Surface Book

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

Hybrids are popular. They are the only growing PC segment. There is no doubt they are what 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.

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.

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

This tradeoff plays out in a different way with the Surface Book. As my earlier post says, it 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.

Sure detaching the screen is clever. But I never need 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 something with the same specification that doesn’t double as a tablet.


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

 

4 thoughts on “Surface Book underlines the problem with hybrids

  1. Hi Bill,
    The use case is the killer need.
    Business professional taking notes in a meeting using OneNote with a stylus is one.
    Another is warehouse stock picking (Maybe not the $3k Surface book though).

  2. FWIW I detach my Surface Book from the base every day, most nights I read and draw on the sofa.
    I’m also always using touch on the screen, almost as much as using a mouse.
    Its all about choice of being able to switch between pen, mouse, keyboard and touch as the situation changes.

    If you don’t want or need a 2n1 detachable with pen and touch, buy something without those capabilities.

    I hope Microsoft never makes the mistake of making a true laptop. Surface is there push/create new categories (desirable 2-in-1: Tablet that can be a laptop, laptop that can be a tablet), not to be just another OEM.

    Surface Pro, Surface Book, and Surface Studio are all touch-centric reimaginations of the tablet, laptop, and desktop that can both work and play. What would a “true laptop” be advancing?

    • I didn’t want to use this story to delve into Microsoft’s strategy, which is interesting and deserves a separate post. Maybe soon.

      “If you don’t want or need a 2n1 detachable with pen and touch, buy something without those capabilities.”

      That’s the point I’m making when I say: “Many users are happy to tradeoff these experiences in return for having two devices in one package.”

      Many are. But it doesn’t suit everyone. The Surface Book is a lovely device, but it serves a niche.

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