Love My Surface Pro 2, Didn’t Dig the Surface Pro 3

This article was written by Justice Frangipane. He is the business and marketing director for TabletPCMouse –  software that allows you to add helpful features to your Surface, such as custom gestures and gaming controls.

Even though the Surface Pro 3 has been out for a while, I still love my Surface Pro 2. I do digital art, gaming, game creation, motion graphics and a variety of other processor heavy activities and have a lot of praise for this little machine. I typically jump on upgrades and updates as quickly as possible but I have been very hesitant on the Surface Pro 3 (and upcoming Surface Pro 4) for a few reasons.

Love My Surface Pro 2, Didn’t Dig the Surface Pro 3: The Pen

Most users will recognize very little functional difference between the digitizer (part of the screen that recognizes pen input) of the Surface Pro 2 and the Surface Pro 3. With the Surface Pro 2 being my seventh touch screen tablet, when I heard about the switch to N-Trig I was prepared for those changes.

The changes include:

  • The pen now needs a battery
  • It lags
  • It has lost degrees of pressure sensitivity
  • It can’t be calibrated
  • It no longer erases from the end
  • And, finally, the side buttons can’t be programmed to obey my every whim

But, when it comes down to it, it’s really the pen lag and the lack of side button programming that keeps me from being “OK” with the change.

For accuracy, which I’m sure will spur wild debates in the comments section, I find that the Wacom digitizer is better. To be fair, there are options for adjusting the alignment and the corner alignment issues don’t bother me.

Love My Surface Pro 2, Didn’t Dig the Surface Pro 3: Pen Lag

Side note: As a gamer, the biggest turn off when playing a game is lag. If your game is lagging, you might as well throw in the towel – it is over.  You’re likely not going to win, and even if you do, it’ll be a chore to get there.

The same goes for artwork. If I’m trying to draw and there is any lag, it ruins the experience for me. Thankfully, that’s not a problem with the Surface Pro 2. However, every Surface Pro 3 I’ve used drags in Photoshop like I’m drawing in the mud.

Yes, you can use other programs, but, you shouldn’t have to. I’ve heard rumors of a “fix” but have not yet experienced it. If you are familiar with this specific issue and can comment, please do so below as things may have changed since my last use.

Love my Surface Pro 2, Didn’t Dig the Surface Pro 3: Pen Battery and Buttons

The reason I prefer Windows over Mac is that I am allowed to do whatever I want to on a PC. I feel Mac/Apple products are built with as many blocks and restrictions as possible to keep people from customizing/breaking them. This of course aids in abating problems, but also restricts unique functions – ones I love – like my side button mapping.

As an artist I set the side button on my pen to “ctrl – z”. This allows me to seamlessly “do and undo” my line work while I’m drawing. It’s an extreme time saver. For the life of me I can’t figure out why Microsoft hasn’t opened up the ability to set functions to the side buttons yet.

Love My Surface Pro 2, Didn’t Dig the Surface Pro 3: Gaming

I was hoping to find that the gaming performance had jumped significantly from the Surface Pro 2 to the Surface Pro 3. I have only seen the opposite confirmed over and again.

There is a noticeable FPS drop from the i5 4300u found in the SP2, to the i7-4650U in the Surface Pro 3. I can run a decent array of games on my Surface Pro 2 on low settings at acceptable frame rates (25 to 40 fps). With the SP3 there is a typical drop in performance of 3-5 FPS.

As a gamer, I would cry my eyes out if I had dished out the money for a new Surface Pro 3 i7 model, only to have it perform worse than my Surface Pro 2. (Relating to gaming FPS, this type of crying is still considered manly according to the “bro code” article ty357-1a).

Love My Surface Pro 2, Didn’t Dig the Surface Pro 3: Surface Pro 4

While I love my Surface Pro 2, I have hopes the Surface Pro 4 will be worth the upgrade. However, if it doesn’t measure up, I’ll still be sticking with my Surface Pro 2 which continues to work just fine for me.

So, I’m waiting to hear the results of the reviews and tests when the Surface Pro 4 becomes available, I’m hoping that a Skylake processor (with IRIS graphics), LTE, and increased functionality of the Ntrig digitizer (or possibly a redesigned pen) will accompany the announcement.

If it does, then I’ll have to seriously consider upgrading from the Surface Pro 2 to the Surface Pro 4.

As for now, I found a power cover type 2 keyboard on Amazon for my Surface Pro 2 that doubles my battery life and cost half as much as the standard Type Cover, so I’m sticking with my Surface Pro 2.


Kent Beck

Kent Beck link to his wiki

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