First impression – Microsoft has hit the sweet spot! Much though I hate to admit it, I’m a little tired of being hunched over my Surface Pro 3 when I’m in desktop mode, and the Surface Book is just that little bit larger, and it makes a huge difference.
In my workflow I absolute must have the ability to use my main device as a tablet for taking notes with a pen, or sketching out ideas, and making mind maps. The Surface Pro 3 did an excellent job of that and I’ve been very happy with it for fourteen months. But it’s always felt like a bit of a compromise when I was in desktop mode. The Type Cover was fine when I was out and about, and until I started typing on the Surface Book, I had no complaints. But Microsoft, you did a great job on the Surface Book keyboard, and now when I switch back I realize what I was missing.
Why get a Surface Book when my Surface Pro 3 was doing a stellar job as my main machine? People have been asking me that and now that I’ve got it I can tell them:
The larger screen size DOES matter. I can tile four windows on the screen and they are all comfortably readable. (Hint: Windows+Left, Windows+Up puts the current window in the top left corner. Open another application and use Windows+Left, Windows+Down and that application will sit in the lower left corner. Do the same on the right side and you’ve got four windows up). I wish that I had found these keyboard shortcuts sooner. Trying to do that with a touchpad is tricky. Here’s a screen shot of what I’m seeing right now.
I think Microsoft got it right with the 80:20 idea that many people will use the Surface Book 80% of the time as a laptop and 20% of the time as a tablet. I might be a little heavier on the tablet side of things but much of that extra time, I’ll probably flip the screen over and keep it attached to the keyboard for the prolonged battery life.
Why get the Surface Book instead of a Surface Pro 4?
The point a which you can make a direct comparison is when you configure a machine with
- Core i5 / 8 GB RAM / 256 MB of storage
Comparing the Surface Book to a Surface Pro 4 with a Type Cover, the difference is about $370 USD. I’m seeing a lot of value for the difference. You’re getting:
- Larger screen. That is physically larger, and higher resolution.
- More battery life. It’s so nice to glance down at the battery indicator and NOT have to think about managing your life around the battery.
- A device that you can fully use and type on in your lap or in a car or other cramped or awkward situations.
- The keyboard is so good that I won’t need to have a second, full-sized keyboard for prolonged work sessions at a desk (as I did with the Surface Pro).
I still like to work with two screens up for production/development, and I’m keeping the Surface Pro 3. It’s a perfect complement to the Surface Book. I’m using Mouse Without Borders to allow me to do all my typing on the Surface Book.
I’m really liking the Surface Book so far. It’s a joy.