Microsoft is now letting customers trade-in older Surface devices for credit towards a new Surface Pro 3. There are a number of caveats to this offer, but the biggest one is that you should ignore it as there are better deals elsewhere.
Before getting to that, the biggest question of course is whether you should even upgrade to a Surface Pro 3 now. Given where we are in the schedule, one might reasonable question whether they should wait for the next product revision. Indeed, I addressed this issue recently in Ask Paul: Buy Surface Pro 3 Now or Wait for Surface Pro 4? and noted that if this were my own decision, I’d wait. Why? Because the hardware in the Surface Pro 3 was already a generation behind when the product launched last year, and while Microsoft may hold off until the Windows 10 launch (September-ish) for a Surface Pro 4 (or whatever), that device will be much more up-to-date.
That said, depending on your wants and needs, this offer doesn’t look that too bad on the, um, surface. Just be aware of the niggling details. And know that you can do just as well—or better—elsewhere.
First, the caveats.
It’s a temporary offer. You must trade-in your Surface by March 8, 2015, and then buy a new Surface Pro 3 (at $699 and up) by April 8, 2015.
Then, Microsoft says you can “get up to $650 toward the purchase of Surface Pro 3” with a previous Surface trade-in. That is complete bullshit. The only way you can get that kind of money on a previous Surface trade-in is if that previous Surface was a—wait for it—the most expensive version of the Surface Pro 3. Or maybe not: when I calculated the trade-in value of the highest-end Surface Pro 3 they document, including the power supply and a Type Cover, I was given a quote of just $550.
You can also only trade-in only one Surface. This makes sense, I know. But for those with multiple devices—say a Surface RT and some kind of Surface Pro—it would be nice to finally put the past behind and step up to the latest device. But you can’t do that. All you can do is trade-in a device in working or non-working condition and then optionally add a power supply and/or Type/Touch Cover. Oddly, those accessories often don’t change the trade-in value.
To see how this might pan out, I checked out a few different potential Surface trade-ins. It’s funny how much the value changes depending on the circumstances.
For example, a non-working Surface Pro 2 (64GB) with no power adapter or typing keyboard was quoted at just $4, which is hilarious, but in trying that configuration again later, I was told that “Surface must be in WORKING condition to be eligible for this promotion,” even though “non-working” is an option. Change it to working and it’s worth $122. Throw in a power adapter and Touch Keyboard, and it’s still worth only $122. Weird.
Looking at Surface 2 (RT-based, 32 GB, Wi-Fi-only), I see that working unit is worth $105. Here again, add in the accessories and the trade-in value doesn’t increase.
There’s no way to trade-in other Surface accessories, like the Power Cover, which is too bad.
But 10 seconds of research shows that you can get similar prices from other trade-in sites. And you don’t have to buy a Surface Pro 3 or stick to an arbitrary schedule to take advantage of them. You can also trade-in multiple devices and accessories. (But not, oddly, that Power Cover.)
For example, a Surface Pro 2 (64GB) is worth up to $193.20 on Amazon.com Trade-in, or $183.55 in “good” condition. That’s a lot better than the Microsoft offer, though you will be paid in the form of an Amazon.com digital credit. Which I think is as good as cash, but whatever. Likewise, that Surface 2 (32GB) is worth up to $160.40, also a much better deal than the Microsoft offer.
Over on Gazelle, that Surface Pro 2 (64GB) is worth up to $171 if you throw in the accessories. And the Surface 2 (32GB) is worth up to $151 (with accessories).
Given all this, my advice is to wait on Surface Pro 4 (or a potential Core M-based Surface 3) and to trade-in any and all existing Surface equipment, including any relevant accessories at Amazon.com, Gazelle, or a similar service. You’ll get more and have more options.