto a plane.

The add ons - as the Surface Pro is a Microsoft tablet, it is advertised to a much wider audience. This means that there are much cheaper replacement items, including keyboards, cases and styluses. As the Wacom is a specialist market, it's much harder to replace things. It's also much easier to insure too!

So there you have it - I'm totally in love with my Surface Pro 3, and I'm happy to be using it for the next few years to come. A lot of the problems I've found are things which are currently dragging down most of the similar products. The case seems to be which set of problems you prefer. However, with the release soon of the Surface Pro 4, a lot of changes seem to have been made, including different nibs for your stylus.

Anything else you want to know about the Surface Pro 3? Drop me a comment below!

Yiynova 22HD review