Friday, May 15, 2015

Surface 3

I have no brand loyalty when it comes to devices. My home makes me look like an Apple/Android fanboy. I recently bought a Surface 3 and it is a probably one of the most enjoyable (not to mention expensive) devices to draw, take notes, and read with. It's frustrating to do any form of coding on the device because of the screen size. Though, I have found launching iPython in a browser suitable since I can change the browser screen font. I still haven't made use of the device as a development platform yet since I can't stand anything but a bash shell.

So, here's a brief summary of what I think about Surface 3:

  • Great for drawing/sketching/art and taking notes. The stylus is extremely responsive and OneNote integration is just awesome. It has a very low latency in terms of when the stylus is placed at point (x,y) and when graphics are drawn for that location.
  • OneNote -- probably my favorite app of all things on the tablet. I probably spend more time with this app than any other app. It is great for taking notes, typing, drawing diagrams, drawing cartoons, etc. Palm rejection is awesome on this.
  • Runs any Windows desktop application. I can install and run iPython on the tablet and do some scripting/analysis.
  • Keyboard automatically disables when flipped back. Unlike the Nexus 9 keyboards, you won't accidentally press keys when you fold back the keyboard cover.
  • Battery life is awesome. I've gotten through the day with the device. Though, can't say the same if I play videos/games.
  • Screen size sucks. It's very hard to read text for Windows applications that don't conform to display font settings (e.g. Line).
  • Processing power is underwhelming. It's not great for doing heavy computation and sometimes a bit sluggish.
  • Limited Apps. Even for drawing, there's limited number of apps available for drawing. Sketchbook is terrible through the Windows App store. Though, Sketchbook Pro from the native desktop application will run. It just has no palm rejection.
  • Lack of palm rejection for desktop windows applications.

So, in terms of use cases, I found it to be my favorite device for reading research papers (PDF annotation is awesome), taking notes, doing quick scribbles, and drawing cartoons.  It's good for browsing the web and watching movies too, though Microsoft's poor history of developing a secure platform has made me somewhat wary of making this a network device -- despite an improved kernel security model since Windows 7. I'll wait for Windows 10 before I make additional judgements about the security of the device.

I recently gave up my Intuous Pro tablet in favor of this device. It's an awesome device for drawing (I use Sketchbook Pro desktop application). I haven't found any other good use cases for the device except for drawing, reading, note-taking, and the occasional iPython scripting.

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