Comparing tablets: Microsoft Surface 3 vs. Surface Pro 3

Joe Reithmeier June 19, 2015

When it comes to tablets, there’s a lot of choice out there. Each technology brand seems to have its own line, and even bookstores are releasing their own versions. Microsoft divides their series of tablet computers into two lines: the Surface and Surface Pro. As you might infer from their names, the Surface Pro is designed with the higher-performance, professional user in mind. However, as we’ll see, the Surface certainly has its uses in the professional setting too. The latest iterations in both lines, the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3, add features that make Microsoft’s offerings to business productivity more relevant than ever before. Let’s analyze some points of comparison between the two models and the ways they could help with your day-to-day productivity.

Differences in design and features

As you might expect, the two lines are generally similar in design and features. The Surface 3 Pro, however, provides more power, memory, and size. While the Surface 3 boasts a 10.8 inch screen, the Pro 3 is bigger at 12 inches. Similarly, users note that the stand on the Pro version is more adjustable, with the non-Pro model only having three possible lock positions. Overall, the tablets are extremely portable as, of course, is their intention: easy to pull out of your work bag and attach to a projector using an HDMI cable in any conference room you find yourself in.

To get the most out of the Surface 3 Pro, users have the option of purchasing upgrades in several tiers to increase the processor speed, RAM, and internal storage. At the lowest price tier, there is little to differentiate the Surface 3 Pro from the Surface 3, but at the highest price tiers, the Pro model truly emerges as a potential desktop replacement.

A significant consideration with any device, particularly one as mobile as a tablet, is the battery life and recharging speed. Here, Microsoft’s offering falls short of its competitors. Though the battery life of around seven hours is reasonable, the tablets take far longer than a typical laptop to recharge. This could potentially make for a particularly unproductive day should users forget to plug in the tablet overnight before work. While this issue could be helped by equipping the tablets with USB Type-C ports that allow for faster charging, both models are fitted with USB 3.0.

How they can help you be more productive

With the Surface 3 Pro, Microsoft is aiming to create what is essentially a desktop replacement computer. Though clearly far smaller and more portable than a desktop, the ability to attach a keyboard to the tablet means that there is very little a user can do on a desktop that they shouldn’t be able to accomplish on the tablet. The Surface 3, though, has slightly less lofty goals in terms of usage.

Being a Microsoft product, the Surface tablets already interface well with the Windows-based workstations that are already found in the vast majority of businesses around the world. Unlike with products from other manufacturers, there is minimal disconnect in adding a Surface tablet to your workflow. And this is where the Surface 3 works best: as an augmentation to your current workstation. The Surface 3 lacks the performance and speed qualities to truly replace a desktop computer. Instead, it’s an additional screen that gives users some of the function their more powerful desktop computers give them, and especially useful for those multi-taskers among us.

The Surface Pro 3, as mentioned above, is aimed at being a replacement for your desktop. Though, of course, it’s great as a more augmentative piece of hardware as well, it’s more than capable of handling tasks you would normally use a desktop computer for. This opens up an enormous range of options for employees on-the-go. Imagine having your team be able to get everything accomplished regardless of where they are with a tablet that has access to everything they need. Even visiting with clients for a presentation suddenly becomes a far less logistical issue.

Both Microsoft Surface tablets come equipped with Microsoft 8.1, and it’s worth noting that Microsoft’s next release, Windows 10, is geared toward even greater synchronicity between tablet devices and desktops. With this in mind, Microsoft Surface tablets offer valuable options for increasing productivity. Ultimately, the business owner needs to pinpoint the tasks and situations their employees find themselves in to make a decision between the two–whether it’s through the augmentative assets of the Surface 3 or the powerful desktop-replacement qualities of the Surface Pro 3.

Do you have any thoughts on the Microsoft tablets or how they help with productivity? Let us know in the comments below.

If you would like to learn more about the Surface 3 and Surface 3 Pro or have any other questions about IT as part of a comprehensive IT support strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us today to speak with an IT expert.


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