Members of Reddit peppered Microsoft's Surface Team about its newly announced Surface Pro 3 tablet, including complaints about having to pay for the keyboard/cover separately.
The price of the tablet starts at $799, but that’s without a $130 keyboard, and questioners seemed ticked off about that since Microsoft advertising depicts the device as a laptop replacement – which pretty much requires the keyboard.
+ Also on Network World: FIRST LOOK: Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet/PC +
The Surface Team response: “When we first launched Surface, we sold it only in a bundle format. the top feedback we got was that people loved the color covers and wanted full choice (but stores wouldn't sell all color bundles) and some people definitely wanted to buy without cover.”
But the cost and the impression Microsoft gives via its advertising still rankles some. “130 bucks for a keyboard?” says Redittor Peter Venkman. “I realize it's also a cover and state of the art, etc. But it's literally in every ad and presentation...as if it comes with it.”
The team says it is looking into a problem right-handed users report when drawing or taking notes with the tablet: the edge of their hands resting on the device triggers the Home button at the edge of the display, bringing the users to the Start screen. “Heard some feedback on people pressing by mistake. We are definitely looking into it,” is Microsoft’s response.
Battery life is also a concern since the battery is integrated in the machine and can’t be replaced by users. Microsoft charges $200 do it.
More than one questioner asked how long the integrated, non-replaceable battery in Surface Pro 3 would last before dying. The answer from Microsoft is that it can be charged five days a week for more than 4.5 years while maintaining 80% capacity. That’s about 1,170 days of recharging to 80% capacity. The battery charges fully in 4 hours, and battery performance is the same regardless of whether the Surface Pro 3 model runs a Core i3, i5 or i7 processor. That’s about 9 hours of Web surfing.
There are no plans for cellular support on the device, Microsoft says. But the Surface Team perhaps hinted that it might make an external graphics processing unit in order to make Surface Pro 3 a better gaming machine. In response to a suggestion from NotCassim that Microsoft make such an add-on, the team responded, “Hey NotCassim, love the suggestion! Keep them coming please. :)”
The Surface group says that any Surface keyboard/cover is compatible with Surface Pro 3, including the Power Cover, which contains its own battery to extend the time the device can be used unplugged. The older covers for earlier Surface models are narrower than the full width of Surface Pro 3, but they still function, Microsoft says.
The team gave out details on the support Surface Pro 3 has for daisy-chaining displays off the device. The type and number of displays depends on the processor running in the particular Surface Pro 3. So Intel Core i7 and i5 will drive one 4K display or two 2K external displays while still supporting the 2K display on the Surface Pro itself. A Core i3 Surface Pro will drive 4K external display or two HD displays while supporting the Surface Pro 2K display, Microsoft says.
One questioner wondered whether the lack of an announcement about a next-generation Surface based running Windows RT powered by an ARM processor meant an end to Microsoft-built Windows RT tablets. The response was that the latest Microsoft ARM tablet, Surface 2, was an improvement over the initial Surface RT, but it didn’t address whether there would be a follow-on device to Surface 2. “Windows on ARM continues to be an important part of the Windows strategy,” is what Microsoft has to say about that.
Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.