Surface 3 with Type Cover Review: Can the Bundle Replace Your Laptop?

Surface 3 with Type Cover
Surface 3 with Type Cover

Microsoft Surface 3 is a Windows 8 (or Windows 10) tablet. You can use it in tablet mode or desktop mode with a Type Cover.

Microsoft claims that it can replace your laptop. Is it true?

I had an opportunity to use a Surface 3 and Type Cover for a few weeks. Read on for my review to find out more.

Disclosure: I do not use Windows 8 in tablet mode at all. I set it to login directly into desktop mode.

Surface 3 Design

Surface 3 is not the thinnest tablet but it has a good build. It is lightweight at only 622 gram. Simply drop it in your bag and you are Windows productivity ready on the go.

It has 1x full-size USB 3.0 port, 1x mini DisplayPort and a microSD memory card slot hidden under the kickstand. It is equipped with 3.5MP front camera and 8MP rear camera. The power button and volume rocker are on the same side.

You charge Surface 3 via a microUSB port — yes, the same charging port found on other non-Apple smartphones.

Tip: With optional accessory, you can turn the microUSB port into a full-size USB port, too.

Surface 3 ports
Surface 3 ports

Single USB port means you may need a USB hub to connect to computer accessories. The upper position of USB port in laptop mode make your USB hub hanging in the air. It is ugly.

I would suggest Microsoft to replace the microSD memory card reader with a standard SD memory card reader. I would rather have an SD card reader to conveniently import my camera’s photos for editing and upload.

Surface 3 microSD card slot
Surface 3 microSD card slot

It is not a smartphone, you do not add a microSD memory card to expands the storage space. 128GB is enough for most users, and we have portable external storage.

The kickstand with shining Microsoft logo can adjust to 3 angles. I find it limited. I have to adjust myself to find a better viewing angle.

The thin kickstand can hold the tablet firmly on a flat surface. No bouncing nor shaking when you tap on its touchscreen. But Surface 3 is standing less stable — because the small surface of the kickstand and tablet body — when you place it on a non-flat surface, such as your laps.

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Surface 3 a Windows 8 tablet computer (Windows 10 ready), it runs all your Windows desktop software — A great improvement from previous Surface RT which runs only Windows Store apps.

The main advantages of using Surface 3 is its portability. It is smaller and lighter than Ultrabook laptop, yet it has the power to run your Windows software.

Surface 3
Surface 3 running Windows 8

The Windows tablet is powered by Intel Atom x7-z8700 @ 1.6GHz processor with 2GB/4GB RAM and 64GB/128GB SSD storage.

Intel Atom is not a powerful processor but it can handle most computing tasks, such as running office suite, web surfing, playing videos and music, simple graphic editing.

The 10.8-inch FullHD (1920×1280) display is so bright that I have to set the 3rd lowest level to type this article.

You will need to wear a pair of sunglasses at its highest brightness level. The bright display may be useful to show screen content under direct sunlight.

For a tablet, Surface 3’s stereo speakers with Dolby audio have clear and loud audio output. The battery last around 6 to 8 hours for my moderate usage: web surfing and streaming online music.

Surface 3 does not come with useless pre-installed 3rd party software (bloatware). What you get is a tablet with clean, pure Windows installation. The 128GB model has 100GB usable disk space out of the box.

It also comes with free 1-year Microsoft Office 365, which you can online download and activate.

Surface 3 Type Cover

Surface 3
Surface 3

Surface 3 is not complete without the Surface 3 Type Cover, and it will cost you additional RM479. Surface 3 and Type Cover should be sold as a bundle, instead of additional purchase.

Recently, Microsoft (finally) make a Surface 3 and Type Cover bundle with 10% discount.

Type Cover does 2 things: 1. Protect your Surface 3 and 2. Adds a physical keyboard to Surface 3. It does not expand any Surface 3’s input/output ports.

Surface 3
Surface 3 Type Cover

The Type Cover feels flimsy with a smooth leather-like surface, which adds grip and avoid fingerprints and smudge.

Surface 3 Type Cover attach magnetically to Surface 3 and draw power via metal pins. It is strong and does not detach easily.

I like the row of function keys. The keyboard is backlit and you can adjust the brightness level using function keys. Neat!

Volume control is not found on Type Cover keyboard. Microsoft wants you to use the volume rocker on the tablet.

Surface 3
Surface 3 Type Cover

Surface 3 Type Cover has a small trackpad to keep your palm on the keyboard, do not need to raise up your hand to touch the screen. Web page scrolling is a bit lagging using the trackpad.

The trackpad is usable, but I wish it is bigger. Am I asking too much, considering the small size of Type Cover?

The Surface 3 Type Cover’s magnetic flap folds up and snaps to the front of the tablet to raises the keyboard for comfortable typing angle, but it will  slightly blocking finger access to windows taskbar at the bottom. Not a problem if you use a mouse or trackpad, though.

The keyboard keys’ travel distance is shallow, the key size is near to full-size keyboard. It is comfortable to type and definitely better than virtual touch keyboard.


Surface 3
Surface 3 with Type Cover in tablet mode

In a nutshell, I like Surface 3 because it is a lightweight, no bloatware, and stable Windows tablet.

Surface 3 is a Microsoft hardware. Logically, it will highly supported by Microsoft Windows operating system and drivers. Thus, fewer problems and more stable than the other OEM computers.

This is the confidence you get when you are buying a Microsoft Surface device.

I would recommend it anyone who need a portable Windows computer for office work. Just make sure you buy the Surface 3 Type Cover, too. It is a must-have.

The only deal breaker would be the Surface 3 price. It is RM1,989 (64GB) or RM2,389 (128GB), plus RM479 for Surface 3 Type Cover.

The total cost of the Surface 3 bundle can buy you a lightweight and more powerful ultrabook computer.

Photo Gallery: Surface 3 and Type Cover

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