"Beautiful and broken": yet another review of surface book
This week I accidentally had the opportunity to put my hands on a Surface Book and
- 100 % contrary to my expectations - I liked it in many aspects. But lets start with the "problem statement":
Surface Book is the latest hardware device from Microsoft. There are two outstanding characteristics:
- it's incomparable overpriced
- it was dysfunctional from it's launch date (October 2015) until mid march 2016
Focusing on mobility, power management is crucial. Keeping this in mind, the surface book was generally unserviceable since it's launch. It's obvious that the numerous problems are linked to driver issues and the underlying skylake architecture. It's not surprising that we did not see a lot of skylake devices in late 2015 and early 2016. But charging 2,699.00 $ (USA), 2.919,00 € (Germany) for the i7/512 GB SSD device allows no excuses: fix it or keep it. I was very surprised that so many people/fanboys kept the device complaining about the issues but still did not return it. If you want to read more about it first-hand I recommend the articles linked at the bottom.
My personal experience: there are three aspects that stand out:
- the keyboard is the best notebook keyboard I ever touched on a windows machine, literally. It's got Apple-alike quality (which is the highest score that I can valuate).
- The touchpad is, again, close to Apple's touchpad, which is outstanding for a windows device. Or let me express it in school grades: I consider Mac touchpad as A, this device may get a B or B+. The next best windows touchpad I'd grade as D.
- The screen is remarkable: the aspect ratio 3:2 makes a lot of sense, lowering the res to Full HD works fine.
Let me explain the last topic in detail: running screens beyond 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 is ludicrous on Windows devices. Windows has no reliable feature to support any kind of application, regardless it's developer(s) simplemindedness. HighDPI is a wish, Windows 10 is promising, not keeping a lot of it. I personally do heavily relay on Hyper-V, it's VM Connect console and RDP. Further more I need to attach projectors undeviating. FullHD is by far the best thing you can get from a projector in an instructor's life. Running a higher resolution than the 2nd screen would require that windows can handle this properly.
But, astonishingly, lowering the resolution from 3000x2000 to 1920x1080 does NOT look too shabby. It's fine, which really surprised me a lot. From one moment to the other, owning such a high res screen is possible. But: unfortunately you got to pay a huge amount of money for the screen. And the major benefit to me is the capability to "not using it" the way it's meant to be.
But wait, there is one thing more: 3:2 aspect ratio is great. I always thought that wide screen displays do not make a lot of sense. Surface book proofs this. It's a better way of working although there is a little downside: the device is noticeable top-heavy. Never mind, I do like the close-to-square approach.
Wrap up: it's a shame, I'd really like to buy a device with this outstanding keyboard and touchpad accompanied by e.g.2000x1500 or 1920x1200 screen. I don't need touch, I don't need stupid high res, but I'd really like to buy more memory than 16 GB, at least 1 TB SSD (which is not available in anywhere yet) and more battery powers is always nice to have.
Finally, I assume that surface book faces a very small target audience: Microsoft employees, Microsoft enthusiasts and a very limited amount of top executives that will suffer from the limitations of HighRes displays interacting with poorly developed line-of-biz-apps.
P.S. "Beautiful and broken" originates from Paul Thurrott; Thanks, Paul, for the beautiful quote. It's taken from "Windows Weekly", a Podcast you will find here:twit.tv/ww