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Surface 3 Starbucks

My Microsoft Surface 3 Review

A couple of weeks ago I got myself a Microsoft Surface 3 as a secondary device to my Surface Pro 3. While I am totally happy with my Surface Pro 3 as my daily driver on the road, in the office or at home, I wanted a secondary device for home tablet use and to showcase some new Windows 10 scenarios with Azure Active Directory and Office 365 integration. I got some tweets from some user who wanted to know my feedback on the device and so here is a small review:

Technical Specifications

Surface 3 Specs

  • Size 10.52″ x 7.36″ x 0.34″ (267mm x 187mm x 8.7mm)
  • Weight 1.37 lbs (622g)
  • Display 10.8” ClearType Full HD Plus Display Resolution: 1920 x 1280 Aspect ratio: 3:2 10 point multi-touch
  • Surface Pen support
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours of video playback
  • RAM/Storage 2GB RAM with 64GB storage & 4GB RAM with 128GB storage
  • Processor Quad Core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor (2MB Cache, 1.6GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.4GHz)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Full-size USB 3.0
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • microSD card reader
  • Micro USB charging port
  • Headset jack
  • Cover port
  • Software Windows 8.1
  • 1-year of Office 365 Personal with OneDrive cloud storage
  • 3.5 megapixel front-facing camera
  • 8.0 megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus
  • Microphone
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby® audio
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Proximity sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Magnetometer

I got the smallest version with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Design and Durability

Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3

Microsoft did it again, if you expect any sacrifices on design, quality and durability you are wrong. The Surface 3 comes, like the Surface Pro 3 with great design and great built quality. The Surface 3 comes with a 10 inch screen, the Surface Pro 3 comes with a 12 inch screen, but both have a 3:2 aspect ratio which I really like for getting stuff done. With that you can also use it in portrait mode without any problems.

The difference between the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 is the size and performance. With that, the Surface 3 is designed to be used as a tablet. And you can feel that, the size and especially the weight is made for tablet usage. The Surface 3 is just 200 grams lighter than the Surface Pro 3 which is just enough to hold the tablet in one or to hands for awhile without getting tired arms. This is also handy if you are doing some writing using the Surface Pen.

Again, everything seems to be at the right place and all buttons and the whole chassis is feeling very “high-class”.

Display and Audio

If you think you get any sacrifices on display quality or audio, you are wrong again. The Surface 3 comes with a stunning display, very bright and good color quality, in some scenario, the display even feels brighter than the Surface Pro 3. Now the biggest surprise of the device was the audio quality, this is maybe the best audio quality I every had from a tablet. If you have used other tablets including the iPad or Surface 2, you know that audio quality wasn’t bad, but it was far from being good. The Surface 3 has changed this, of course it is still not somethings music enthusiast will really use, but if you want to watch House of Cards on Netflix the speakers are loud and clear.

The other big pictures here is the Surface Pen support. As the Surface Pro 3, the Surface 3 does support the Surface Pen, not like the Surface 2. This is great to take notes using OneNote and use it as a notebook, especially if you wake up in the middle of the night and have a great idea you can use the Surface Pen and the OneNote button to quickly open an new OneNote page.

Ports and Internals

The Surface Pro 3 has full-size USB 3.0, microSDXC card slot, a Headset jack, a Mini DisplayPort and at the bottom a Cover port for the Type Cover. Of course also the older covers work perfectly, but they just don’t match in size. The position of the ports have changed a little bit from the Surface 2. The Surface 3 does also have a new power port in form of a micro USB port, instead of the magnetic power port of the Surface 2 or Surface Pro 3. This is great so you can use every charger, even the one from your phone. But to be honest you don’t really want to do this, because the charging speed using a phone charger is very slow. And on the other hand you lose the magnetic adapter safety feature.

Heat and Fan Noise

The Surface 3 comes equipped with Quad Core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor and I had never had any issues with heat or fan noise. To be honest, I am not even sure the Surface 3 has a fan. But on the other side, the workloads you are running on the Surface 3 are not even close as powerful as the applications you run on the Surface Pro 3.

Type Cover

Surface 3 Type Cover

The Surface 3 also comes with an own Type Cover in the right size. Microsoft also improved the Type Cover from the Type Cover 3 which you got with the Surface Pro 3, even you can not really see it directly. Especially the keys feel much better, which make it a perfect typing machine. I am sure with the next release of the Surface Pro comes out, the improvements in the Type Cover for the Surface 3 will be included in that as well.

Battery life and Performance

Surface 3 IE

I think this is the most important part for most of the people reading this review. First, the performance of the Surface 3 is a lot better than the performance of the Surface 2 and the same goes for battery life. But for the same the Surface Pro 3 performance is much better compare to the Surface 3. But this was clear right? The Surface 3 is designed as a tablet with light usage for office apps and some other apps as well, and the Surface 3 handles that just fine. The Surface Pro 3 is design as a powerful notebook replacement which is a total different story, so if you are looking on a powerful machine you should go with the Surface Pro 3, if you need something thin and light to use as a tablet and Office usage, you will definitely be happy with the Surface 3. As I mentioned I got the smallest version with only 2GB of RAM, and this is my real bottleneck if you are doing multitasking. So if you are expecting to do any real multitasking you should go for the 4GB version. The other performance bottleneck is the disk speed, this is a huge difference to the Surface Pro 3 as well, but to be honest for the things I use the Surface 3 for, I don’t really care.

Camera

Microsoft also upgraded the back-facing camera to a 8 megapixel camera which is even better than the Surface Pro 3. So you can do some simple but good shots with the tablet. But of course this never comes close to your Nokia Lumia.

Software and Accessories

Surface 3

Software is where everything comes together. Windows 8.1 works perfectly on the Surface 3 and I really like the mix between touch and keyboard usage. I use it as a tablet with touch apps and can run a full desktop applications like Office to get real work done. I really love the combination of different Microsoft Services such as Skype or Skype for Business for communication. But where the real power comes together is with OneDrive and OneNote. The new Surface Pen and OneNote are already a perfect combination. You can press the OneNote button on the Surface Pen and OneNote opens instantly and you can start taking notes, even if you are not logged. The notes from OneNote get sync via OneDrive on all your devices like your phone or desktop pc. Microsoft is not only bringing software services together, they are now also integrate hardware.

After the first 2 weeks I upgraded the Surface 3 to Windows 10, and I have to say the new tablet mode works perfectly, performance of the Surface 3 with Windows 10 is great.

Microsoft also offers a lot of different accessories like display or Ethernet adapters for the Surface Pro line and they will now also work with the Surface 3. You can use the same USB Ethernet Adapter or Mini Display Port adapter as for the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft also released a new docking station for the Surface 3, which helps you make the Surface 3 also a desktop replacement.

Conclusion

Well if you have to choose between the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 you really have to consider what the devices are designed for. The Surface Pro 3 can be the tablet which is your powerful laptop and desktop replacement. The Surface 3 is more your lightweight tablet which also can be your laptop if you only need it of light Office usage. So if size and weight matter to you, and you don’t need great performance you should go for the Surface 3. But if you need any performance you may want to go with the Surface Pro 3, even the i3 version has much more power than the Surface 3. Another thing here is, if you want to go with the Surface 3, I really recommend you to spend that extra money and go with the 4GB model.



Windows 10 Task View

The best Windows 10 Features – Why you will love Windows 10

Since the first release of the Windows 10 Preview in the Insider program, I was using the Technical previews on my Surface Pro 3, and it is great how Microsoft is improving Windows 10 over the last several months based on research and feedback from the Windows Insider program.

In some days, at July 29, Microsoft will release Windows 10 to the public, and here are some reasons why you will love Windows 10:

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge Browser

With Windows 10 Microsoft released a new browser called Microsoft Edge (before Project Spartan) which is amazing fast and brings a lot of new features to the table such as Cortana Integration, Web notes which allow you basically draw your notes on websites and share them and Microsoft also promised to allow browser extensions. Secret: you can also switch from a Light Theme to a Dark Theme.

Task View & Virtual Desktop

Windows 10 Task View

Most of the IT Pros reading this blog already knew about Task view in previous version of Windows using WIN + TAB, but only a few other users did know about this features. Microsoft not only improved the Task view, Microsoft also promoted it much better  with an icon in the Taskbar.

In Windows 10 WIN + TAB does not only offer you Task View it also allows you to create and switch between Virtual Desktops. With Virtual Desktops you can now finally create multiple workspaces on your PC, which should bring you the productivity boost you need. Secret: You can switch between different Desktops using the Shortcut: CTRL + WIN + ARROW (LEFT and RIGHT).

Hyper-V

Hyper-V vNext Runtime Memory Resize

Microsoft build Hyper-V directly into the Windows Client since Windows 8. This is great if you want to run Virtual Machines on your Windows Client. Windows 10 Client Hyper-V brings you the great performance and features Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V will bring you. Of course some features are only available in the server build of Hyper-V, but you get some great features such as Enhanced Session mode to copy & past between your PC and your Virtual Machine. Secret: Windows 10 will allow you to run Hyper-V and use Connected Standby at the same time.

(more…)



Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview App

Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview App for Windows 10

Yesterday Microsoft announced a new Remote Desktop Preview app for Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform (UWP) on the Remote Desktop Services Blog. You can get and download from the Windows Store. The new Remote Desktop Preview app has a connection center to manage your connections to Windows Clients and Windows Server. The connection center is your starting point. It allows you to easily manage your desktops. You can add new desktop connections and edit or delete existing connections. Selecting one of the desktop tiles launches the connection. It’s great to see Microsoft finally creating some great Apps for their own Universal Windows Platform.

Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview App Connection Center



Windows 10 IoT Web Performance

The Windows 10 IoT Core web interface

If you have successfully installed Windows 10 IoT Core on your IoT device, for exmaple the Raspberry Pi 2, you can browse the device using a web interface to get some more information. If you don’t know the IP address or name of your device you can use the Windows 10 IoT Core Watcher to find your device on the network.

One the web interface you have different kind of options:

Networking

Windows 10 IoT Web Networking

Performance Monitoring

Windows 10 IoT Web Performance

Processes

Windows 10 IoT Web processes

Device Manager

Windows 10 IoT Web Device Manager

AppX Manager

Windows 10 IoT Web AppX Manager

 

 



Windows 10 IoT Core on Raspberry Pi

Connect the Adafruit 5″ LCD to the Raspberry Pi 2 running Windows 10 IoT Core

First I had connected my TV as an external display for my Raspberry Pi 2 running Windows 10 IoT Core. Since I need the little device for some demos, and I want to take it with me I got a Adafruit 5″ LCD display to connected to the device.

The setup with the display is very easy and just plug and play. Just connect the display to the Raspberry Pi 2 board.

Raspberry Pi 2 LCD Display

But by default the output of the Raspberry Pi 2 is Full HD and so the display setting is kind of wrong. But you change this by editing the config.txt file from the SD card.

Windows 10 IoT Display Config

Just open the SD card and add the folloing lines to the config.txt file. (Source)

Windows 10 IoT Display Config TXT

Now you get the perfect outputfor the 800×480 display. If you want to change the settings while the SD card is in the device it self, you can use PowerShell. Remote connect to the Raspberry Pi 2 using Powershell and navigate to C:\EFIESP and check out the config.txt

You can now set the content of the config.txt file

To have the changes active you have to restart the Windows 10 IoT Core device

 



Windows 10 IoT PowerShell Cred

How to connect to Windows 10 IoT Core via PowerShell

After you have done the setup of your Raspberry Pi 2 with Windows 10 IoT Core you can now connected to the device via PowerShell.

Connect to the Windows 10 IoT device using PowerShell

First open up PowerShell and configure PowerShell remoting to allow your PC to remotely connect to your Raspberry Pi 2. You can use the name of your Raspberry Pi, which is “minwinpc” by default, or you can also using the IP address. You can also use the Windows 10 IoT Core Watcher which helps you find your devices on the network.

You can now open a new PowerShell Remote session by using the following command:

Windows 10 IoT PowerShell Cred

This will prompt you for credentials. The default password of your Pi is “p@ssw0rd

You can also store the credentials inside a variable, so you do not have to enter it all the time:

Windows 10 IoT PowerShell Remoting minwinpc

To create the connection this can take up to 30 seconds. After that you will see the remote session.

Using PowerShell on your Windows 10 IoT Core device

You can now use PowerShell to do some stuff on your Raspberry Pi with Windows 10 IoT Core. Some PowerShell commands are not build in to Windows 10 IoT Core but you can use some command line utilities.

Get all the process running:

Windows 10 IoT PowerShell Processes

Get network adapter configuration:

List the directories:

Rename your computer:

By renaming your device, you have to reconnect and may change your credentials.

Change the password of your administrator:

Shutdown your device

Windows 10 IoT PowerShell Shutdown

Reboot your device

Close your remote session

I hope this helps you to manage your Windows 10 IoT Core device via PowerShell.



Windows 10 IoT Core Watcher

Find your Windows 10 IoT Core device on the network

If you have done the setup of your Windows 10 IoT Core device you can see the name and the IP address on the default app using a HDMI output. If you don’t have a display connected to your device, Microsoft as a cool tool for you to find your device on the network.

When you download the Windows 10 IoT Core Image you also have a installer file called “WindowsDeveloperProgramForIoT.msi”. This installer installs you a tool called Windows 10 IoT Core Watcher, which will discover your Windows 10 IoT Core devices on the network.

You can also open some options directly from that tool:

Windows 10 IoT Core Watcher Access

This is needed for the next steps in this blog series. If you want to know more about Microsoft and Windows IoT check out my first blog post: Microsoft and the Internet of Things.