Hands on: Surface Pro 3 vs MacBook Air

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USA TODAY’s Ed Baig takes a look at the Surface Pro 3 vs MacBook Air.
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41 thoughts on “Hands on: Surface Pro 3 vs MacBook Air


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    I have been using PRO 3 for about 6 months and I had to return first one because of a yellow line on the screen.
    I find using pen is not very convenient because of a dotted trail that the pen is leaving during drawing. I would say that using PRO 3 has been a positive experience; however, the tablet's limited connectivity could be a serious source of frustration to some. Also, fixing this gadget won't be easy in case it breaks.

    Zachary Franks

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    All of you guys bitching about what company is superior is such a waste of time. NO one gives a shit what any of you think. It's a personal preference what people buy. I'm not going to get on YouTube look up a product review and base my purchase off some jack ass who's just saying "Apple sucks by Pc." Vice versa. You guys are so damn annoying!


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Definitely the SP3 is best! 😍

    John Ashley

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Про зарядку нихуя ничего не сказано!


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    You can certainly install a desktop program on a tablet PC, but trying to use it is not all that easy.  The desktop program works best with the biggest monitor possible to make room for all of it's toolbars and palettes.  Very few desktop programs so far have bothered to take tablets into consideration and make special optional tablet interfaces.  I know of 2.  I use one of them on my tablet PC.


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Why do we need a touchscreen on an notebook/ultrabooks? I don't think it's a step in the right direction… Just saying but I still like the surface pro 3


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    There is one piece of the puzzle the gentleman left out however, the MacBook can dual-boot to run Windows, fully supported, drivers etc. the macbook air is one of the fastest Windows laptops out there (yes I said windows laptop), and or use windows in a window on MacOS. so while for some it might not matter, for others it’s everything. It’s getting two computers for the price of one really. 

    Victor Mason

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    there were rumors years ago about a touch screen imac.  then, about a touch screen macbook pro. i draw and design.  of course i switched to microsoft as apple is just not moving along with new tech.  i am not the only one.  bye apple.  


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    PC sucks


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    How is this possible, a tablet beating a laptop, surprise Microsoft did it!!! whatever you like or not… I use Windows 8.1 and it's the best, just need more metro apps. SP3 100%!!!

    Simon Stewart

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    When you suggested that touch is even close to a feature on the MBA, my viewing came to an abrupt halt. 


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Strange to not include the screens to the comparison, for me that is a big deal if not one of the most important things. If you would compare those you would find out that the extreme high pixel density IPS panel with of course the touch functionality is much better than the 900p TN panel from the mba I believe.

    Dont get me wrong, I'm not an microsoft fan boy or apple hater or anything. It's just that the screen is such a big part of the notebook or tablet that in my opinion you should bring attention to it.

    Eddie Mancinas

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    These are all stupid comparisons. The only reason these two products are even in the same discussion is because Microsoft compared the two. These are two completely different products. One is a traditional laptop, while the other is a hybrid. There are people on here talking about how the Macbook Air doesn't have a pen and touch capability…well, no shit. It's a laptop. Keep in mind Microsoft built this product to compete with the Macbook Air. Not the other way around. Don't forget you can dual boot Mac's, which allows any user to run Windows 8.1. Then there are those who claim that Apple products are too expensive.

    Let's see:

    Surface pro 3 Price (base model):

    $799 with 64gb, resolution 2160×1440, 4gb of ram, and intels i3 processor clocked at 1.5ghz. Let's not forget the keyboard which is an additional $130! Keep in mind, I'm adding the price of the keyboard only because Microsoft is competing with a laptop with a real keyboard and track pad. And, they claim their keyboard and track pad is better than that of the Macbook Air's. All in all total price $929!

    Macbook Pro 13"/w Retina display (base model):

    That's right! I said Macbook Pro and here's why.

    13-inch with Retina display 2560×1600, 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz, 8GB 1600MHz memory, and 128GB PCIe-based flash storage. $1299!

    You'd be a damn fool to buy a base model Surface pro 3 at $929 with the specifications listed above. The next model up which includes 128gb of storage, starts at $999 plus $130 for the keyboard comes out to $1129 dollars! For $170 dollars more, you can buy a computer with a bigger screen, better resolution, better processor, dual boot capability if you really need Windows, more ports including hdmi and thunderbolt…I mean I can go on. If Microsoft wants to call out a laptop built by one of the best companies in the world…well, they better build one that's cheaper and better because I don't buy into this bullshit propaganda. Besides, no one likes Windows 8. Shit is garbage. I only run Windows on my Mac pro to run certain games. So, how is this Hybrid of a pc/tablet even remotely better than Macbook. Get real. This thing will fail, just like its predecessors.

    Brent Cole

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    When you make a video in public you might want to first make sure the people in the background are OK with being in your video and aren't awkwardly looking at the camera the entire time.


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Lets compare the SP3 display with the MBA.
    2160×1440 vs 1440×900
    Clear Type IPS vs TN panel (yeap, they use those kinds of display)
    Viewing angles:
    80 degrees vs 40 degrees
    Contrast ration: 945 vs 786 (yeah, MBA's screen is that bad)
    Saturation accuracy: 2.79 vs 5.36 (ahahah, SP3 is very closer to 2.5 and MBA's is higher than 5!!! yeah MBA's screen is a deal breaker for anyone in 2014)


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    No offense, but no one can make a good comparison video. You really have to watch multiple of them to actually make a choice. He made  a couple of mistakes. One of them was saying the mac book has more storage. That actually depends on the model of the Surface Pro you get.The common one is the 128GB SSD (Solid State Drive) version with 4 GB of ram. I have seen comparison videos where the Mac Book was like 1 second faster on start up when there the same price. Yeah they are not putting all of there money into the processing unit and other parts when touch screen is a big part of the device on the surface. Now obviously the a touchscreen screen is probably double the price of a normal screen so, plus the surface comes with a pen. You don't really have to have the keyboard for the surface since you should be able to type with an on screen keyboard which I haven't seen anyone show in any video which is kinda sad!

    Γιάννης Μόρφος

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    I really enjoyed this comparison. I don't understand the hate that the thumbs downs show …well I do but I don't at the same time. The interviewer was very honest and said everything he had to say. He didn't even pick one of the two as "a best buy" and left the viewer decide after knowing the full information. Thumbs up from me. I don't own the air, nor do I the pro3. I, though, would stick with the air if i needed a laptop. The features on the pro3 might be on the air's level but I just don't need them. This shows that personal preference is always the biggest factor that makes up the choice. I hope this helps people who are about to buy one of those two equally (for me) awesome pieces of engineering!

    Bryce Ramgovind

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    I'm sorry Mac OS is a dumbed down version of Windows. It is unnesscaryily simplified. The Surface is beautiful machinery.

    Benny Rodriguez

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    I just feel like microsoft is still lost with this machine. When they first came out they were all about the tablets and competing against the tablets in the market those days. More vs the ipad since it runs the market. Then it couldn't sell well and they came out with a new surface 6 months later to compete against another apple product which is the macbook air (which is not even close to being a tablet). Based on sales, maybe there just isn't a big hardcore fan base for a hybrid tablet/laptop. Cool idea but just don't understand their direction.

    KG ajjahn hutchinson-baldwin

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Apple products do not allow you to get extra storage, most of the time. Unless that has changed. Hmmm…

    Alex Chambers

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    * see dislike like/dislike ratio *
    * waits for obvious bias to close tab *

    Cesareo Contreras

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    The type cover was backlit on last year's model as well.

    Praveen Elango

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Surface Pro 3 is a great product.But they ruined it with awful pricing.

    joe filar

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Got the surface pro 2 and it has replaced my mac air, no doubt the pro 3 is better and would tell most of you you ain't going to miss your mac if you get the surface pro 3. Touch screen is a must have the mac feels old and no its not comparable to using the touch pad on the mac, its better to touch the screen for me at least. Please don't think the Mac is better, my pro 2 boots in a instant and chargers fast so yes in don't last as long but it chargers a lot faster. Again these hybrids are great for tablet mode when sitting on the couch.


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    I don't see why I would ever need a touch screen on a Mac. I find using the trackpad to be as good as using my iPads touch screen after having it for so long. But to each his own


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    was he a character in the serie "Weeds"?

    Alex Wohlbruck

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    I don't understand what's wrong with the keyboard? It's the same as the Mac but you can take it off.

    Wyatt Sattazahn

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    You also have to buy Microsoft office, because it isn't include with the device!!


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    MAC guy,
    You didn't mention that the display on SP3 is almost Retina which is a lot better than the display of MBA.
    Also why you didn't mention when adding a keyboard to the SP3 that you have to add an IPad to MBA to make it have all from SP3 and the IPad is about $500. Even if you add the Docking Station to SP3 it is going to be cheaper than MBA. 

    Albert Schmidt

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Sadly the Surface 3 is still a tablet, I would rather go for the cheaper MacBook Air

    B R

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    How can you compare these two and not mention screen resolution? 


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Dear Dumb Person,

    Stop comparing the Surface Pro to the MB Air. Does the SP3 look like an Air to you? Do they share design commonalities? Do they even use the same operating system? No. Go think about your job and get another Windows-based convertible for your comparison, then start over.

    Satyaki Chakraborty

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    yes and you forgot to mention gaming! It's surface pro 3 all the way B|


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    The surface pro 3 is what i chose.

    Jose Galvan

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    The Microsoft Surface is not a laptop.  It's a tablet.  In a pinch, yes you can put it in your lap and squeeze out some work.  But mostly you're gonna be using it as a tablet to watch videos, listen to music, surf the web, check emails, engage in social networking, etc.  I have a 64 gb Surface RT with a bunch of apps on it.  I have a separate profile for my toddler because he loves to play games on it.  I download a bunch of videos from bit torrent sites, and albums.  And I have well over 20gb of free space still available on it.  I did purchase the Type Cover 2 for my Surface, but mostly use it as a smart cover just to protect the screen when I'm not using the tablet.  It mostly stays flipped back behind the tablet, or completely detached.  I never use the keyboard.  You don't need one.  Everyone that says that you have to buy the keyboard for for the Surface for the complete experience has no idea what they are talking about.  You will almost never use it.  It's a great media consumption device.  It pulls files from network shares.  I haven't even had the need for the Micro SD card slot yet just because I grab stuff from my network and transfer it over, then delete it when I'm done using it.  I'm a college student and I keep all my text books on my Surface as eBooks and PDFs.  I do all of my reading on the Surface.  I take all of my classes on the Surface.  When I have to type papers, I prefer to sit at my desk in my office at home on the desktop.  I could type a paper on the Surface if I wanted to, or any of the other laptops I have in my house.  But that's just my personal preference.  If I was at school and had to type something, of course I could very easily and confidently bang it out on the Surface.  I'm not gonna carry around a laptop.  A lot of people, especially students, and people that use bit torrents, would much rather carry around a single device like the Surface that is super light weight, will get you 7-10 hours of battery life, has USB, HDMI out, can print to almost anything with the greatest of ease, and can keep you occupied with apps for Instagram, Vine, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or games.  The Surface really can get a whole lot done for you that you can't do on an iPad, and also things that you can't do on a laptop.  It truly is the best of both worlds.  But don't be naive.  Know your technology.  It is a tablet.  It is not a laptop.  But it is by far, the most versatile and useful single device on the market.  The lack of apps is no fault of the device itself.  Apps can be written.  And there are so many great apps available now that weren't available when it was introduced.  And many more will continue come.  The device itself is incredible.  The iPad is not so much an incredible device, but it has a mature ecosystem with incredible apps.  But pound for pound, device for device, Microsoft's Surface is the man. 

    Jason Disbrow

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    The issue I'm seeing though is the glare on the Surface compared to the mac, but I guess that's a trade-off for having the touch screen and I'm assuming there's an anti-glare screen protector out there somewhere.  

    Also I fear Microsoft over priced this especially by not including the keyboard most people are going to view this as a tablet and compare it to the $500 ipad instead of the Macbook Air.  If not including the touch cover with the price, I think MS should at least including a Office 2013 or a few years of Office 365 to make it more attractive.  But I already have that so it wouldn't be an incentive for me.  I'd be a buyer if the touch pad was included if not the base model at least include it in one of the higher tier models 


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    What happened to the black guy?

    Barış Palabıyık

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    no mention of resolution and battery life.. imo surface pro 3 all the way 


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    For me the only thing that really lets the Surface down is the operating system.


    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    Thank you sir, solid review

    Ismail Mazlan

    (February 11, 2019 - 10:19 am)

    the apps on SP3 is big deal.great jobs micrsoft.

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