Hot on the heels of Apple’s iPad Pro and Google’s Pixel C, what I thought would have been another incremental upgrade announcement from another technology company (you know, faster processor, more memory, bigger ssd drive) turned out to be quite the innovation.
You can read the official specs over on their site. They also launched a whole bunch of other stuff – the Surface Pro 4, Lumia 950, 950XL, Xbox related stuff, Hololens dev kits, etc but i’m writing mainly about my thoughts around the Surface Book. You can watch the whole announcement over on their event site.
I’ll start with this – I think Microsoft nailed it.
In looking for the one device and ecosystem to rule them all, it’s always been a conflict for me – do I invest in Google solutions or Microsoft ones. So far, I’ve had to spend money on both. I would have gone all Google if not for their lack of a mainstream OS and a Microsoft Office level solution (I don’t think Google Docs is good enough although I think it will get there eventually).
But a combination of their Surface device, Windows 10 and their phone, you could get your computing done (I wanted to say ‘work’ but it’s good enough for decent gaming too it seems) from almost wherever you are, using whatever device you have on you.
For a full fledged computing experience, use the Surface Book docked to the keyboard. This is the laptop as we know it today. 12 hours official battery life (probably less in real life), dedicated GPU, keyboard, USB ports, etc. You can even output it to an external display.
Wanna watch a movie, flip over the keyboard and turn it to presentation mode.
Want to use it as a clipboard, detach the keyboard and use their new 1024 pressure point pen. You lose the dedicated GPU which is in the keyboard but it’s ok.
Don’t want to lug it around (why would you not want to? It’s also so light) when you go for a short walk? Just bring your phone. As long as you’re storing stuff on the cloud, everything is still accessible on the phone.
And if for some reason, you still refuse to bring the Surface Book out and would rather just bring your Lumia 950, a display dock and wireless keyboard and mouse (or perhaps wherever you’re going already has these), you could do that too. Continuum looks quite promising.
And assuming you got the highest spec-ed configuration of all these devices, I’d think you can do any of that without compromising performance.
The only downside if you’re getting the highest spec for the Surface Book? Price.
128GB/Core Intel i5, 8GB USD$1,499
256GB/Core Intel i5, 8GB USD$1,699
256GB/Core Intel i5, 8GB, dGPU USD$1,899
256GB/Core Intel i7, 8GB, dGPU USD$2,099
512GB/Core Intel i7, 16GB, dGPU USD$2,699
I simply feel that a decent machine will need to start off with at least 512GB of space so that there’s a decent working balance after installing the OS and all the other applications you need for work and play. So that leaves me with only 1 option really and it’s a hefty USD$2,699…which is close to SGD$3,850 (based on the exchange rate at the time of writing). Quite a bit over what I expect to pay considering I just got my Thinkpad X1 carbon earlier this year.
That said, do I still want it?
Because it’s performant. And because in terms of pricing, it needs to be compared to the total cost of ownership of both a laptop and a tablet. How much is my current laptop? SGD$3,100. My Nexus 7 Tablet? I think I paid $550 for it. Total cost? SGD$3,650. For a little bit more, i get full fledged tablet I can do work on at almost desktop performance.
Ok. Now to start saving for this.