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November 09
Noveling on the Surface 3

This is a quick entry, as I'm currently working on my NaNoWriMo novel. It's convenient because I've been having a lot of Surface RT and 3 thoughts of late. There's a larger thought process going on about the Surface Book, other super-tablets such as the Vaio Canvas Z, and normal laptops such as the ThinkPad T450. I might write more about all of that later.

I've had my Surface 3 a fair while now, and I have mixed feelings about it as a device. I like how much faster it is than the Surface RT, and I like that it uses a Micro USB charger, which provides some flexibility in charging the device and using it with different power sources, such as a power bank, that didn't really exist with the Surfaces RT and 2, or the Pros, or even most other normal computers.

It's a solid performer of a device and it ultimately meets all my computing needs.

Perhaps the biggest problem with it is I've become to wonder if the Microsoft Surface form factor is actually the best for my portable computing needs. I don't know if it's a problem with the Surface form factor, or if it's that the Surface 3 feels too powerful and flexible. One of the biggest problems with it so far is that it lets me do too many things at once.

I think the other thing to consider is that the Surface 3 entered a market totally saturated by cheap x86 computing devices that were small and got amazing battery life, whereas the Surface RT was the only reasonable choice for that type of device when it was new.

Because of its flexibility, Surface 3 has a few oddities, such as problems scaling Office windows or Internet content, both when you use the display at 100% scaling and when you use it at higher scaling factors.

I wonder from time to time if Windows 10 will make it better, but if anything, Windows 10's comically large interface elements across the entire operating system will force my hand on the issue of running at 100% scaling, which is almost too small for casual tablet use, or use in an environment where the screen will be very far from your face. I'll eventually have to try it out, as I fear Microsoft is going to force the issue sooner, rather than later.

At some point, I also need to either find a perpetual copy of Office 2013 or 2016 for the Surface 3, or re-subscribe to Office 365. I like the value proposition of 365 a lot, but I also still use my RT devices and their perpetual Office 2013 licenses.

The other issue I've been having is that the keyboard isn't as great as I'd hoped it would be. The original Surface RT Type Cover is actually a pretty great keyboard, the Surface 2 Type Cover (I have both) isn't that much worse, but the 3's Type Cover produces an odd hollow sound if you type with it in the recommended "incline" position. To get around that, I just don't use it in that position.

I won't say that the Surface 3 is bad hardware, but I just haven't gotten attached to it like I did with the Surface RT, nor do I feel it's quite as useful as the bigger Yoga RT, with its two USB ports, full-sized SDHC slot, and much longer battery life.

But, for the most part, my novel is being written on the Surface 3 because it's the device I bother to get ready to leave the house with. It's a good device, but I'm very carefully going to evaluate whether the next portable computer I buy is a Surface of some variety, or is a more traditional laptop.


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