Microsoft Surface 3 Pro

As a dyed in the wool group of Apple enthusiasts, it’s tough to ignore the new Surface 3 Pro from Microsoft.  We can argue the Windows vs. Mac interface until we become exhausted, so let’s leave that out of it, shall we – that’s a great way to waste hours of your life on an internet forum some evening.

From a strictly hardware perspective, both the Apple MacBook Air and the Surface 3 Pro fall down for the power user, only offering 8GB of memory as the maximum.  And, neither allows you to upgrade the memory once you’ve made your choice, so there’s no point in getting less than 8GB.  However, if you can live with 8GB, the Surface is an intriguing way to bridge the gap between laptop and tablet in more ways than one.

First, the Surface 3 Pro is almost a pound lighter than the 13-inch Mac Book Air, though its screen is an inch smaller – not a deal breaker, but those doing a lot of intense Photoshop or Excel work will grudgingly give up that extra inch, begging the question, why don’t these guys make a 17-inch version?  Where some audiophiles like to argue that bits are bits, many computerphiles will argue that pixels are pixels.  However, the Surface 3 Pro’s screen looks a lot more like the Retina display on the MacBook Pro, with more snap and saturation than what’s fitted to the MacBook Air.

Connectivity is roughly the same, as is processor speed – the Mac using the Intel i7 processor and the Surface 3 Pro the i3, i5, or i7, depending on model chosen.  Again, computer geekazoids will argue this point, but casual use of Word and Photoshop proved equally perky on both platforms.  The Surface 3 Pro claims a battery life of 9 hours, losing a bit of ground to the MacBook Air, but still more than enough to go from New York to Europe with ease.

The keyboard is critical to any laptop, and unlike all of the dreadful iPad keyboards we’ve auditioned, the keyboard/case cover offered with the Surface 3 Pro is exceptional, feeling better than the Apple laptop keyboards albeit with keys a little bit closer together – but not too much to stop you from typing frantically.  What the cute ads don’t come right out and tell you is that the keyboard is another $129, pushing the top model over the $2,000 mark and straight into MacBook Pro Retina territory.  Food for thought.

Extra touches abound that make the Surface 3 Pro a highly sophisticated portable computing platform.  The ability to fold it into a tablet, and one that is slightly larger than an iPad is extremely useful.  Using both a Mac Book Pro and an iPad on trips, the ability to have one device that only weighs 1.76 pounds than can perform both duties is very enticing indeed.

Even though Microsoft’s Surface 3 Pro is a better portable computing device than the MacBook Air, dedicated Mac users probably won’t switch. – Jeff Dorgay

Microsoft Surface 3 Pro

$799 – $1,999