Microsoft are promoting the Surface Pro 3 as a true laptop and tablet replacement. I‘ve heard this claim before, so was a little sceptical that the Surface Pro 3 could deliver.

Let me tell you from firsthand experience – it does! So much so that I purchased one last year and use it almost every day. While I never need an excuse to buy new technology, the issue is always how to gently integrate it into my daily life without raising the ire of family members.

As I already had a perfectly good (and light) laptop, and a tablet or two sporting various operating systems, how would the Surface Pro 3 change the way I worked? What was I looking for that I didn’t already have?

First and foremost was flexibility. I wanted a device that could be many things without compromising either the table or the laptop. Whilst still not perfect – it certainly goes a long way to being the true laptop / table replacement.

Screen Size: The Surface Pro 3 has a 12” screen – equivalent to a lot of smaller notebooks (Ultrabooks) in the market, but a lot thinner at 9.1mm. The Full HD Plus resolution is 2160 x 1440, has a 3:2 aspect ratio and is multi touch. It’s a great screen to use – regardless of whether you are typing/reading an email, looking at pictures or watching a training video. I have found it more than a good replacement to my existing work provided laptop.

Surface Pen: N-trig designed Pen is easy to hold, and is the first stylus I have used on a tablet that actually feels like a pen (I have written with fountain pens since I was in prep school!). I particularly like the ’wake up‘ function – press the top button on the Pen and it wakes the tablet up – and takes you to One Note (even when locked).

It also features right click and erase buttons. I use the Pen to write notes as an alternative to the optional keyboard – and the fact that it can decipher my left handed scrawl is amazing. This is probably the major attraction I have to the Surface Pro 3 over any other tablet I have used. A large part of this blog was written with the Pen rather than typing. Be careful not to lose your Pen.

It sits against the side of the tablet via a magnet in the charging port – or you can use the Microsoft supplied loop that adheres to the underside of the keyboard. Unfortunately after a few weeks my loop lost its stickiness and is no longer useful.

Detachable Keyboard/Cover and Kickstand: As the Surface Pro 3 can be a laptop or a tablet, it makes good sense to have a keyboard that is detachable – and optional. Just to add a little bit of personalisation, you can chose from red, purple, blue, black and cyan (I chose black). The keyboard attaches to the tablet via a magnet and has two positions to meet your personal preferences in keyboard angle. The trackpad is quite effective as a mouse alternative – or you can purchase the Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition that will work up to approximately 10 meters away. The kickstand at the back of the tablet gives you multiple viewing positions. The kickstand also covers the microSD port.

Expandability: I love the fact that the Surface Pro 3 has a full sized USB port as well as a microSD card reader and mini display port. Quite often I will be working on a blog or creating a presentation, and want to review or add to it at home. Rather than taking my laptop home, I save the file(s) on a USB stick and simply continue working on my Surface Pro 3 off-site. Additionally I often load high resolution photographs from my camera for viewing and editing. Once completed, I transfer them to a portable hard disk for safe backup. This is in addition to storing them in the Cloud of course.

Connectivity: When at home I connect my Surface Pro 3 via WiFi (the Surface Pro 3 is WiFi 802.11 ac compatible). When in the office it’s a combination of WiFi and hard wired through the optional Surface Ethernet Adaptor. When I am out and about I connect via the Telstra WiFi 4G Advanced Pro X personal hotspot (see break out box below). If you were using the Surface Pro 3 as your regular workstation, I would recommend the Docking Station – so you have instant access to the network, power, full size keyboard and external monitors.

A true business tool: By adding Microsoft Office 365 Professional I am able to work remotely as if I were seated at my office. Running Microsoft Windows 8.1, the Surface Pro 3 has a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it becomes available.
In summary: The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 meets my needs for versatility, weight, pen-input, usability, expandability and battery life. And with the 4G Advanced Pro X WiFi hotspot, you can add connectivity to this list too.

Telstra WiFi 4G Advanced Pro X

The Advanced Pro X is a great companion to my Microsoft Surface Pro 3, providing me with WiFi access when I am out and about. I know we talk a lot about our network capabilities – but I guess until you have had one of those “wow” moments, it may not mean that much to you.

Over the weekend I was in Geelong, staying in an apartment with no WiFi or Foxtel (dark ages I know!). Did I worry? Not at all. Powering up my Advanced Pro X, my Surface Pro was online in less than a minute. eMail, Foxtel Go, and even Netflix all running smoothly. The Pro X supports WiFi b/g/n, 2.4 and 5GHz.

Key for me is reliability, ease of use, and battery life. The Advanced Pro X ticks all of these boxes, as well as allowing up to 10 WiFi enabled devices to connect at once. (When travelling with my family – all of whom are tech savvy, and have at least two devices each – you can understand why this is a great feature!)

Let’s talk about battery life – the Advanced Pro X gives me up to 10 hours of use, though I tend to run it on mains power whenever I am near a power point (as this ensures I have maximum battery strength when I am not plugged into the wall. The beauty of using the Advanced Pro X with my Surface Pro 3 is that the battery charger for the Pro 3 has a USB adapter to dual charge the Pro X. (More than once I have left the Pro X on over night or even the weekend without being plugged in. Luckily the Pro X has up to 500 hours of standby.)

The LCD toggle screen shows me at a glance approximately how much data I have used against my monthly allowance, what my battery life is, and any notifications. Simple to operate, with an intuitive menu system.

I also like the size and weight of the Advanced Pro X. Being 106mm x 66mm x 15.9mm and weighing 155g, taking it with you when you leave the office is never a problem.

The Advanced Pro X works with WiFi enabled Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows OS – something I appreciate as I run all of these environments. Truly the Advanced Pro X should be on your “bucket list”.

Please note that the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is available from Telstra only for selected Telstra Business, Enterprise and Government customers who acquire the devices on the following plans: Telstra Mobile Broadband plans and Enterprise Mobile Broadband plans.