We all know that there has been a lot of hoopla and advertising that suggests that the Surface Pro 3, is a full laptop-replacement tablet. Having owned one now for several months, I have to agree that I no longer need a laptop and the Surface Pro 3 is, in fact, a perfect laptop replacement.
This being said, I have seen plenty of users struggle with their new device. So, below, I put together 10 tips for replacing your laptop with Surface Pro 3 that should make the transition easier.
This, in my opinion, is the most important thing. Many of us get taken in by the advertising and the “cool factor” of a new device but don’t fully consider the consequences. That, of course, often leads to buyers remorse. It is no different with a Surface Pro 3. Yes, it can replace your laptop but let’s not forget that the Surface Pro 3 is also a tablet. As such, it has a different form-factor, keyboard, and additional functionality you may not be used to. So, expect life to be different. This is especially true if you are transitioning from an Apple laptop. If you are married to your favorite Apple software, you will likely not get it on the Surface, so check your expectations. Acknowledge that it may take you a little time to learn your new device, especially if you’ve never used Windows 8.1 – it is a touch Operating System.
It’s like ripping off a band aid or pulling a tooth – just do it! We’re talking about a Windows device here – most of us are familiar with Windows devices – if you keep stalling and using your laptop along with you Surface Pro 3, you will always keep going back to what’s familiar – i.e. your laptop. Do NOT do that. If you do, you are not giving the Surface a fair trial and it may take you forever to switch or…never. Once you receive your new Surface Pro 3, I encourage you to set it up, copy your files, install your apps and go for it. Forget your old laptop.
Microsoft retail stores provide excellent teaching support. If you have one nearby, I highly recommend that you take advantage of it. They schedule classes, as well as, provide one-on-one instruction. I have a colleague that has used them heavily and is very, very happy. In addition, read through our site, use the SEARCH function – seriously, we have a ton of articles on how to do things; they will make your life easier. Also, visit Microsoft Community forum for help, as well as their online documentation. There is a wealth of information out there that can help you with your transition.
The Surface Pro 3 is a super mobile device. It is even more portable than a laptop and I assume that’s why you decided to buy it. With that comes potential for accidents, drops, water dunks, and other disasters, and the Surface Pro 3 is not exactly cheap – so I highly recommend that you buy the Microsoft Complete warranty for your device. Yes, I know it’s an additional $150 but it is soooo worth it if you drop and damage your Surface. I have personally used the warranty twice already on two different Surfaces and I can attest to how nice it is to just have a replacement handed to you at the Microsoft Retail store – no questions asked!
I recently wrote a Quick Tip on using a Microsoft Account on your Surface, see post Set Up Your New Surface: Microsoft Account. And as I said in other posts, you can use different types of accounts but do yourself a favor and take advantage of all of your new Surface’s features and Microsoft services by using it with a Microsoft Account. I mean, OneDrive works flawlessly, Skype auto logs in, your settings follow you to other devices – the Surface Pro 3 was simply designed to be used with one of these accounts.
VI. Replacing Your Laptop With Surface Pro 3: Protect your device
This is a biggie. Just like any other Windows device, you need to make sure you protect your Surface Pro 3 from Viruses and Malware, see post Do You Need Anti-virus Protection For Your Surface. So, install a good anti-virus software on your tablet and if you want to take it even a step further, use encryption on it, see post on encryption on Surface tablets. Always use an account with a password and, if you store sensitive information on your Surface, always make sure you encrypt that data .
Don’t be afraid to make the Surface Pro 3 your own. Set your own colors and background pictures. Customize the tiles on the Start menu. Set the sounds you want to hear. Consider configuring voice commands or whatever it is that you like, to make it feel like this is your Surface. I have seen users buy this expensive, $1500 device and then be afraid to touch the settings or modify them. Don’t be afraid, even if you mess up there is rarely a problem so big that you can’t fix it. Besides, playing with the settings will get you more comfortable with the device anyway – so do it!
First make sure that the software you absolutely have to have will run on the Surface Pro 3 – check the Microsoft Compatibly Center. Once you’ve verified that it will, install away but be mindful of the space you’re using up – it’s not hard to fill up the local drive on the Surface Pro 3, especially if you bought one of the 128Gb models. Also, keep in mind that the Surface Pro 3 does not come with MS Office pre-installed, while the Surface 2 does. So, if you’re an Office user, give Office 365 a try.
Remember that your Surface Pro 3 doesn’t automatically come with many cables, adapters and accessories. So, for example, if you’re planning on using it for lots of presentations, consider buying a Display Port to VGA adapter or if you’re setting up a home office, like I did, see post on My New Home Office, you may want to buy an external monitor, keyboard and mouse, and a docking station. See Tim’s post on Surface Accessories Buying Guide.
There is a reason why you chose to buy a Surface Pro 3, right? It’s usually because you wanted to be able to do something that you couldn’t do with your laptop. So, play around, learn something new and make it fun. I’ve been trying out drawing with my Surface – I suck but it’s still fun. You can do all kinds of cool things with this device, try sending a hand written email to someone or set up voice commands or whatever else sounds good to you. JUST HAVE FUN! It will make you appreciate your device and investment so much more.
Joanna is a former IT Director for a major public university, who gave up a high paying career to blog full time. She is proud to be a professional geek. Joanna loves all things technology and Surface tablets are her passion. She and Tim created LoveMySurface.net to help others be more productive using these awesome tablets.