Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 have converted many to hybrid computing, a cause which had previously struggled to gain much traction. With devices such as the Surface Pro 3 and Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga, however, it looks as though hybrids are finally starting to offer business users the best of both worlds, that is to say, the versatility of a tablet and the power of a clamshell laptop. Of course, straight from the box, the Microsoft Surface looks more like a tablet than anything else: it’s only when you add input devices and accessories that the Surface lives up to its full potential. In this post, we look at how, with the right Surface accessories, you can get significantly more from your investment.
Although not included with the device, the Surface Type Cover – or at least some sort of keyboard – is more or less essential if you’re planning to use your Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 for work. Microsoft’s own Type Cover attaches magnetically to the bottom of the device and supports a variety of shortcuts and touchpad gestures. Some users point out that the Surface Type Cover is relatively noisy and that it can become hot if used for long periods. With the release of the Surface Pro 4 very much on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how both points are addressed.
There are few complaints about the quality of the Surface tablet: the magnesium screen is light and supports a clear, HD display. The Surface Pen, which syncs smoothly with OneNote, has also attracted a good deal of praise. But problems can still arise if using the Surface’s touchscreen to edit Excel documents and other similarly detailed documents. This imprecision is easily remedied with some very traditional input device. A portable Bluetooth mouse can still offer a greater level of precision and accuracy than a touchscreen or trackpad, often speeding up and simplifying complicated tasks.
Microsoft’s Docking Station for Surface Pro and Surface 3 makes it possible for Surface owners to extend their workspace by connecting it to additional screens and other devices. As well as additional USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, the Docking Station also offers greater peace of mind in the shape of a security slot. This makes it easy to secure the Docking Station to a desk or workstation with a desktop or mobile lock, even if you still have to remember to take the Surface with you at the end of the day. Do be aware that when docked with the Surface Dock the Surface screen is inactive. To overcome this consider a video adapter or USB 3.0 docking station solution.
The Surface Pro 3 is frequently used as a BYOD device. Any device that’s used at the office and on the move is inevitably going to receive quite a bit of wear and tear. Chips and scratches are easily prevented with a Surface-specific screen protector; but this is unlikely to protect the device against more. A more rugged Surface case will protect the device against more serious accidents, which might happen at any time during the life cycle of a BYOD device. As well protecting against drops and scratches, it’s important to find a protective case that’s been designed specifically for the Surface, so that you can still access all the ports, use the kickstand and close the Type Cover without any problems.
For business users who more often than not use their Surface Pro 3 on the move, a softer carrying case may offer a convenient solution, protecting against knocks and bumps, as well as making the device easier to carry onto planes and so on. Larger backpacks and messenger bags will, of course, do much the same thing, albeit with room for additional accessories and documents. Even with a combination of accessories, any case is still likely to weigh considerably less than it would with a normal laptop. And, because of the power of the device, business users needn’t compromise on productivity.