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

Surface 3 with Type Cover
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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Performance

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.

Conclusion

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

Surface Pro 3 Price in Malaysia

Surface Pro 3 in Malaysia
Surface Pro 3 in Malaysia
Surface Pro 3 in Malaysia

Surface Pro 3 tablet computer with Windows 8.1 Pro is officially available in Malaysia from 28 August 2014. Price start from RM2729, exclude RM409 type cover.

Surface Pro 3 price & availability in Malaysia

Surface Pro 3 price in Malaysia starts from RM 2,729 (Intel Core i3, 64GB, 4GB RAM version) up to RM6,779 for highest specs (Intel Core i7, 512GB, 8GB RAM).

  • RM 2,729 – Intel Core i3, 64GB, 4GB RAM
  • RM 3,299 – Intel Core i5, 128GB, 4GB RAM
  • RM 4,199 – Intel Core i5, 256GB, 8GB RAM
  • RM 4,999 – Intel Core i7, 256GB, 8GB RAM
  • RM 6,779 – Intel Core i7, 512GB, 8GB RAM

All Surface Pro 3 prices exclude the essential Surface Pro Type Cover, which will cost you extra RM409.

You can buy Surface Pro 3 in Malaysia from the following Microsoft retailers and resellers:

  • Aone Plus Supplies & Services
  • Harvey Norman
  • Machanics Sdn Bhd
  • PC Image Sdn Bhd
  • Senheng Electric & senQ Digital Station
  • SNS Network
  • Thunder Match Technology
  • Viewnet Computer System

Surface Pro 3 accessories price list:

  • Surface Pro Type Cover – RM409
  • Surface Pen – RM139
  • 36W power supply – RM249
  • Surface Ethernet adapter – RM159
  • Surface Pro 3 docking station – (available for pre-order)

About Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3 is Microsoft’s latest hybrid tablet (laplet) computer running Windows 8.1 Pro.

It has a 12-inch touch display with 2160×1440 pixels (216 ppi) and powered by 4th generation Intel Core processor family (i3, i5, i7). Available storage option available from 64GB to 512GB, with microSD slot supporting up to 128GB. The build-in kickstand has multiple positions capable of opening up to 150 degrees.

The laplet has dual 5.0 megapixel cameras on rear and front, as well as, a full size USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, and a headset jack. It has front-facing stereo speakers and dual microphones. A Surface Pen with pressure sensitivity included.

The battery life last up to 9 hours of web browsing on single charge. It is only 800g weight.

Thoughts

I wonder why don’t Microsoft just include the Surface Pro Type Cover with Surface Pro 3 as a bundle? So far I don’t see other third-party keyboard cover for Surface Pro 3 yet. Yes, you can use any bluetooth keyboard with Surface Pro 3.

The included Surface Pen is a gift if you want to take hand-written notes or drawing with pen on tablet. I have a Windows 8 tablet computer with pen, too. How often do I use the pen? None. Yet, my wife, who is a lecturer, would love to have a digital pen to make remarks on notes.

Surface Pro 3 processor, RAM, and storage are not user upgradable. I will avoid Intel i3 64GB version because Windows 8.1 Pro and Microsoft Office would taken up most of the space already.

Surface Pro 3 (Intel Core i7) seems to have over-heating problem and Microsoft promises a software fix.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is not your budget computer. It is for those who wants a lightweight Windows tablet computer with digital pen and don’t mind to pay more.

ASUS Transformer Book T300

ASUS Transformer Book T300
ASUS Transformer Book T300
ASUS Transformer Book T300

ASUS Transformer Book T300LA is a 2-in–1 laptop with 13.3-inch FullHD display and a keyboard dock, powered by 4th generation Intel Core processor. Generally, T300 is the powerful version of ASUS Transformer Book T100 (Intel Atom processor) with up to 8 hours battery life.

ASUS Transformer Book T300 features metallic design for durable and stylish. The 13.3-inch display has Full HD resolution (1920×1080) and wide 178-degree viewing angle. The touch screen can detect 6mm contact point to offer high-precision input for fine fingertip control.

You find USB 3.0 port, micro HDMI port and micro SD card slot on the T300 tablet, and a micro USB 3.0 port on the keyboard dock.

The keyboard dock uses a magnetic dock connector that make releases and snaps the tablet in a blink. It does not have build-in battery, but provides full-size keyboard with backlit keys and large multi-touch touchpad supports Windows 8 gestures.

Specs

  • Processor: 4th gen Intel Core i5 4200U
  • Operating system: Windows 8
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Display: 13.3″ Full HD IPS (1980×1080) with 10 finger touch
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • Cameras: 1080 FullHD rear camera, 720p HD front camera
  • Connectivity: WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0 (optional), USB 3.0 port, micro HDMI 1.4 port, microSD card slot, 3.5mm headphone/mic; micro-USB 3.0 port(dock)
  • Battery: 4 Cell, 6710mAh lithium polymer
  • Dimensions: Tablet: 342 x 216 x 11.5 mm, Dock: 340 x 216 x 11 mm
  • Weight: tablet 1.1KG, dock 0.8KG

Price: RM 3,399 (2-year global warranty)

(Other configurations for Transformer Book T300 also available.)

 

➤ ASUS Malaysia

Transformer Book T300 or MacBook Air?

ASUS Transformer T300 has better look, build, and specs than T100, thus the price tag. It is RM100 more expensive and 500 gram heavier (when docked) than the popular Apple MacBook Air 13″ (RM 3299).

Unless you really like to use Windows 8 in tablet mode, I will spend my money on MBA 13″ with better processor.

16 Best New Features of Windows 8.1 You Want to Know

Windows 8.1 personalized lock screen

Windows 8.1 – a free update to Windows 8 – has been launched in October 2013. Windows 8.1 maybe looks identical to Windows 8 but there are many new features and improvements inside.

Here I compiled a list of 16 best new features of Windows 8.1. Let us know which feature you like most in the comment section?

1. Start button is back! (not really…)

Windows 8.1 Start button
Windows 8.1 Start button

Good news: “Start button is back in Windows 8.1.”
Bad news: “It is not THE Start button.”

Microsoft brings back the classic “Start” button in Windows 8.1 after removed it in Windows 8 (criticized by many users).

However, it is not the old Start button that we know. Click/tap on it bring you to Start screen (Modern UI a.k.a Metro UI) by default, not the old Windows cascade menu.

“What da…!”

Good thing is that you can change the Start button to show all your apps (Apps view) – Goto “navigation” tab on the taskbar properties dialog, tick “Show the Apps view automatically when I goto Start”.

In media discussion with Sunny Ooi, Consumer Channels Group Director Microsoft Malaysia, pointed out that “traditional Windows cascade menu is not ideal for touch screen and different screen sizes – small to big”.

Additionally, power users can access Windows admin tools – event viewer, device manager, disk management, computer management, Windows PowerShell, etc – and shut down/restart device by right clicking the Start button.

2. Start directly to Desktop

Many traditional Windows users and those who do not own a touchscreen device would like to skip Windows 8 start screen and boot directly into Desktop mode.

Windows 8.1 Start screen settings
Windows 8.1 Start screen settings (Image credit: MaximumPC)

Now you can do it with Windows 8.1. On the “navigation” tab on the taskbar properties dialog, tick “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start”.

3. More Start Screen visual options

Windows 8.1 Start screen showsing 4 different tile sizes
Windows 8.1 Start screen showsing 4 different tile sizes

App tiles on Start screen now can have 4 sizes: Large, Wide, Medium, Small. Large and Small are new tile sizes. Large tile size is 2x the height of Wide tile; Small tile is a quarter of Medium size.

You can select multiple app tiles and move them all at once. No more moving one-by-one as in Windows 8.

Start screen background can use Desktop wallpaper. The setting is “Show my desktop background on Start” on the “navigation” tab on the taskbar properties dialog.

4. All Apps view

Windows 8.1 all apps view
Windows 8.1 all apps view

Want to see all your installed apps in a view? Simply hit Ctrl+Tab to toggle between the All Apps View and the default Start Screen view.

Or, swipe up for All Apps View and swipe down for default view in the middle of the Start Screen.

5. Improved multitasking and productivity

Windows 8.1 multi-tasking
Windows 8.1 multi-tasking

Now you can have up to 4 apps side-by-side in Windows 8.1 for double productivity (only 2 apps in Windows 8). Each app on screen can have flexible size.

Multi-monitor support has been improved so that you can view the desktop or modern apps on any or all monitors.

6. Bing Smart Search

New Bing Smart Search will find everywhere – documents on device, SkyDrive, apps, song from Xbox Music, website – for your search query.

You can watch videos, play music and check Bing maps directly from the search results.

7. Windows Store Redesigned

Windows 8.1 redesigned Windows Store
Windows 8.1 redesigned Windows Store

Windows Store has new layouts and categories, such as New & Rising make it easier to stay up to date on the hottest apps.

Personalized recommendations powered by Bing advanced recommendation and relevance system help you to find your new favorites.

Best of all, apps are updated automatically by default. You always have the newest and best version of any app.

8. New lock screen

Windows 8.1 personalized lock screen
Windows 8.1 personalized lock screen

New Windows 8.1 lock screen allows you to turn your device into a digital picture frame by showing your selected photo gallery.

You can also access camera and answer Skype calls without unlock screen first.

9. Modify settings from Start

In Windows 8.1, you do not need to enter Desktop mode to modify your computer settings. Many settings can be accessed from within the Start Screen interface.

10. Better touchscreen typing

Windows 8.1 now has better touchscreen typing. It learns as you type and make suggestions based on what you have written before.

Touch keyboard child keys
Touch keyboard child keys (Image credit: Winsupersite)

Plus, you can press and hold on a key to get other options such as numbers or language-specific alternatives.

One more thing, Emoji icons are now in colour!

11. Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11
Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11 is designed for touch screen with larger tabs and simpler controls, as well as speed boosts, and sync browsing history, favorites and settings across all your Windows 8.1 devices.

IE 11 features redesigned developer tools, support for WebGL,enhanced scaling for high DPI screens,SPDY, prerender and prefetch. (WikiPedia)

12. Your Windows follows you

When you logon Windows 8.1 with your Microsoft account, your Windows stuff – Windows settings, photos, apps, music, and so on – are automatically synced. Apps not on your device are not automatically download but you can see the app icon in All Apps View and one-click to install them.

13. SkyDrive Cloud in Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 Skydrive
Windows 8.1 Skydrive

With deep SkyDrive cloud integration in Windows 8.1, you can create, edit and save files to SkyDrive cloud just like you save files on your PC.

Then, you can online access the latest version of your files anywhere, anytime on whatever device you are using.

Since your files are online and backed up on SkyDrive, they are always safe, even something bad happens to your device.

14. Native 3D Printing Support

Windows 8.1 is the 1st operating system provides native support for 3D printing. It has plug-and-play support for 3D printers, enable apps to print 3D jobs and understand 3D file formats.

15. High-DPI and DPI Scaling Support

In Windows 8.1 each display can have its own dot-per-inch (DPI) scaling factor which makes the relative scale of content consistent.

Meaning, if you have multiple displays mixed with normal resolution and 4K monitor or ultra-high resolution laptop, the on-screen content will be scaled consistently across different displays.

16. Quiet Time

Windows 8.1 Quiet Time
Windows 8.1 Quiet Time (Image credit: Lifehacker)

Windows 8.1’s Quiet Time is your device’s “Do Not Disturb” mode. You can put your device to stay silent — no app notification allowed — for a preset time, like nighttime. Goto Windows Settings, then Search and Apps, turn Quiet Hours on in Notifications and set the quiet hours.

Bonus: FREE Windows 8.1!

Windows 8.1 is free update for Windows 8 users. The online update download size is over 3GB.

  1. At Start screen, tap or click Store tile.
  2. Tap or click the Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 in Store.
  3. Tap or click Download.
  4. Download will start and install in the background while you can still use your PC to do other things.

Read more information on Windows 8.1 update here.

New Windows devices are also shipped with Windows 8.1 since October 2013.

Buy Windows 8.1

If your PC is not currently running Windows 8 or Windows RT, you can buy Windows 8.1 online download at USD119.99 and Windows 8.1 Pro for USD$199.99. DVD box edition is USD$169 for Windows 8.1 and $289.99 for Windows 8.1 Pro.

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Now you learn the 16 best features of Windows 8.1. Which one is your favourite? Did I miss out any new features? What are the features you would like to see in Windows 8.2? Please tell us in the comment.

Toshiba Satellite L40 Laptop Review and Benchmarks in Malaysia

Toshiba Satellite L40 laptop

Toshiba Satellite L40 laptop

After my Toshiba Satellite S40t review, I received another Toshiba laptop for review – Toshiba Satellite L40, which looks identical to S40t until you lift up the lid and see a NVDIA GeForce sticker at the left palm rest and no touch screen display.

Read my Toshiba Satellite L40 laptop review below to find out more about the mid-range laptop’s features, performance, good vs. bad.

You are invited to read my Toshiba Satellite S40t review before continue.

Specs and Price

Toshiba Satellite L40 has many different configurations you can buy according to your requirements.

The following is the hardware specs of the L40 review unit I received (one of the best configuration):

  • Intel Core i5–3337U @ 1.8GHz
  • 14.1-inch LED backlight screen, resolution 1366×768 pixels
  • 4GB DDR3 1600Mhz RAM (expandable to 16GB)
  • 750GB Hard Disk
  • Intel HD 4000 graphics
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M with 2GB video RAM
  • Onkyo® Stereo speakers enhanced with DTS Sound
  • DVD-RW drive
  • 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • HDMI out, Bluetooth, LAN port
  • HD web camera
  • Windows 8 (64-bit)
  • Weight 1.95KG

The recommended retail price for Toshiba Satellite L40 (Intel Core i5) is RM2199.

Design and Features

Toshiba Satellite L40 laptop

The review unit I received is glossy white colour, pure white, white from outside to inside, so white that you can’t find other colour on it! If you love white colour, you will fall in love to white L40 and hug it to sleep.

By the way, white colour can hide fingerprints and smudges quite well.

While I am examining L40’s body, I realised that L40 and S40t (read my review here) has the same input/output layout: DVD-RW drive, LAN port and a USB 2.0 port is at the left side; VGA out, HDMI out, 2x USB 3.0 ports, headphone and mic jacks at the right side; SD memory card reader is at the front.

Both models have the same tiled keyboard with glossy frame and matt key. The keys are not enough tactile feedback for my personal preference. I like the top row of playback control keys allow me to control music player with single key press.

Toshiba Satellite L40 laptop - keyboard layout
Toshiba Satellite L40 laptop – keyboard layout

I am glad to see L40 is too has Onkyo stereo speakers above keyboard. The DTS sound enhanced speakers gives you good and loud surround sound for music playback and gaming. I would like to have more bass though.

L40 has a large touchpad but it has some touchpad issues. It supports Windows 8 scrolling and swiping gesture but page scrolling is not smooth and mis-detects gestures a lot. Please help yourself and buy a mouse for L40.

Unlike S40t with touch screen display, you can not touch L40’s screen to navigate around in Windows 8. I was guilty for poking L40 display few times and wish it response to my fingers.

Without a touch screen panel, L40 can save the cost to give you better graphic performance – dedicated graphic card. Read on to find out the L40’s performance.

Performance

With Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, and  a dedicated graphic card, how is the Toshiba Satellite L40’s performance?

In my personal experience, I noticed L40 sometimes briefly stop responding for 0.5 second then continue its work. I also see Windows spinning cursor (indicate that it is working) quite frequently, probably busy disk activities.

Here’s PCMark 8 scores for L40:

  • Home: 2520
  • Creative: 2595
  • Work: 4205

Compare with other devices:

[table id=1 /]

PCMark8 benchmark - L40

I wonder why L40’s PCMark 8 performance (Home) is so much behind S40t? The latter is Intel Core i3 @1.9GHz and the L40 review unit is Intel Core i5 @1.8GHz.

Thanks to dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 740M graphic card, L40 has no problem to play most 3D video games at medium video quality.

Here’s 3DMark 11 resutls for L40:

  • Fire Strike: 953
  • Cloud Gate: 5033
  • Ice Storm: 47403

Compare with other devices:

[table id=2 /]

3Dmark11 benchmark - L40

Toshiba Satellite L40 battery life is about 3 hours with my usage: web surfing on WiFi, streaming music at 80% screen brightness.

I noticed that L40 gets warm quiet fast. You can feel the right palm rest is warm just few minutes after boot up the laptop. I definitely not recommend you to use L40 on your bare laps.

Photo Gallery

Conclusion

The Good

  • great sound output
  • full array of built-in ports
  • dedicated graphic card
  • affordable price

The Bad

  • touchpad issues, movements are not smooth
  • right palm rest gets warm fast

I can not help but compare Toshiba Satellite L40 to Toshiba Satellite S40t (read my review here).

They look alike, have same speaker, keyboard and not-so-smooth big track pad. L40 does not have a touch screen display but it has better processor and dedicated graphic card.

Both L40 and S40t are in same price range, I would recommend L40 to casual gamers who do not care about Windows 8 touch features.

➤ Toshiba Malaysia

I would like to thank TOSHIBA for the opportunity to review Toshiba Satellite L40. This is a free product review with honest write-up. Interesting to submit your products for review? Get in touch with me.