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Gaucho100K Apr 29, 17 2:00 pm

MS Surface Book - any users here on FT...?
 
Im getting ready to retire my ageing Lenovo ThinkPad W520.

Ive pretty much decided to drop Lenovo and explore other options. As much as Ive become a fan of the Iphone, I cant seem to fall in love with a MacBook.

On a recent trip to the USA, I played around with a Surface Book at a MicroSoft store and was very positively surprised. I like the tablet option and the idea of not having to learn the "new ways" of operating a Mac are drawing me closer to giving a Surface Book a shot.

It would be great to head what experiences FTers have had with Surface Books, not looking for any formal reviews, just comments and bullet points on the "big picture". Ive been reading up on the usual big website reviews so looking more for a "normal user" experience report.

Thanks very much !!!
Alex / Gaucho100K

joshwex90 Apr 29, 17 3:00 pm

I have the Surface Pro, not the book, and I'm a big fan. But not sure that's what you're interested in

Gaucho100K Apr 29, 17 7:08 pm


Originally Posted by joshwex90 (Post 28245874)
I have the Surface Pro, not the book, and I'm a big fan. But not sure that's what you're interested in

Im considering the Surface Book, not the Surface Pro - but would still be interested in hearing your thoughts & experiences with the Pro.

Thanks.

ROW2Aisle Apr 29, 17 7:44 pm


Originally Posted by Gaucho100K (Post 28246443)
Im considering the Surface Book, not the Surface Pro - but would still be interested in hearing your thoughts & experiences with the Pro.

Thanks.

I looked at both and decided to go with the Surface Pro 4 primarily for its lighter weight and smaller form factor. I chose a unit with an i7 processor, 16-GB RAM, & 512 GB storage adding a 64-GB Micro-SD for emergency backup while travelling when I have slow or no connectivity to OneDrive.

At home I connect the SurfacePro to a 27" 4-K monitor via the mini display-port and extend the display to the external monitor when there is a lot of information in multiple windows to display such as in stock market trading platforms. When there is heavy graphics display to the external monitor the SurfacePro runs warmer than normal but I don't notice a performance reduction.

waalien Apr 29, 17 8:21 pm

I have a Surface Pro 4 as well, and I really like it for work. I connect it to 2 24" monitors, external keyboard and mouse when I'm at home, and then just unplug from the dock and take it along when I travel. It's much lighter and just as robust as the Lenovo laptop that it replaced. Having it allows me to leave my iPad at home, as the Surface is just as handy on a plane when in tablet mode as the iPad.

The only downside that I've found, is that because it uses Windows 10, I had to find other ways to download Netflix and Amazon Prime videos to the tablet for watching while flying (the iOS apps provide that functionality natively in the apps, but that ability is disabled in the Win 10 apps).

el aye Apr 29, 17 9:03 pm

My wife owns a surface book and I just got one through work. I think they are really nice machines. If you don't mind the "gap" when closed due to the hinge, and like the size/weight I don't think you can really go wrong with it.

tmiw Apr 29, 17 10:06 pm

Something to keep in mind too is that most of the battery is in the base of the laptop. As a result, tablet mode only lasts a few hours vs. much longer if attached to the base. This may not be important if you don't intend to use tablet mode often, however.

joshwex90 Apr 30, 17 12:32 am


Originally Posted by Gaucho100K (Post 28246443)
Im considering the Surface Book, not the Surface Pro - but would still be interested in hearing your thoughts & experiences with the Pro.

Thanks.

They have been mostly positive. If you compare it tablet versus tablet to an iPad, it's a very different experience. With all that Windows has done to make Windows 10 the "be all," iOS (or Android) make for a more fluid tablet experience. And the battery on those is much better.

But that's where my criticism of the Surface ends. Computer versus computer, I'm extremely happy. It runs quickly, doesn't give me issues, multi-tasks really well, and is extremely intuitive and responsive. And as tablets go, it is one of the most powerful tablets around (if not the most powerful).

lamphs Apr 30, 17 7:17 am


Originally Posted by joshwex90 (Post 28246983)
They have been mostly positive. If you compare it tablet versus tablet to an iPad, it's a very different experience. With all that Windows has done to make Windows 10 the "be all," iOS (or Android) make for a more fluid tablet experience. And the battery on those is much better.

But that's where my criticism of the Surface ends. Computer versus computer, I'm extremely happy. It runs quickly, doesn't give me issues, multi-tasks really well, and is extremely intuitive and responsive. And as tablets go, it is one of the most powerful tablets around (if not the most powerful).

I tend to agree. It has been a great replacement for my Dell notebook.

farmerandy Apr 30, 17 12:08 pm

I've got a Surface Pro 3 and a Surface Book. Though I can't give much comparison since I don't own an Apple product of any kind (not anti apple), the Surface Book is by far the best experience I've had with any Windows/PC experience. The Pro 3 is pretty good as well; I've only one issue with it thus far which was quickly remedied with a hard reset. Battery life has been great with both, even after 2 years on the Pro 3. I rarely use my Pro 3 now that I have my Book, but the one positive I give to the Pro is the weight compared to the Book. As far as tablet mode goes, the Book is a bit uncomfortable for me due to the sheer weight of the product, so I treat it as a laptop. I'm extremely happy with my Surface Book, more so than when I got my Pro 3, and would definitely buy another one if something were to happen to my current Book.

billatq Apr 30, 17 3:19 pm


Originally Posted by waalien (Post 28246566)
I have a Surface Pro 4 as well, and I really like it for work. [...] It's much lighter [...]

Same here. I also like that they keyboard cover is super light, though it doesn't sit well on all tray tables.

KCZ Apr 30, 17 3:34 pm

I've had one SP2 and three SP4's fail in 6 months. Failed hard drive. Dead battery. (Neither user-replaceable.) Defective fan. Dead touchscreen. Couldn't detect keyboard. Failure in power management. Dead touchscreen. Etc. Horrible MS customer support. Wasted >150 hours of my time in total.

I found the SP to be fantastic when it worked and I used it for everything, but I can't justify the amount of my time that got sucked up dealing with all the problems.

lewinr May 1, 17 12:02 am

I've had a Surface Book for over a year and I'm not very happy with it. I was attracted to its cool looks, but I would not buy one again.

Main criticisms:

- for the first 6 months it was extremely unreliable and buggy. that has been fixed by an endless number of firmware updates and Windows 10 updates, but I still have an occasional crash or problem sleeping or not waking up. I'm a very experienced technical user and regularly maintain my OS but still get a BSoD around once a month.

- switching from "notebook mode" to "tablet mode but with the keyboard still attached" (so taking off the screen, flipping it and re-attaching it so it faces outward and can be used as a tablet but while still having the base with its larger battery) on the fly (not at the desk) is an awkward maneuver. It requires holding the base with one hand, the screen with another hand, and pressing the Detach button with a third hand. It is way easier on a Yoga and some other formfactors where the screen flips/twists without detaching. This may or may not be an issue depending on how often you need to make the switch on the fly while not sitting at a desk... if you're mainly working at a desk it probably wont bother you.

- the Fn key toggle is really annoying. It cannot be locked either on or off, so every time you touch it, it toggles and the Fn keys behaviour toggles between normal Fn key and media controls.. If you use the Fn keys often (as I do as a heavy keyboard shortcut and excel user) you never know what you're going to get. Half the time when I press Alt+F4 to close an app I end up muting the speaker instead.

- the hardware has worn rather quickly: scratches are very apparent, the paint has worn off the edges of the base where I rest my hands, some of the markings have worn off the keycaps on letters/keys which I use frequently, and the Ctrl key developed a crack and finally split in two (fixed with some crazy glue :) ). I know that I'm a bit of a hard user of my notebooks, but other notebooks I've had (Lenovo, Sony, Dell, Fujitsu) took the abuse a bit better.

chipmaster May 1, 17 5:08 pm

Nothing beats a fullfeatured laptop! Then one must decide between two two camps Windows and iOS if you are so lucky.

Personally for work and the fact I'm an old dog still in the windows camp.

If I was picking for performance, weight and fullfeature it would be a surface, they aren't cheap but can't beat them for performance/weight and compatibility in a Windows world. I've never been a fan of touch for productivity work, but consumption tablet/phone is the way to go.

Being Windows and made by MS.. you'd think though you can't avoid the Windows stability and firmware pushes that are sure to come, the MS built got to get some inside help for stability, LOL.

Error 601 May 2, 17 10:55 am


Originally Posted by Gaucho100K (Post 28245710)
It would be great to head what experiences FTers have had with Surface Books, not looking for any formal reviews, just comments and bullet points on the "big picture". Ive been reading up on the usual big website reviews so looking more for a "normal user" experience report.

We have a lot of them at work, they're the most popular PC by far (users can usually choose their device) however I don't really see many people using them as tablets. I would also echo the earlier comment about wear and tear, some of them are looking pretty beat up.

Cerberus May 2, 17 11:38 am

I have a bit of history with the Surface line. I started out with the MS Surface Pro 3 i7 fully loaded; then jumped to the MS Surface Book i7 fully loaded (first year). I had no issues or problems with either units. I travelled quite a bit with them -- honestly, the SP3 was awesome from a size/weight perspective but screen was small.

When the new 2016 MBP came out, I went back to Mac. Size, fit, finish -- and what I use it for with the rest of the Apple eco-sphere; for me it works. I like the Microsoft products but I find them to see be lacking on the OS front, too many issues ongoing requiring troubleshooting, etc. And yes, like others, I found the case for the SB and SP3 to get dinged up easily a lot. Awesome screen on the SB but I prefer my 15" on the MBP. Touch is largely overrated to me. Just my two cents.

joshwex90 May 2, 17 12:42 pm


Originally Posted by chipmaster (Post 28254076)
Nothing beats a fullfeatured laptop! Then one must decide between two two camps Windows and iOS if you are so lucky.

Personally for work and the fact I'm an old dog still in the windows camp.

If I was picking for performance, weight and fullfeature it would be a surface, they aren't cheap but can't beat them for performance/weight and compatibility in a Windows world. I've never been a fan of touch for productivity work, but consumption tablet/phone is the way to go.

Being Windows and made by MS.. you'd think though you can't avoid the Windows stability and firmware pushes that are sure to come, the MS built got to get some inside help for stability, LOL.

So get a Surface Laptop! https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/surf...aptop/overview

chipmaster May 2, 17 1:03 pm


Originally Posted by joshwex90 (Post 28257737)

LOL, all our phones are iPhones, my kids I converted to MACs and as in school that is the dominate platform. Now sadly when they come back to the corporate world no escaping MS :rolleyes:

Gaucho100K May 2, 17 6:23 pm

Thanks to all for your great input.... greatly appreciated !!! ^ ^

Is there a date set for the new versions of these machines to come out....? If I read correctly, there is some sort of big MS gathering in the next couple of days and new Hardware and Software will be announced, or....?

Thanks !!!

Error 601 May 3, 17 12:44 am


Originally Posted by joshwex90 (Post 28257737)

That is comically overpriced.

comptr May 3, 17 2:04 am


Originally Posted by Gaucho100K (Post 28259134)
Thanks to all for your great input.... greatly appreciated !!! ^ ^

Is there a date set for the new versions of these machines to come out....? If I read correctly, there is some sort of big MS gathering in the next couple of days and new Hardware and Software will be announced, or....?

Thanks !!!

Here is some more info about the new Surface book: https://www.thurrott.com/mobile/micr...laptop-preview

Probably latter this year the Surface Pro 4 & Surface Book will be updated too.

KCZ May 3, 17 9:19 am


Originally Posted by Error 601 (Post 28260105)
That is comically overpriced.

That price for the i7/16GB/512GB is less than the price for the SP4 because it includes the keyboard. Of course it doesn't appear to have a digitized screen.

As mentioned above, I had 4 SP's fail in less than 6 months and wasted a lot of time dealing with MS support. One day not long ago, I spent nine (9) hours on the phone with MS. I am now retired so I can make time for that, disgustedly, but I can't imagine how anyone who is employed and traveling will have the time to deal with MS's incompetence should any problems occur.

Gaucho100K May 3, 17 9:40 am

I apologize for the dumb question, but, given the launch of the Surface Laptop.... does this mean that the Surface Book will no longer be updated and will be discontinued in favor of the Surface Laptop - which would 'replace' it in the MS product line?

If this is the case, it would be a dissapointment for me, as one of the features I liked most about the S Book is that I could have a 2 in 1 solution of both a laptop and a tablet...... :rolleyes:

ryw May 6, 17 9:04 am


Originally Posted by Gaucho100K (Post 28261782)
I apologize for the dumb question, but, given the launch of the Surface Laptop.... does this mean that the Surface Book will no longer be updated and will be discontinued in favor of the Surface Laptop - which would 'replace' it in the MS product line?

If this is the case, it would be a dissapointment for me, as one of the features I liked most about the S Book is that I could have a 2 in 1 solution of both a laptop and a tablet...... :rolleyes:

My *guess* is no because they've been targeting 2 different markets. The Surface Book seems aimed at professionals who want a 2 in 1 while the Surface Laptop is being aimed at students who would otherwise get a MacBook or schools that use Chromebooks. (Note that the Surface Laptop runs Windows 10 S, which only allows windows apps to run, it costs an extra $50 to upgrade to the regular version of Windows).

Though I would probably expect Microsoft to announce a Surface Pro 5 before a new SB.

Kagehitokiri May 6, 17 10:44 am

i own macs + surface book for tablet that is computer (apple refuses to do one)

i just bought mac book air because i wanted regular USBs before they 'upgrade'

dont think surface laptop has detachable screen, so do not see a reason to get

mceagle555 May 6, 17 4:50 pm

I had the Surface Book for 6 months and loved the touchpad & keyboard, but honestly felt it was a bit heavy and didn't love the "gap." I switched to the Spectre X360 and couldn't be happier. Absolutely amazing machine and great battery life.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/hp-spect...?skuId=5713177

joshwex90 May 7, 17 12:41 am


Originally Posted by ryw (Post 28276135)
(Note that the Surface Laptop runs Windows 10 S, which only allows windows apps to run, it costs an extra $50 to upgrade to the regular version of Windows).

Free upgrade until December


Originally Posted by mceagle555 (Post 28277511)
I had the Surface Book for 6 months and loved the touchpad & keyboard, but honestly felt it was a bit heavy and didn't love the "gap." I switched to the Spectre X360 and couldn't be happier. Absolutely amazing machine and great battery life.

What "gap?"

tmiw May 7, 17 12:48 am


Originally Posted by joshwex90 (Post 28278349)
What "gap?"

I think mceagle555 is referring to the space between the keyboard and display when it's closed.

Gaucho100K May 7, 17 8:50 am

Funny but I dont mind the "gap".... think it look kinda' cool.... :D

Gaucho100K May 9, 17 8:36 am

Anybody else have feedback on experiences with the Surface line of products...?

AltaBound May 12, 17 1:03 am

Gaucho,

User of the Surface Pro 3 here. Like you I am looking at moving to the surface book or wait for the an updated surface pro 4. I have been very happy with the 3. I travel a lot so appreciate the lighter weight. As a matter of fact it is the weight issue that is holding me back from going with the surface book.

MS is having an event on May 23rd where it is expected (according to online sources that I read) that any updates to the existing product line will be announced. From what I can gather there are no intentions to discontinue either the surface pro or surface book lines. the new laptop is aimed at the student segment and the product will compete with the Chromebook form factor.

I hope this helps.

lhrsfo May 12, 17 4:48 am


Originally Posted by AltaBound (Post 28301473)
Gaucho,

User of the Surface Pro 3 here. Like you I am looking at moving to the surface book or wait for the an updated surface pro 4. I have been very happy with the 3. I travel a lot so appreciate the lighter weight. As a matter of fact it is the weight issue that is holding me back from going with the surface book.

MS is having an event on May 23rd where it is expected (according to online sources that I read) that any updates to the existing product line will be announced. From what I can gather there are no intentions to discontinue either the surface pro or surface book lines. the new laptop is aimed at the student segment and the product will compete with the Chromebook form factor.

I hope this helps.

I would concur with this. The screen is a little small for me on the Surface Pro 3, but that's part of my trade-off for light and portable. It may well be that when the laptop ban comes into place, I'll go back to a larger laptop as I won't be able to take the smaller one onboard anyway.

nkedel May 12, 17 5:25 pm


Originally Posted by Gaucho100K (Post 28245710)
Im getting ready to retire my ageing Lenovo ThinkPad W520.

Which processor in the W520?

The Surface Book models are going to have somewhat similar performance to the dual core W520, but if you have the quad core W520, any of the ultrabook CPUs in the Surface book will be a disappointing step down.

If you want to stick with a quad core, have a look at the Dell XPS 15 9560 (or last-gen 9550, or the Precision M5520/M5510 which are the "business" versions of the same machine) or the HP Zbook Studio.

The Dell E5480 (and E5470) do also have quad core options available, but both are not much lighter/smaller or as-equipped with the higher end process, much cheaper than the XPS/Zbook (when new; as refurbs, they're hugely cheaper) and they are much less well-built.

The Dells, in particular, stuff a full 15" screen into an amazingly compact package.

Gaucho100K May 13, 17 3:29 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience.... Im going to wait until the end of the month and see what the new lineup looks like and what the timetable is.

Cheers,
Gaucho100K


Originally Posted by AltaBound (Post 28301473)
Gaucho,

User of the Surface Pro 3 here. Like you I am looking at moving to the surface book or wait for the an updated surface pro 4. I have been very happy with the 3. I travel a lot so appreciate the lighter weight. As a matter of fact it is the weight issue that is holding me back from going with the surface book.

MS is having an event on May 23rd where it is expected (according to online sources that I read) that any updates to the existing product line will be announced. From what I can gather there are no intentions to discontinue either the surface pro or surface book lines. the new laptop is aimed at the student segment and the product will compete with the Chromebook form factor.

I hope this helps.


Gaucho100K May 13, 17 3:32 pm

Not sure I need the full power of the Quad Core processing muscle, but you raise an important point regardless.... thanks !!


Originally Posted by nkedel (Post 28304855)
Which processor in the W520?

The Surface Book models are going to have somewhat similar performance to the dual core W520, but if you have the quad core W520, any of the ultrabook CPUs in the Surface book will be a disappointing step down.

If you want to stick with a quad core, have a look at the Dell XPS 15 9560 (or last-gen 9550, or the Precision M5520/M5510 which are the "business" versions of the same machine) or the HP Zbook Studio.

The Dell E5480 (and E5470) do also have quad core options available, but both are not much lighter/smaller or as-equipped with the higher end process, much cheaper than the XPS/Zbook (when new; as refurbs, they're hugely cheaper) and they are much less well-built.

The Dells, in particular, stuff a full 15" screen into an amazingly compact package.


nkedel May 13, 17 8:45 pm


Originally Posted by Gaucho100K (Post 28307920)
Not sure I need the full power of the Quad Core processing muscle, but you raise an important point regardless.... thanks !!

Just a question of whether your applications need it. The single-threaded performance will be a good bit better on the newer machine, but not by nearly enough to make up for the difference between 2 cores/4 threads vs. 4 cores/8 threads for most use.

One other thing about the Surface Book: the memory (like on most thin ultrabook-type laptops and hybrids) is soldered, and can't be upgraded. So make sure you get it with enough memory to last your expected life of the machine.

The SSD is removable/upgradeable in theory, but it's major surgery to get at it and I'd suggest it's pretty much only useful to get at it if the machine is otherwise bricked as a form of data recovery.

May find this interesting: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Micr...Teardown/51972

Mind, pretty much any ultra-thin portable model will be similar. If you want upgradeability and reparability, you pretty much have to stick to the increasingly uncommon full-size business machines.

Gaucho100K May 14, 17 5:41 am

Excellent advice, thanks !!!

Very good points on the reparability as down here in EZE I dont think that MS has a proper hardware division so support and service for Surface Books will pretty much be zero.


Originally Posted by nkedel (Post 28308567)
Just a question of whether your applications need it. The single-threaded performance will be a good bit better on the newer machine, but not by nearly enough to make up for the difference between 2 cores/4 threads vs. 4 cores/8 threads for most use.

One other thing about the Surface Book: the memory (like on most thin ultrabook-type laptops and hybrids) is soldered, and can't be upgraded. So make sure you get it with enough memory to last your expected life of the machine.

The SSD is removable/upgradeable in theory, but it's major surgery to get at it and I'd suggest it's pretty much only useful to get at it if the machine is otherwise bricked as a form of data recovery.

May find this interesting: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Micr...Teardown/51972

Mind, pretty much any ultra-thin portable model will be similar. If you want upgradeability and reparability, you pretty much have to stick to the increasingly uncommon full-size business machines.


trueblu May 18, 17 9:47 am

I recently bought a SB, to replace my Ativ Book 9 or whatever it's called.

I love the keyboard (not a heavy Fn user as someone upthread) and screen.

It's a good bit heavier, and that's taking some getting used to..

I don't mind "the gap" at all.

However, some minor irritations:

a) the screen can only be angled back to about 90 degrees in laptop mode...I've only just realised that I've become used to about 100 degrees :)
b) the power brick: did MS really need to make it such a monster? What's the point of having a (relatively) light but powerful laptop when I have to lug that thing around?
c) having to buy new peripherals for connecting to screens, at the usual ripoff prices. The lack of a mini-HDMI is particularly irritating.

Overall, very much in the positive camp for now, but only had it a week or so...

tb

Gaucho100K Jun 7, 17 4:00 pm

Any update on the new announcements for the Surface Book models....?

Gaucho100K Jun 18, 17 3:55 pm

I just read an article published by techradar that seems to imply that there is a chance that MS will not bring out a Surface Book 2..... anybody else have the scoop about this...???

Thanks.


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