Bill Bennett


Surface Book highlights a hybrid computer problem

Microsoft’s Surface Book is as good as it gets for hybrid devices. You can’t buy a better Windows hybrid device, even if the Surface Book still has a few irritating bugs.

Hybrids are popular. They are the only growing Windows PC segment. There is no doubt they deliver the experience many people want from a computing device.

And yet there is something wrong with the hybrid format. Wrong could be the wrong word here. Perhaps unsatisfactory better fits the bill.

It’s a compromise

The problem is that all hybrids involve some form of compromise. In most cases you don’t get the best laptop experience, nor do you get the best tablet experience.

Pure tablets tend to be thinner and lighter. Straight laptops are more robust.

Many users are happy to tradeoff these experiences in return for having two devices in one package.

The hybrid tradeoff

This hybrid tradeoff plays out in a different way with the Surface Book. As the earlier post says, the Surface Book is an excellent Windows 10 laptop. In practice I found once the review was over, I only ever used the Surface Book as a laptop. It didn’t get pulled apart once in everyday use. There wasn’t any pressing reason to do so.

Sure detaching the screen is clever. But in practice I found I never needed to do this apart from testing to see how it works. [1]

And there’s the problem. The Surface Book is a great Windows laptop, the extras that turn it into an OK tablet add a lot to the cost. Prices start at NZ$2750. That’s $1000 more than you’d pay for a Windows laptop with the same specification that doesn’t double as a tablet.

  1. I also found I almost never use the touchscreen. It helps that the Surface Book has a great touchpad that means you don’t need to make uncomfortable reaching movements.  ↩

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