As a technology fan and follower of everything Microsoft, I’ve been interested in the Surface Pro 3 since day one. After owning the Surface RT and Surface Pro in the past, I’ve been dying to get my hands on one, so I was very excited when, due to popular demand, the partners at the forward thinking structural engineering practice where I work decided they would give the Surface Pro 3 a try. It was the company aim to find out if the Surface Pro 3 was as powerful as advertised and if they could potentially replace our existing line up of laptops.
To fully appreciate the versatility of the Surface Pro 3 and it’s potential impact and uses for an engineering practice, I believe it’s important to highlight the strengths of the device in it’s three main working forms: tablet, laptop and personal computer, as follows.
The Surface Pro 3 is extremely lightweight for a 12 inch tablet with high end computing internals. It has a fantastic high resolution screen, allowing for more content to be displayed, and a digital pen, which can be used to navigate around the OS or draw/write on the tablet just like a normal pen. As a Structural Engineer, being able to take the Surface Pro 3 to meetings saves a lot of time and hassle and takes up much less space, replacing a laptop, notebook, diary, pens, ruler, calculator and everything else you forgot! The addition of the digital pen has many benefits, including note taking and detailed sketching facilities, which can be used to explain ideas with the design team and saved for later use and/or shared with others very quickly. As we are striving for a paperless office, this is a perfect tool, and combined with OneDrive cloud storage/sharing it’s always accessible from anywhere, including a variety of alternative devices, such as mobile phones.
The Surface Pro 3 and it’s digital pen is also a fantastic tool for an art hobbyist like myself, making sketching/painting simple with fully functional art software such as Photoshop and Sketchbook Pro, which cannot be used on tablets with lower specifications.
I sketched this on the Surface Pro 3 – I have tried to highlight all of the main features of the device, but there are many, many more
With the flip out kickstand and thin, lightweight, magnetic keyboard, a complete laptop equivalent is only ever a click away. The optional Surface Arc Mouse can also be added to complement the Surface Pro 3, which takes up minimal space as it can be folded flat for easy storage. For a Structural Engineer, to have the power of a laptop in such a small package, with the ability to open a full building model in REVIT and walk through the structure with a client or the Architect, is invaluable. Discussing critical details and structural elements is now very simple, as we can discuss these issues with the aid of full building models on screen, rather than with simple 2D plan drawings. The Surface Pro 3 can also be connected by HDMI cable to projectors during meetings for larger views or alternatively, wirelessly, to any Miracast enabled devices including many modern day large screen televisions.
The power of the Surface Pro 3 is evident when you get back to the office and start connecting it to monitor, keyboard/mouse, speakers, printers, scanners, cameras, mobile phones and other USB devices – it is clearly a full computer replacement. The optional dock also allows up to 5 USB devices to be added, if required. For structural engineers, opening multiple pieces of software on the Surface Pro 3 at the same time, including office, REVIT, AutoCAD, structural analysis suites, finite element analysis models and anything else you can think of, is a multitasking heaven. The general power of the device, and insane boot up speed, allows for greater efficiency, so expect the boss to be impressed with your increased work speed (unfortunately, they always want more!).
As a clearly multifunctional device, the Surface Pro 3 has many benefits for all kinds of users. I’ve noticed more and more people bringing the Surface Pro 3 to meetings now, as other design practices have discovered the benefits of the device and started to invest. It could easily be used to replace old desktop PCs and laptops for regular users also, without needing to buy an additional tablet for less demanding tasks. I know we have discovered the Surface Pro 3 meets all of our requirements, it definitely is a full replacement for all your computing needs – why have multiple devices when you can have one that does it all?
Author bio: Matthew Ashworth has worked as a structural engineer since graduating in 2005. In his spare time he has a passion for Video Games, Art, Technology and all things Microsoft.
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