Surface 3 or Ipad or Android Tablet

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Aushiker, Jan 6, 2016.

  1. My (or rather works) iPad has suffered a cracked screen and well I think I will be pushing my luck asking for a replacement so I am looking at a personal tablet option.

    So besides general web surfing, portability and taking it with me bicycle touring I would like to be able to use my replacement tablet at work as well.

    Ideally I would like to be able to use the tablet when lecturing so being able to run PowerPoint and connect to an external monitor would be great. Also being able to use a remote would be a bonus. Asking to much or would a Surface do the trick?

    I appreciate my iPad really didn’t tick the box from a work perspective but if I am paying the dollars myself I might as well and try and get the ideal tool.

    Also for any Surface users what is the Microsoft App store like?

    Anyway any thoughts on my options? Suggestions on Android tablets?

  2. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Hi, the non-pro surface 3 models only have 2-4 GB RAM... Not sure what you're using at work now.

    Some of the pro models have 8 GB.

  3. So I am guessing the Windows 10 OS on the Surface is going to need RAM more like a computer than a tablet it does. From a work perspective all I would use it for is presentations. The editing would be done on my Mac laptop.
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  4. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    All pretty much IMHO -

    Surface Pro 3's are pretty much full blown laptops when you add a screen/mouse/keyboard - you'll need video dongles/usb-splitters if travelling light (or bluetooth) for accessories. Having said that, you'd need dongles and accessories for most of the devices you're suggesting unless you went full-bluetooth or used AppleTV/Chromecast for video-display.

    We've started offering Surface Pro's at work in place of laptops (along with a dock) if people want the extra mobility. Feedback has been pretty good so far - remains to be seen if they'll survive corporate wear/tear compared to the extra 'fat' in a laptop chassis.

    If you are already wedded to an Apple ecosystem (have a Mac or extensive Apple Store iTunes/iOS-App investment) then I'd stick with an iPad.

    I have some gripes with Android. Its cheaper and it'll do the job but unless you're a hacker (Cyanogenmod represent!) you'll find vendor patches and upgrades dry up as soon as they punt the next model out the door (which may be 6-12 months after you buy). It seems to be very much a consumer oriented OS rather than an Enterprise OS. Nothing wrong with that unless you have higher expectations with regards device support (particularly around Security updates and getting new OS features).

    At least with Microsoft & Apple they're pretty good with their update roadmaps and hardware support commitments.

    I've used all three (Surface at work and I personally own an iPad & HP Slate) and they can all work for you - it just depends on your work style. If you want something to replace all your devices - a Surface can replace your laptop/desktop/tablet; if you want a supplementary device to a laptop/desktop then an iPad or Android will do the trick.

    Good luck!
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  5. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    I run the cheap 2GB version of the Surface 3 for travel and productivity tablet use. Having a proper OS is the most useful thing about it - I can VPN, SSH, RDP, run Word, Powerpoint, code, plug a monitor (WiFi Miracast or Mini DisplayPort, can adapt to HDMI etc), and with a little USB hub, plug mouse, flash drive, HDD, offload camera photos from a reader, tether my E-M1, etc. Great for travel.

    The Windows store is a laugh, but it doesn't matter that much since it's a desktop OS. If you're just using it for media consumption, a cheap Android tablet or an old iPad would be better. The Surface is a little heavier than a plain tablet, especially with the keyboard, but it's well worth it if you intend to do anything productive with it.

    RAM is sufficient for Windows 10 as long as you are running mostly single user and not multi-tasking too much - i.e. tablet style use with a few tabs browsing, Word, remote desktop, etc. Touch is fine but not quite as slick as Android or iOS yet. Powerpoint is a little sluggish in edit view on 2GB RAM if you're multi-tasking (viewing is fine). HD video is playable, don't expect much more than that though. Photoshop/LR is out of the question, but lighter RAW converters and previewers are fine.

    For anything more serious get the 4GB RAM version. If you're going to be using it as a serious workstation though, a larger Surface 3 Pro fitted with at least i5 is advisable. It's actively cooled (but still pretty quiet), but less travel friendly as it's laptop sized (thinner obviously). The base i3 one is apparently not dramatically better over the passively cooled 4GB Atom Surface 3.

    The one thing I'm bugged by is power management. It kind of runs a bit like a laptop... standby drains too fast for my liking but at least with Windows 10 it now resumes pretty quickly. The charger for the Surface 3 is also less than ideal - plain micro USB doesn't quite cut it for a high drain device. If you're using it heavily the charger can't keep up. The Pro has a dedicated charger which works much better. The next generation USB C ones are also better.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016
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  6. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Even the basic Surface 3 2GB will do all that. I just spent the last 6 months commuting via plane every week for study and managed with just a backpack carrying the Surface 3 and some papers. Because I was studying I got academic pricing direct from Microsoft, I see you're an academic so you'll be able to do the same.
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  7. Thanks for the comments ... I have narrowed down my options to either the Surface 3 if I take work into consideration or an Sony Xperia Z4 if I don't. Sony do a nice keyboard by all accounts that works well with the Z4. I also have my MacBook Pro for the serious computing needs (oh and works MacBook Pro).

    Whilst I am an Mac user my phone is Android and I only had an iPad as this was all work would provide ... beggars cannot be choosers :)
  8. PeeBee

    PeeBee Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 17, 2012
    I'm an Android guy but I think it all comes down to personal preference and how well it will interact with your digital life. Google has very good cross platform compatibility. I find IOS to be 'closed off' and frustrating in use, and when I last tried the Windows Store is was extremely lacking, but this is of course my personal opinion based on the way I use my mobile devices.

    The main problem with Android is the variation on offer. There is a vast product range and you usually get what you pay for. Generally the cheaper ones offer a poorer user experience, though it's not always the case so it's best to do some product research in advance. Vendor overlays can also make a huge difference to the user experience, so I tend to look for devices that run close to stock Android if possible. As far as support goes, I find the official 'Google' products do best here. My Nexus branded and Motorola 'Moto' devices (whilst they were owned by Google) were often the first to see platform updates and have had the longest product support life.

    I can see the appeal of a Windows tablet, but since I have several desktop PCs and laptops, its never been a priority to get one. My personal order of preference is Android, Windows, IOS.
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  9. listers_nz

    listers_nz Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 22, 2013
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    The surface is basically a windows desktop that can run any windows application (thankfully Microsoft have dropped the Windows RT units) or app from the Microsoft store, which to be honest is less than extensive. The question is whether that suits you, or whether there are some must have apps that windows doesn't have. Powerpoint presentation from an android device shouldn't be an issue, as there are a number of viewers, or just iuse office365 directly.

    I have a Sony Xperia Z2 phone, and if the tablets are like the phones then it should be excellent. Also, Sony seem to be keeping their Z series up to date - the Z2 is presently running 5.1.1 and Marshmallow is aparently not far away.
  10. As far I as I can tell the Xperia Z4 is the latest Lollipop incarnation. It is at the higher end for sure in terms of pricing but seems to be well liked going by the users commenting at Whirlpool. To be honest there are a few apps which whilst are on my phone I would also like them on my tablet so if going the Surface route would need an Android emulator of some sort. They do exist but not sure that is exactly idea.

    The more I think about the more inclined I am go to Android and just continuing as I am at work and see how the refurbishing of the teaching spaces go. We are slowly moving over to having PC in the lecture theaters, well at least on one campus which means I can simply take a USB. Of course I teach more at the other campus where I need to take everything with me (no office here either) :drama:
  11. fsuscotphoto

    fsuscotphoto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2013
    St. Cloud, FL
    I love my SP 4. Best money I've spent on a pc ever.
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  12. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I'm an Android fanboy, so that is what I would recommend. If you can find a good condition Nexus 7 (gen 1 or 2) they provide the ability to use a micro HDMI for connectivity to TVs or pair them with a GoogleTV or Chromecast device for wireless goodness.

    I recommend the Nexus 7 for the price point, they should be dirt cheap.
  13. PeeBee

    PeeBee Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 17, 2012
    1st Gen Nexus 7 does not support direct video out, and I think 2nd Gen requires a SlimPort to HDMI adaptor. 1st gens are cheap and plentiful, but buying now I'd look for something with a bit more grunt. Nexus 9 maybe with 2.3ghz 64bit Tegra K1 CPU and 2gb ram, plus the bigger screen. Also, be aware that the Nexus range tend not have micro SD card slots so you can't expand the storage.
  14. MadMarco

    MadMarco Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 30, 2014
    Guildford, England
    I went through a similar selection process, wanting to replace an Android tablet with somethings that I could use when travelling and away from home.

    In the end I purchased a Dell Venue 11 7140 Windows tablet. It's full blown Windows (now running Windows 10) 10" 1920x1080 screen, Intel Core M processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB hard disk with built in LTE modem card. I bought it from the Dell Outlet store to technically it's reconditioned, but looks brand new to me. Cost for the tablet was £320 with the chiclet type keyboard costing me a further £80.

    The setup is very similar to the SP devices although somewhat smaller, which is exactly what I wanted. It easily gets lost in a small rucksack. All in all I'm really happy with the tablet, the performance and battery life are both great and it runs Photoshop no problem.

    P.S. it also has a HDMI mini port, it's also really handy for presenting or watching movies on a TV
  15. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Wife has a HP SPECTRE 360 laptop that is very nice. Almost Surface size and half the price.

    I have an iPad Pro that I love. The screen is beautiful and so much easier to see things. Heavy, but read a magazine on it once and you're fine with the smaller ones. :)

    Surface was great, but pricey I thought.
  16. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    It's probably been 20 years since I owned a desktop computer. One laptop/tablet plus docks hooked to a real monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Home, work, vacation home. Three docks. The advantage is that I always have all my stuff. If there are things that I don't want a potential thief to have access to, I just store them on the home or work network. My last tablet was a Fujitsu P1630. I held onto that one until this spring, waiting, waiting, for a small (8") Windows tablet which never appeared. I finally caved in and bought a Surface Pro 3.

    My SP3 has the i5 because i7 benchmarks didn't seem to offer a major improvement in speed. I have 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. I have not run LightRoom on this machine, but LR runs just fine on a similar i5 machine so I am sure the SP3 will run it just fine.

    Other than its larger-than-I-want size, the SP3 is a dream to use as a portable tablet. Handwriting recognition is very accurate and using the stylus on the Win 8.1 desktop paradigm is easy. Running Office is fine; PowerPoint presentations require a cheap adapter cord to your favorite video connector. I rarely use the Metro paradigm and have had even less interest in the MS app store. I have not upgraded to Win 10 yet, but I do have that on my wife's new Dell XPS 13 and I'm sure it will be fine on the SP3. Win 10 just doesn't offer me any compelling reason to upgrade, so I am in no rush.

    For international or extended travel where I don't want to carry the big SP3 and don't want to risk theft or damage, I carry a Gen II Google Nexus 7 with a cellular data SIM. This is fine for email and web browsing. I also use Copilot Live for navigation on the ground and iFly GPS for navigation in the air. My Gen I N7 would suffice but it's not upgradeable to Marshmallow, which has some nice battery-saving features that I like.

    So there's one set of experiences. If I were you and you are as much of a cheapskate as I am, I would look for a good used Surface Pro 3 bundled with a dock or two. The SP4 would be nice but probably not necessary for a relatively undemanding workload. Bring all-day Photoshop & graphics work into the picture and probably no tablet would be really effective.
  17. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    I've been bringing an iPad (iPad2, now iPad Air2) with me on my motorcycle trips for the past 4+ years. Before that, it was a netbook, which was larger and slower. I always get 64GB model so that I can download photos as backup and for sharing while on the road. When it comes time to upgrade I'll be looking at the 7" tablets just for the size/weight savings. I thought about the Surface but I'm inclined to get something like a Dell XPS13 instead because I'd like a good keyboard and to be able to use it on my lap. An XPS12 is coming soon and it's got a cool way to connect/disconnect the keyboard and display.
  18. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    I've tried Android emulation... eventually got it working but not worth the effort IMO. Setup was a bit of a mission and 2GB of memory wasn't really enough to run it properly... If you want to use apps Android is still where it's at. You can also just use a pretty cheap Chromecast to project the screen to HDMI via WiFi.
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  19. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I've just replaced an aging iPad 2 with a Lenova Yoga 2 10" Windows 10 tablet. It's absolutely fantastic. Very snappy compared to the iPad which got slower and slower with each iOS release to the point that it became unusable. Only 2GB RAM, but with a 32 bit OS it's plenty unless you want to run big apps. Having said that, it runs LR5.7 at an acceptable speed so as a limited use travel tablet it's just fine. Battery life is 12-15 hours so no worse than the iPad.

    I'm personally now completely sold on Windows-based tablets. Microsoft have done a very good job on Windowa 10 - massive improvement over 8.1. Sure, app store is light at the moment, but it'll get better and in any case I never really used the Apple app store much anyhow.
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  20. MadMarco

    MadMarco Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 30, 2014
    Guildford, England
    Agreed, I can't see me going back to an Android or iPad tablets any time soon. They are good for consuming media and light-weight tasks, but for being creative or hardcore image editing you need a proper computer.