Why I'm returning my SP3 and going back to the two device method...

Discussion in 'Microsoft' started by Steve B, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    First, this isn't meant to be a "bashing" thread. I just wanted to share my thoughts and insights on using the SP3 over the last month and a half, and why I'm returning it.

    So, yes, after much deliberation and hemming and hawing, I'll be returning my SP3 and keeping my new x230t/Thinkpad Tablet 2 combo. There's a great deal that I liked about the SP3 (and my wife may end up with one), but there are too many limitations for me to swallow at that price point. Some are hardware needs particular to my usage case, which will apply to very few others, but I also ended up having issues with Win8.1 on a SP3 as my primary computer.

    My usage needs--

    As some of you may know, I have particular computer needs- I work outdoors, in the field, and I need to be able to both a) take notes mobilely, and b) I need to be able to use a laptop and mouse in many outdoor areas that normal, sane humans wouldn't try and do. The x230t (that comparatively thick, heavy, battery-bump-toting, unelegant bruiser of a convertible laptop that I love so much) allows me a mouse, Wacom pen with silo, and outdoor screen in a single package, and I guess that's what I need. That's a shame, because I liked the SP3 in many ways. But using it mobilely, with a trackball mouse, well..... was clearly less than productive. I also need something atleast semi-rugged (given my recent Helix-smashing exploits), and so I've had to put a UAG rugged case on the SP3. It works, but took away two primary usages I loved- 1) the hinge works on it, but not as well, and 2) it's much heavier as a tablet. In the end, that made it less-than-stellar as a tablet. Throw in my issues with Ntrig still, that there's no silo or attachment method for the pen, and the fact that there's no 3g option (which I'll have on both my x230t and TT2) and.... eh. So, of course, my decision is partly based on hardware needs that most folks don't run in to.

    Beyond all that though, I decided that perhaps the SP3 is just a bit too much tablet for me and not enough laptop. I'm sure others have run into this problem as well, as documented by the many discussions about having a bigger laptop and a smaller tablet as a combo. Which is true for me too. However, my gripes ended up going past that.

    Software/SP3 combo--
    In the end, I find the keyboard/mouse pad/hinge combo on the SP3 less than satisfactory for my mobile usage. Partly that's because all my usage is mobile, but still, that's what it is. Perhaps if I used the device at a desk and had a mouse and keyboard with the SP3 dock, I'd appreciate it better, but I don't. Used mobilely, even moving around the house, from tabletop to couch to cafe, I find the keyboard acceptable but not good enough for regular typing. I already feel infinitely more at home typing on my x230t again, after just a day. I also don't like the experience of an unresponsive keyboard. And even though its simple to detach and reattach the keyboard to get it to reconnect, or to put it to sleep, I've missed just opening the device and having it all __work__, the way it does on the x230t. I guess limitations sometimes have their benefits.

    Now, the trackpad sucks on my x230t, but I have the trackpoint for accurate laptop input. The SP3's trackpad, while adequate (like the keyboard) is not good enough for endless, every day use, IMO. Of course, I can touch the screen instead, but this is where I get into the limitations of Win 8.

    To me, I still think Win 8.1 is best on a tablet. And teamed with a SP3 as a tablet, I loved it-- but that is not my primary usage, of course, professionally. For that, I need laptop use. In the end, Win 8.1 is not, IMO, really much better for touch-focused laptop use than Win 7. Perhaps no better, really. And, as before, I think the limitations of the SP3 keyboard and trackpad make touch input an important/ necessary input method. Perhaps touch-usage on the desktop/ browsers will get improved by Win 10. That would be nice. Or, perhaps a later iteration of the Surface line will have a bigger, better trackpad and keyboard (clamshell??) that would allow for excellent, all day laptop usage on the MS Desktop. I'm not sure. But currently, I think I'll end up being more productive on a more "proper"/limited laptop on Win 7, with a Win 8.1 tablet for mobile note taking, than I've been on the SP3 for the last 6 weeks.

    As before, in the end, my opinion has ended up sort of being that the SP3 is a bit much for a mobile tablet, and yet, simultaneously, there's not quite enough "laptop" in there for my laptop use. I actually think the device might perform better as a lightweight desktop replacement (with accessories) better than it does a truly mobile laptop replacement.

    Anyways, in some ways, I just adored the device, but I just can't get past the limitations. All the ways I loved it best had to do with putzing around, and the price was just too much. I LOVED the hinge though, and wish all tablets had such an option. However, my wife (who owns a Macbook Air) loves the device and was quite jealous of its purchase, in the end. She says once the get Win 10 in order, and better combine the desktop/metro interfaces, etc. that she hopes to get one. I can see how her usage case would be a very good fit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
  2. koz2050

    koz2050 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    This really sums it up best. As a light desktop replacement that can also go mobile, it's not a bad solution, but the price issue remains.

    For me, I found that I wanted inking ability "while" I was using a laptop. I always found it a bit frustrating to be using my SP3 in laptop mode at a meeting, then having to grab it and flip it to take a note, then set it back up into tablet mode, etc. etc.

    I find the 2 device setup to be ideal at this point. I ended up with the T10 vs the TT2 just for the extra performance boost (given that it was only $284 @ CDW Outlet).

    If I could pick up an SP3 cheap enough just to use it as a notepad / T10 replacement I would probably jump on it. It is an awesome device.
     
  3. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops My friends call me Jeff Senior Member

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    That was an excellent analysis and write up. Helpful for many of us.

    As someone who owns 3 clamshell laptops, 1 convertible and two slate tablets, and truly has different use cases that suit one more than the other, I can heartily agree that no one device could possibly "do it all" no matter what kind of work and/or play you do. But for Steve B., who has a very specific outdoor tablet/laptop/bright matte screen, durable case need, I can't see just about anything replacing your 230T - other than perhaps a T902 - and from there you would have to have at least one compact companion device - likely needing W8 and Wacom inking - unless you have no life outside of work, so it sounds like you wound up just as you needed to be.

    Perhaps we can take up a collection and get you an AVN8 or TP10 just to modernize your companion device a bit. I'm in for $10 - you should be able to raise the additional $200-$300 with no trouble. :D
     
  4. fatpolomanjr

    fatpolomanjr Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I have given up for now on the "one device meets all" paradigm since wanting to move on from my X220 Tablet as my primary, mobile, all-day companion. It is a wonderful notetaker, but I often need to be viewing other pdf and djvu papers and textbooks for hard math, and class textbooks for teaching while preparing lecture notes. With my use case, it is hard to do with only one screen, constantly switching between windows.

    Therefore I've gone to a nicer 4:3 14" laptop for coding and reading papers on the go (with paper and pencil for working out theorems and proofs), with a Thinkpad 10 Tablet for easier tasks like taking notes in seminars and preparing lecture notes to teach with (it is SO nice having all of my lecture notes in one place; I can never give that up). It is just really tricky trying to get a device with a great keyboard that is also portable enough, and in your case rugged enough, to serve as an all-in-one-do-everything device.

    The Surface Pro 3 is great --my fiancee loves hers, but after having my X220 Tablet serve as tablet, laptop and desktop (docked in its ultrabase with a 22" monitor), I just don't want to make many compromises by using a single device any more. Whether it be a compromised tablet experience (X220T), compromised laptop experience (SP3), or what have you.
     
  5. Mesosphere

    Mesosphere Geek. Senior Member

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  6. Fluffyfurball

    Fluffyfurball Scribbler - Standard Member

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    That was a great and very helpful personal view of the Surface vs multiple devices. Makes me think for a bit.

    One irritation for me is that "turn off display" is the same as "put device to sleep" on the Surface. Has anyone noticed this? This means that I can't turn off the display and keep the Surface running while plugged in! I'm going to try a hack piece of software someone recommended on Reddit to be able to turn the display off only.
     
  7. jnjroach

    jnjroach Technology Strategist Super Moderator

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    This is true with any Connected Standby enabled machine be it a RT or ATOM or Core-I Y Variant.....
     
  8. Fluffyfurball

    Fluffyfurball Scribbler - Standard Member

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    :) Lordy, I didn't know that. Well, the NirCmd hack didn't work. Can we chalk this one up as another reason to go with 2 devices?
     
  9. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    Thanks for all the comments everyone.

    For me, beyond the peculiarities of my specialized usage case, there were really two primary issues, one of which everyone comments on-- some folks want the limited focus of a device that does what it does better than other devices (a laptop, a tablet, etc).... this is the big screen-small screen dilemna. But there was also the software side of things (Win 8.1 on a laptop like the SP3, etc.) and how it relates to the hardware limitations of the SP3, based on what it's trying to achieve (this is focused mostly on my opinion about using touch on 8.1's desktop interface and browsers).

    In the end, I think the software side of things might get ironed out in Win 10, so for some the SP4 may be a better fit than the SP3 currently is. I also think a SP4 with a clamshell option would greatly improve its laptop functionality for many users as well. I'd probably throw in 4g as well, for real mobile tablet use. Combined with a better-integrated metro/desktop experience and a desktop/ full browser experience that was more touch friendly, and I think you'd have a real winner for the vast majority of users.

    Even so, there's still the lingering issue of the desire for 2 devices. It can just be very functional for some users to have a more powerful laptop and a small, cheap, mobile, 4g tablet with pen input. It's nice to have something like the TT2 or the Note 8-- it does only 1 or 2 things very well, but what it does well, it does waaaay better than a larger device like the SP3. Throw in the fact that they're waaaaaay cheaper, and for me, the need to protect them becomes less important. Then, based in part on dollar value, and in part on the fact that its only a secondary device, I can use it "naked"-- this allows me a truly lightweight, 4g, Wacom-enable, silo-toting device for one primary use-- mobile note taking and access to documents, whereever I might be.

    That's just something I've not been able to get around. If you discover that's your preference, then, yes, the 2 device option is where its at, whatever other gripes or concerns one might have about a device like the SP3.
     
  10. rlx

    rlx Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I am surprised that Microsoft didn't provide something like the "Motion Dashboard"
    motion_dashboard.jpg
     

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