Can a Surface Pro 3 (or any Windows 8 tablet) replace your laptop?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | May 26, 2014 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: Microsoft introduced its third generation Surface Pro as "the tablet that can replace your laptop." Really?

Ed Bott

Ed Bott




Eileen Brown

Eileen Brown

Best Argument: Yes


Audience Favored: Yes (72%)

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

Of course it can

If you've seen one tablet, you haven't seen them all.

That is the fundamental problem with most discussions of tablets and productivity, which start by assuming that tablet means iPad.

Apple's revolutionary and insanely popular device is an excellent example of one way to build a tablet. But it's not the only way. In fact, Apple's design stresses simplicity, which makes it great as a companion device but mediocre as a full-time productivity tool. You can add a Bluetooth keyboard, but all that does is let you type faster; it doesn't alter the fundamental operation of the device.

A tablet designed for Windows 8.1 takes a drastically different approach. With a keyboard and trackpad attached, this is a full-strength Windows PC, capable of running productivity software like the full version of Office and connecting to corporate networks. Detach the keyboard and you have a device that fits comfortably in the hand for browsing, watching movies, and doing light productivity tasks.

That "two in one" approach isn't for everyone. But the Surface Pro 3 (and similar devices like Dell's XPS 11 and the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro) make sense for business-focused buyers who want a single device in their carry-on bag.


Too soon for the enterprise

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 has arrived and it promises to deliver the “power, portability and productivity you need”. But while it might be useful for the casual user who wants an additional device for leisure purposes, the office hot desk warrior might struggle to embrace this form factor.

Knowledge workers that spend all day at their screens will want to add an external screen to aid their productivity and fast typists will find the optional touch or Type cover slows them down when writing and editing documents throughout the day.

Sure, the touch screen makes it easy to manipulate document and spreadsheets; but you will favour your external mouse over using the glide pad. Use it as a touch screen tablet to display photos, watch videos and browse the web. Use the pen – until you lose it – to write casual notes. But as a device to replace your souped-up laptop with its superfast games graphics card, multiple USB ports and decent sized keyboard? I don’t think so.

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  • For Work Purposes

    I think a Pro 3, or even a Pro 2 could replace my work laptop. I do not think it can replace my personal laptop. The big difference is that I play games on my personal laptop (an Alienware).
    Reply 121 Votes I'm for Yes
    • Already Has

      I had an original Surface Pro. It easily replaced my lap top. In fact the pen worked so well with OneNote it also replaced my 3 pound paper portfolio. The screen however was a little bit to small. I went next for a hybrid, 15" Sony Flip. It is a little bit to large. A 12" or 13" should be about right. I would never ever get a regular laptop again.
      Reply 98 Votes I'm Undecided
    • Absolutely Not!

      The Surface line (all versions), represents an abysmal value for the consumer.

      You're paying twice the going rate of a decent laptop, in order to be hamstrung by:

      * An awkward device
      * An kludgy and unnecessary kickstand
      * Limited RAM
      * Cooling fans on a wannabe tablet
      * The worst OS in history
      * Limited Storage (why is the 64-gig still around, when Windows takes up half of that?)
      * Paying extra for a hot pink keyboard that won't even last a couple months
      * Microsoft's hideous record with Surface firmware updates
      * Microsoft's hideous record making hardware (RROD anyone?... how about an XBox One?)
      * Hell... Microsoft's hideous record making software!

      MS needs to leave the hardware business to the professionals. Their niche is making crappy software.
      Reply 138 Votes I'm Undecided
      • LOL

        Did Steve Ballmer molest you as a child?
        Reply 151 Votes I'm Undecided
        • Actually, I think he is Steve Basllmer's love child

          or something like that..... :)
          Reply 82 Votes I'm Undecided
        • Ballmer's Play Boy?

          "Did Steve Ballmer molest you as a child?"


          Your reply is simply PRICELESS.
          Alfred Soyemi
          Reply 39 Votes I'm Undecided
      • If you don't care abuut weight and battery life ...

        ... then YES you can make price the issue. But, if you want to own both a PC and a tablet, you are paying the same total price for two devices instead of just one.
        M Wagner
        Reply 111 Votes I'm Undecided
        • @M Wagner

          Therein lies the rub, the Surface is a half-a$$ tablet, and an overpriced, wannabe laptop!

          In essence, the Surface represents the very worst of both worlds.

          For $2000 I could get a gaming laptop and a very nice tablet, or an ultrabook and a high end tablet, or a decent bargain laptop running Windows 7 (a much better OS), a cheap tablet, and pocket the other 1200 bucks... end of story.
          Reply 106 Votes I'm Undecided
          • Yet, with the Surface 3, you get a replacement for all the devices

            you mentioned, and you only have to carry the one device (Surface 3) around, while it would be very awkward and cumbersome and a pain in the neck, to carry all of those other devices you mentioned.

            Plus, you'd be getting the best OS every written for any device, that being Windows 8/8.1, no matter how biased you are against Windows 8 or anything from Microsoft.
            Reply 105 Votes I'm Undecided
          • Let's Not Get In A Conversation About Just How Bad Windows 8.x Is...

            Suffice it to say that the software counterfeit capital of the world, China, won't even touch it... that should tell you something right there!

            As far as the Surface replacing your laptop and tablet, dream on!

            Win 8 is just Windows NT with a gerryrigged, clumsy touch interface, that doesn't support ANY software written for touch, unless you want to try using touch with Windows programs written 10 to 15 years ago.

            Only small parts of Office support touch to this very day!

            So using Surface as a tablet is like putting skateboard wheels on a surfboard... good luck with that.

            As far as Surface replacing a laptop, I can't stop laughing long enough to respond to that.

            :0 )
            Reply 113 Votes I'm Undecided