Windows 10 is net uitgekomen en er is nog maar mondjesmaat hardware beschikbaar. Maar daardoor is het misschien het uitgelezen moment om eens te kijken naar machines met Windows 8.1 die nu in de uitverkoop gaan verschijnen, die je dan natuurlijk kunt upgraden naar Windows 10. Ik heb 6 van de populairste 13-inch laptops onderworpen aan mijn 'kan ik er echt mee leven en werken'-test. En hier volgen de resultaten.
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All six machines that ran my gauntlet of usability, performance, and battery tests -- the Acer Aspire R13, the Asus ZenBook 13, the Dell XPS 13, the HP EliteBook Pro 1020, the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, and Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 -- have unique advantages. A few are classic clamshells. A few are contortionists suited to both laptop and tablet duty. One, the Surface Pro 3, is a slate with a strap-on keyboard and laptop aspirations.
After giving them all a first-class workout with Windows 8.1, I upgraded them to Windows 10, using a standard in-place installation. That's the same installation method you would use right now with the "Get Windows 10" notices you've no doubt seen. In every case, the upgrade to Windows 10 went smoothly.
What differentiates these best-of-breed machines? More than anything, besides price, it's the form factor. Ultimately, that is a very personal choice.
If you're going to use the laptop as a desktop adjunct or replacement -- or if you're going to haul it off to meetings and you don't anticipate using it in contortionist positions, like on an airplane -- you may prefer a traditional clamshell. (I do.)
If you want a clamshell and money is no object, the Dell XPS 13 is the machine to beat. Its gorgeous screen and excellent performance belie its tiny size, though there are still shortcomings. For a couple hundred bucks more, the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 isn't as small, and its screen doesn't have as many pixels, but it's sleek, the keyboard is less cramped, and the battery lasts longer.
For a price-conscious thin clamshell, the Asus ZenBook 13 takes the cake -- but at the lower price range it doesn't have a touchscreen.
We cover three more form factors in this review. The trapeze on the Acer Aspire R13 comes in very handy if you're going to use the machine while standing or try working from odd angles. The Lenovo Yoga Pro 3's foldback hinge may be exactly what you need if you're constantly moving back and forth between a tablet and a keyboard. Finally, Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, deservedly a legend, is the ideal choice for the person who wants a tablet with laptop power under the hood.
Acer Aspire R13
At $1,300 (add $50 for the well-designed Acer Active Stylus) the Aspire R13 tips the top of the price scale, but it packs a lot of capability into an energetic frame. At first I was put off by the trapeze design, until I discovered a real forte: This may be the best Windows laptop yet for a standing desk. The ability to move the bottom of the screen to almost any position -- even if it slightly overlaps the number keys -- makes it a joy to use when you're standing up. The trapeze mechanism proved solid and predictable. I had no problem poking the touchscreen, even when it was tilted askew.
Acer Aspire R13
On the downside, I found it hard to open the machine. Prying the screen apart from the laptop is a job for smaller fingers than mine. Also, a thick bezel -- more than an inch of black across the bottom of the screen, and half an inch at the top and sides -- makes the whole package bigger than it might otherwise be (13.5 by 9.1 by 0.71 inches). And oddly for a laptop with a slate persona, there's no hardware Windows button.
With an Intel Core i7-5500U "Broadwell" CPU under the hood, the Aspire R13 has serious processing power -- and the fan noise to go with it. The R13 turned noticeably hot during my stress test (downloading and installing all 100 or so Windows 8.1 patches back to back), and the fan complained. But my test unit, which came with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, swam through typical office work, including large spreadsheets, complex documents, and light photo editing. It's a fast and responsive machine.
The 13.3-inch, 2,560-by-1,440 screen shows remarkably little glare, but the color depth didn't impress me. The second trailer for "Star Wars VII" appeared a bit washed out, but it got better when I turned off the automatic screen brightness setting in Windows 8.1 (Settings > PC and devices > Power and sleep) and adjusted the brightness manually. The screen is quite responsive to touch, with pinches and multifinger gestures working well.
In my usual battery stress test (no Wi-Fi, no sound, 70 percent brightness, running a continuous loop of the wildlife.wmv file from Windows 7 on Windows Media Player) the battery ran out in 6.5 hours, which is quite respectable given the high screen resolution.
The keyboard is typical Chiclet style, backlit, with a not very comfortable 1.1mm throw, although it rests on a very stable base. The key layout is a bit odd, with the tilde next to a half-wide Caps Lock, a half-wide Esc key, and the PgUp/PgDn keys packed in next to the arrow keys. Fast typists may have trouble adapting.
The large, 4.1-by-2.3-inch touchpad worked very well, with right-clicks reliably recognized (a boon for the Win 8.1 Start button) and gestures quickly reflected on the screen.
Acer has its own software for the pen, which you can set to trigger the launching of various apps, including OneNote. I'm not an artist, but a friend complained that the pen didn't respond with the sensitivity she expected. I found it fine for normal business use.
Unfortunately, the power brick's barrel connector nearly fits into the headphone jack, as is so often the case with this kind of charger, leaving me playing a game of power whack-a-mole. There's no "charging" light near the power jack or the power brick. To verify that the machine is charging, you have to look under the pry lip in front.
The Windows 10 upgrade proved a bit dicey. Although the "Your upgrade is ready" notification appeared a few days after registering for the upgrade, running the installation resulted in a "Windows Update ran into a problem" notice and error 80010108, common for Win10 installs. I clicked the Restart button in Windows Update, and the machine went through a lengthy shutdown, finally emerging with Windows 10 fully installed.
Verdict: The Acer Aspire R13 is a very capable machine that's particularly good for those who like to stand and poke.
Asus ZenBook 13
Slim, light, capable, and $700 cheap, the Asus ZenBook 13 UX305 is a traditional kind of Ultrabook for a traditional keyboard-and-trackpad kind of customer -- like me. If you're looking for touch, superhigh resolution, calisthenics, or screaming performance on the latest games, you're looking in the wrong direction. (That said, a more expensive, touchscreen ZenBook is coming.)
Asus ZenBook 13
If you want something that looks as good as a MacBook Air, with a battery that keeps chugging along, no fan, and 256GB of fast, solid-state storage and you're willing to pay only $700 -- keep reading.
My first impression on unboxing the ZenBook 13: Somebody must have goofed and stuck a blackish MacBook Air in the Asus box. The all-aluminum case is flawless. At 12.7 by 8.9 by 0.5 inches, it's downright small (although not as tiny as the Dell XPS 13). Running 2.6 pounds total, it's a featherweight. Pull the ZenBook out of the box and it looks -- and feels -- like a masterfully constructed Ultrabook. You know, the way it's supposed to be.
The ZenBook 13 UX305 uses an Intel Core M-5Y10C chip. There's no fan -- indeed, no moving parts at all, so it works away in silence. When I hit it with my stress test (downloading and installing about 100 Windows 8.1 patches back-to-back), the base became quite warm on my lap, with additional warming noticeable on the top of the base, above the keys.
The unit I tested has 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, pre-partitioned into 15GB for a Recovery partition, 95GB for the C: drive, and, oddly, 128GB for a D: drive.
In real-world use, the ZenBook 13 took sizable spreadsheets and documents in stride, with no noticeable slowdowns. AnandTech ran dozens of benchmarks on the machine, which generally placed its performance on par with that of the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, behind the Dell XPS 13's, and ahead of Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. Of course, there are many nuances.
The 13.3-inch screen runs "only" 1,920 by 1,080. While the other screens in this roundup ran at higher resolution, the difference for work-related activities is hardly noticeable. (Movie clips are another story, of course.) Remarkably, I saw no glare at all. Acer has a utility called Splendid Utility that does make it fairly easy to adjust color.
The Chiclet-style keyboard has a very good feel, with a decent 1.5mm throw. The layout is great, too, except that Asus packed the small power button, the equally small Delete key, and the doublewide Backspace key all together in the upper-right corner. Several times I hit Backspace, only to discover that I'd actually turned off the machine. The keyboard is not backlit.
The 4.1-by-2.9-inch touchpad readily understood my tapping, right-clicking, pinching, and scrolling, with excellent feedback. The down-facing speakers had trouble pumping out enough volume, though, and they are distinctly shrill. Plan on carrying headphones or at least earbuds.
The ZenBook excelled at my battery stress test, lasting 9 hours. That makes the ZenBook 13 the longest-lived computer in this roundup, by a considerable margin. Clearly, the power-sipping CPU and lower-resolution screen go a long way.
Like the Acer Aspire, the ZenBook's power cube has a barrel connector that nearly fits the headphone jack. Unlike the Aspire, the ZenBook has a "charging" light to confirm that the power cord is actually connected. Wi-Fi runs 802.11n but not 802.11ac.
The Windows 10 upgrade ran slower on the ZenBook than on any other computer in this bunch. Even after waiting a week for the "Your upgrade is ready" notification, I performed a manual upgrade using the Windows Media Creation Tool. The upgrade went through without a problem.
If you're looking for a traditional clamshell with considerable power, a beautiful design, a decent screen, and long battery life, and if money's a primary consideration, the Asus ZenBook 13 is a heck of a deal.
Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 is arguably the best 13-inch clamshell on the market and inarguably the smallest. How has Dell managed to shoehorn a 13.3-inch screen into a package that's about the size of most 11-inch netbooks? Open the case, and you'll discover that, where every other laptop in this class has a 1-inch bezel around the sides and top of the screen, the XPS 13 runs about 0.2 inch. That lets Dell squeeze the size of this little guy down to 12 by 7.9 by 0.6 inches, tapering to a mere 0.33 inch. That's nearly the same as an 11-inch MacBook Air, which measures 11.8 by 7.6 by 0.7 and tapers to 0.1 inch.
Dell XPS 13
Unfortunately, there's a downside to the bezel-less engineering. Dell doesn't have a place to put the webcam up at the top, so it sits down on the lower left of the screen. Thus your mug shot in video calls emphasizes your wattle, not your receding hairline. Combine that angle with lighting from below, and you'll scare off anyone who dares to call. Come to think of it, maybe it's a feature.
While you can get an XPS 13 for as little as $800 (Intel Core i3, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, nontouch 1,920 by 1,080), I took the high road with a considerably faster and glitzier machine. It starts with a fast Intel Core i5-5200U "Broadwell" processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, and adds what may be the best 13-inch screen in the business, a 3,200-by-1,800 panel known as an Infinity Display.
But at what cost? Ramping up to the IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) Infinity Display not only raises the price to $1,400, but also takes several hours off the battery life when used continuously. On the upside, the extra oomph doesn't change the size or the weight of the machine one iota.
Befitting its horsepower, the XPS 13 has a fan. During my stress test (the gauntlet of Windows 8.1 updates) I could hear a subtle but distinct whoosh. The whole unit barely registered warm.
The XPS 13 chewed through normal office work, proving very fast and responsive even on big spreadsheets. AnandTech ran dozens of performance benchmarks with results that, in broad strokes, placed the XPS 13 QHD+ somewhat faster than both the Asus ZenBook 13 and the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, and considerably quicker than Microsoft's Surface Pro 3.
Permit me to rhapsodize about the screen for a minute. I can throw around numbers: 276 pixels per inch, ahead of Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina's 227 and my beloved 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina's 220. Its brightness of 400 nits compares favorably to the 13-inch MacBook Pro's 389.
But the numbers don't tell the whole story. The screen rocks. The edge-to-edge coverage is striking. Playing HD trailers for this summer's movies blew me away: The blacks were deep, colors vibrant, flesh tones spot-on, without a whisper of stutter, even in the most action-packed sequences and transitions. The tiny bezel helps the screen stand out. There's a very wide viewing angle. I did see a little glare, an unfortunate side effect of the eye-zapping experience. But the display is in a class of its own.
Of course, what you gain in display you lose in battery life. The XPS 13 came through my battery test at 6 hours. That's remarkable for a screen this adept, but it's still a full 3 hours behind the ZenBook 13, with its much more pedestrian 1,920-by-1,080 display.
The keyboard is good, though it suffers from a short 1.2mm throw, which makes it hard for fast typists to use for an extended period of time. As you might imagine, the keyboard is a good half-inch narrower than other keyboards in this review, and that puts a crimp on big fingers. Unlike the ZenBook 13, though, all the keys are in locations you would expect, and the power switch sits out of harm's way in the upper-right corner.
The 4.1-by-2.3-inch touchpad is a marvel. I had no problem with pinches, zooms, two finger swipes, and the usual left- and right-click zones. The touchpad uses the standard Microsoft Precision (read: Surface) driver, which bodes well for the future. Windows 10 will bring more capabilities to the Precision driver, along with integrated control in the Windows 10 Settings app, and the XPS 13 should come along for the ride.
The speakers fire to the side, and churn out reasonable volume and bass. They produce much better sound than down-firing speakers.
The XPS 13 (like all modern Dells) has a light in the jack that indicates power; there's also a wide "charging" light in front. The left side has a simple power meter. Push the recessed button and you see one to four lights, which tell you how much power is left.
Upgrading to Windows 10 went well, although the traditional "Your upgrade is ready" notification never appeared. Instead, after reserving the upgrade, I had to venture to Windows Update to complete the task.
Apart from a panoply of crapware and the low-mounted webcam, the XPS 13 was nigh flawless. This machine should be at the top of your list, if you can afford it. Pro tip: You can always uninstall the unwanted programs and stick duct tape over the camera.
HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1
It ain't cheap, but if you want a MacBook Air Retina in Windows clothing, this is it. The EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 ("generation 1") sports an aluminum/magnesium-alloy case with a carbon fiber base that rivals the MacBook Air in look and feel, weighs less than 2.7 pounds, runs 0.62 inch thick, and packs all the ports you would reasonably want in a traditional clamshell. It's rugged, to U.S. military (MIL-STD 810G) spec -- built to take a four-foot drop.
HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1
While the Folio 1020 G1 isn't quite as tiny as the Dell XPS 13, measuring 12.2 by 8.3 inches to the Dell's 12 by 7.9 inches, the look and feel of the EliteBook can't be beat on the Windows side of the street.
The unit I tested includes a capable but not particularly noteworthy Core M-5Y71 "Broadwell" processor, 8GB of memory, a 256GB SSD, and a tremendous 12.5-inch, 2,560-by-1,440 touch display. It offers surprisingly good battery life and ... no fan. There's also a Near Field Communication chip (want to swipe your EliteBook to pay at Starbucks?), a fingerprint reader that works with Windows 10's Hello, and everything you need for corporate installations, including a Trusted Platform Module and compatibility with an array of HP security and manageability systems. List price is $1,649.
Bonus points: You can actually get into the machine and swap out the battery or the SSD.
Then there's the backlit keyboard. Most of the keyboards in this review range from tolerable to unbearably bouncy. The keyboard on the EliteBook Folio 1020 drew me in from "The quick brown fox," and didn't let go. With excellent spacing, room for my 10 thumbs, great tactile feedback, and a throw that would put many desktop keyboards to shame, I can type on this keyboard for hours with few mistakes and very little fatigue.
It will take you a while to get used to the Synaptics ForcePad. There's no click, but the pressure sensitivity is a bit odd, at least at first. HP has a full tutorial that steps you through the settings. Along with pinch to zoom, you get a two-finger drag that's useful for moving items over large expanses, two-finger right-click in addition to the traditional click-in-the-lower-right-corner, and pressure-sensitive gestures to continue scrolling and to speed up or slow down zooming.
Battery life is good. The EliteBook managed to keep going seven hours with my standard video-playback test. That's not as good as the Asus ZenBook in this roundup (the less-capable screen in the ZenBook makes a big difference), but it's better than all the others.
Much to HP's credit, the EliteBook Folio 1020 comes with a full array of ports (see product chart below for details), including a docking connector that, with a dongle, can convert into an Ethernet and VGA port. Not enough? The $209 HP 2013 UltraSlim Docking Station has two DisplayPort ports, one VGA, one Ethernet, four USB 3.0, and an audio line-in/out port in a very small and light package.
While the Core M-5Y71 processor won't win any speed awards, it's certainly up to any common business task, short of balancing the federal budget. Gamers may want to look elsewhere, and if you frequently edit videos, the EliteBook you will certainly want more oomph.
The upgrade to Windows 10 went without a hitch. After a few days waiting, the Get Windows 10 app in Windows 8.1 notified me that Windows 10 was ready. Installation took a few clicks and a couple of reboots.
The EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 is a sleek, luxurious, and feature-packed machine that puts battery life ahead of performance.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
Still the king of the flip-all-the-way-over 13-inch Ultrabooks, the Yoga 3 Pro is also a remarkable deal. Thanks to recent discounts, the price is only $1,149 for a machine with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a solid 3,200-by-1,800 screen. But don't expect much battery life, and watch out for the crapware.
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
Some people like the "watchband hinge" that lets you use the Yoga 3 Pro like a regular Ultrabook, or flipped over like a tent, or flipped all the way around to create a thick tablet. The keyboard deactivates when the angle exceeds 190 degrees.
If you can use that kind of versatility, the Yoga 3 Pro won't disappoint. The hinge is a masterwork of engineering. Even if you only use the contortionist as a clamshell, the hinge provides excellent support through a wide range of angles -- all the way to flat straight, with both the keyboard and the screen pointing up.
For most of the rest of us, though, the hinge isn't nearly as important as the old-fashioned qualities we seek in laptops: performance, ergonomics, battery life, stunning good looks. The Yoga 3 Pro excels in almost all of those categories, and the recently lowered price may tip it your way.
At the heart of the Yoga 3 Pro beats an Intel Core M-5Y71. According to AnandTech's extensive benchmarking, the Yoga 3 Pro runs neck-and-neck with the much-cheaper Asus ZenBook 13, a little bit behind the Dell XPS 13, and ahead of the Surface Pro 3. It had no problem at all working with my typical, big office documents and handling simple photo editing.
The Yoga's 13-by-9-by-0.5-inch dimensions make it a little bit bigger, but as thin as the Asus ZenBook 13. At 2.6 pounds it matches the ZenBook 13 and the Dell XPS 13.
In my stress test -- installing 100 or so Windows 8.1 updates, back-to-back -- the fan kicked on but wasn't particularly noticeable, and I didn't detect any substantial heat buildup.
I don't like the keyboard, even though it is backlit and the keycaps are scooped out ever so slightly to help your fingers hone in. The throw is a typically stunted 1.2mm, but the keys don't spring back quickly enough for my taste. There is also very little feedback. Lenovo used to ship Yogas with six rows of keys, but the Yoga 3 Pro has only five. Alas, there are no dedicated F keys, and the media keys (volume, play, pause) are all in the hunt-and-peck area at the bottom. By comparison, the Dell XPS 13 has six rows of keys, making for a more comfortable layout.
The 3.5-by-2.3-inch Synaptics touchpad works reasonably well, but I occasionally hit a snag with long drags where the touchpad gave up, and I had to try again.
The Yoga 3 Pro has decent enough sound, but the bottom-firing speakers muddled things when I used the laptop in clamshell mode, and even when it was flipped over completely to act like a tablet.
I had trouble with the power switch. It's on the right side of the base, near the middle, and for the life of me I kept hitting it accidentally while adjusting the hinge.
You might think that the Yoga 3 Pro's low-glare 3,200-by-1,800 display would match the 3,200-by-1,800 display in the Dell XPS 13, but the Lenovo doesn't reach those heights. The Lenovo display is perfectly fine for business use, but it doesn't match the Dell's extraordinary color depth when the picture is dark. Watch the trailer for "Batman vs. Superman" or the snippet in the "Star Wars VII" trailer that shows Darth Vader's helmet, and you'll immediately see what I mean.
My battery tests were revealing. Using my standard no Wi-Fi, no sound, 70 percent brightness, endless loop of wildlife.wmv running in Windows Media Player, the Yoga Pro 3's battery lasted only four hours. That's the shortest battery life in this roundup by far.
Lenovo ships the machine with complete manuals and an icon on the taskbar that brings up the manuals. One problem: When you click on the icon, you don't see the manuals. Instead, you see an ad for a PDF reader called Nitro. Oh, Lenovo, will you never learn? The machine is absolutely loaded with crapware, starting with 20 Lenovo apps.
Fortunately, you can buy a clean Signature Edition machine through the Microsoft store. Unfortunately, the Microsoft version costs $150 more than ordering direct from Lenovo.
Upgrading to Windows 10 worked without a hitch. Unfortunately, all of Lenovo's lovely crapware came along for the ride.
The bottom line: The Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 offers high resolution, good performance, and great flexibility, but dismal battery life.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
"The tablet that can replace your laptop" made a big impression when it shipped a year ago. Though Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 is showing its age, I know many people who still swear it's the greatest portable computing device ever created. Whether you would agree depends, in no small part, on how you view the slap-on keyboard. Some people love it, while others are decidedly meh. No matter what you think of the keyboard, the Surface Pro 3 is a classy and truly revolutionary machine that deserves its billion-dollar run rate.
But is it the right machine for you?
Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Earlier Surfaces weren't up to snuff. The original Surface (running now-defunct Windows RT) led to a $900 million earnings write-off. The Surface Pro, the Surface 2 (also RT), and the Surface Pro 2 all failed to generate much excitement. But the Surface Pro 3 hit the mark. In spite of many early problems with Wi-Fi connections and 10 firmware updates, by January of this year the Wi-Fi problems were history and the Surface Pro 3 hasn't looked back.
Now, the machine is starting to show its age, but Microsoft has been creatively bundling discounts. Expect to see even heftier discounts as the rumored Surface Pro 4 makes an appearance.
The machine I tested -- with an Intel Core i5-4300U processor, 8GB of memory, a 256GB SSD, and a 2,160-by-1,440 display -- lists for $1,429 ($1,299 plus $130 for the slap-a-long Type Cover keyboard). Costco offers a 4GB/128GB/Core i5 version with Type Cover and a one-year Office 365 Personal subscription for $1,150, and an 8GB/256GB/Core i7 version with Type Cover and Office 365 Personal for $1,700. That puts the Surface Pro 3 at the top of the price range in this roundup, a little more expensive than a comparable Dell XPS 13.
While you can buy and at least theoretically use a Surface Pro 3 without a Type Cover, the Type Cover will be the first accessory you want and need. Even business customers who use a keyboard only occasionally will want it. That's why, for purposes of this discussion, I include the Type Cover in all specs.
Direct comparisons with other 13.3-inch, 16:9 ultraportables are a bit of a stretch because the Surface Pro 3 packs a 12-inch, 3:2 screen. The Surface Pro 3 (with Type Cover, which protrudes in all directions) runs 11.9 by 8.9 by 0.54 inches -- a tad thicker than the tiny Dell XPS 13, which measures 12 by 7.9 by 0.6 inches and tapers to 0.33 inch. At 2.41 pounds, the Surface Pro weighs significantly less than the 2.8-pound XPS 13.
The Type Cover attaches quite solidly, with a long strip of strong magnets. But it doesn't sit flush with the tablet part. The Type Cover rides up, completely covering the bottom bezel. You won't be able to swipe up from the bottom with the keyboard attached -- a potential problem in Windows 8.1, but no sweat at all in Windows 10. Using the Type Cover, though, can pose problems for fast typists -- it flexes too much. Typing hard and fast makes the base behind the keys jump up and down like a Jeep without shock absorbers.
The kickstand has a good, solid feel, and it will extend to 150 degrees. On the downside, it takes up quite a bit of room. I found it awkward to prop on my lap.
The pen is a joy to use. It's very precise to my nonartist hands, with lots of tricks for the top and two lower buttons. There's even a loop for it on the Type Cover. Microsoft likes it so much it bought the company, N-Trig.
The small 3.5-by-1.7-inch touchpad works well enough, but it's so small. That makes it hard, especially for those with big fingers, to tap and drag long distances.
Running an older Intel Core i5-4300U "Haswell" processor, the Surface Pro 3 can chew through any normal business workload with aplomb. AnandTech ran dozens of performance tests and found that the Surface Pro 3, while quite capable, isn't as fast as the other computers in this review. That's expected, given the Surface Pro 3's year-old design. When I put the computer through my stress test -- more than 100 Windows 8.1 patches, run back to back -- I could hear the fan whirring, but it wasn't overly annoying. The back got a bit warm to the touch.
The 12-inch, 2,160-by-1,440 screen feels a bit retro to me, perhaps because of the 3:2 aspect ratio. As long as I was working, it felt fine, but the minute I switched to movie trailers, I lost a whole lot of real estate to letterboxing. The screen suffers from the same lack of black fidelity (in videos) that I describe with the Yoga 3 Pro. The Dell XPS 13 has much better reproduction, especially in dark scenes, as you can see immediately in the "Batman vs. Superman" trailer.
In my battery stress test -- no Wi-Fi, no volume, 70 percent brightness, running a continuous loop of wildlife.wmv with Windows Media Player -- the Surface Pro 3 lasted 5.5 hours. That's comparable to the Dell XPS 13 and much better than the Yoga 3 Pro.
Upgrading to Windows 10 went without a hitch -- no driver problems, no hiccups. Of course, the Surface Pro 3 doesn't have a Windows Hello-compatible camera (for face recognition) or a fingerprint reader, but all of the desktop mode and tablet mode functions work like a champ.
If you can get a good price, grab one fast. There is no tablet (or tablet wannabe) better suited to navigate the transition to Windows 10.