Microsoft Surface 3- Take 2
My first Microsoft Surface 3 was a lemon but after Microsoft replaced the product I had a second chance trying to use it.
One of the nice things about the Microsoft Surface 3 Type Cover is that it doesn't use Bluetooth. Instead it uses a magnetic interface that easily snaps into place on your Microsoft Surface 3. This means that when you first start up your Microsoft Surface 3, unlike other tablets where are you need to wait until you can pair the Bluetooth connection on the keyboard, all you need to do is just clip on the cover and you can immediately start using the keyboard. This is especially useful during the initial setup screens where there is a lot of typing involved. The tactile feel of of the keyboard is very responsive and great to use at night as well with its illuminated keyboard.
With my replaced Surface 3, startup was a lot easier and I could use the Type Cover keyboard to immediately start typing and navigating the screen without having to touch the display (just like in a traditional PC).
Power charging was no longer an issue with the Surface 3 USB charger. In fact, the Microsoft salesperson who helped me with my purchase was correct in that other USB chargers can be used to power the Surface 3. This is handy when you travel and don't want to have to lug around a variety of different cables and power chargers. The Surface 3 Pro series do come with their own proprietary power adapters so this is something to consider if deciding between the Surface 3 or Surface 3 Pro lines.
The Surface Pen is a little heaver than a normal pen given the battery and active electronics inside it. You don't actually have to press the pen on top of the display to navigate- the display is sensitive enough to pick up the pen's movements even if the pen's tip is hovering a centimeter above the surface. The pen also serves as a mouse, and you can use the bottom buttons as your right click and erase, while the top button can be used to call up OneNote.
You must pair the Pen over Bluetooth with your Surface 3 in order to use the top button feature. This means you need to hold down the top button for several seconds in order to start the Bluetooth pairing process on your Surface 3.
OneNote is specifically designed to highlight the features of the Pen where you can easily manipulate the text of objects that you write.
OneNote is designed to work across of difference PC's, tablets, and smartphones so you need to have a Microsoft Account to use it.
One useful application for OneNote is to make notes and comments on things like music sheets. For sports, you can take pictures with the Surface camera and make play by play drawings and notes on the picture.
OneNote also integrates well with Microsoft Explorer, and we can make annotations right on the web page and share the annotated webpage with others or just save for your reference later on.
You can also use the Surface Pen to write in most major languages. Handwriting recognition is still not foolproof but it's come a long way.
Microsoft is also promoting Cortana as a key feature of their Windows 10 rollout. Like Apple's Siri, Cortana allows you to use voice to ask questions and make simple commands. However, Cortana can be better integrated into the Surface. It's hard to find where to even start Cortana- you can't just hold a button like on other tablets or smartphones to call up voice assistance. One way to start Cortana is to just enter the Search bar on the bottom of the screen.
One strange thing about using Microsoft's Cortana on Microsoft Surface 3 is that you get a warning message saying that the microphone used on the Surface 3 is not designed for Cortana? Huh? You almost get the feeling that you are using some other company's PC disguising itself as a Microsoft tablet product.
After this setup Cortana could recognize my voice commands and like Siri had its own personality.
Overall the Microsoft Surface 3 is great if you want a Windows machine in a tablet form factor and the ability to use your Windows programs and connect to more USB products (like printers) and Displays. At times though, the Surface 3 with Windows 10 still feels more like a PC trying to be a tablet. Most tablets have an easily accessible button to quickly call up the camera. On the Surface 3 you need to hunt for the Camera App within Windows 10. Most people I saw fixing their Surface at the Microsoft Store were older professional types, so perhaps the target market are those that want to use their tablets as productivity tool rather than for Snapchat and Instagram.