Brad Sams, for Petri IT Knowledgebase:
When the Surface Book 2 was announced late last year, I had high hopes that this was going to be among my favorite laptops, ever. All Microsoft had to do was take the original Book and address the few issues with the hardware and voila, a hero device for the category.
It’s a bit hard to believe but the device was released six months ago and since that time, I have taken the high-end 15in Surface Book 2 on the road to Vegas, NYC, Seattle, Chicago and a few other locations and after all that time with the hardware, here is my long term update.
This is one of the notebooks currently on the market which pose an interesting alternative to the MacBook Pro. I am especially interested in using it for retouching photos in Lightroom, using just the 15” screen in detached mode.
It’s hard to come by extended reviews such as Brad’s, but he conveys his pros and cons succinctly. The Surface Book’s biggest issue is the power button, which sometimes fails to turn the machine on. While this seems serious, the workaround (which shouldn’t be necessary) is extremely simple.
Just the simple fact that I am looking at alternatives to MacBooks, which I have been using for over 10 years now, should be worrying for Apple. While the Surface Book 2 could potentially be an excellent Lightroom hardware platform, I would miss macOS for everything else. Oh — the keyboard supposedly doesn’t die from dust specks. Ultimately the Surface Book 2 would be a compromise, like everything in life, but Microsoft is really trying to tempt users, and is probably succeeding in some cases.
Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:
One issue I did run into with the Surface Book 2 is the power supply. Microsoft has only supplied a 102-watt charger with a machine that has an Nvidia GTX 1060 inside. Most similar laptops are gaming ones that have 150-watt or even 200-watt power supplies. There are two batteries inside the Surface Book 2, one in the base and one in the tablet portion (screen) itself. The base battery discharges too quickly with the supplied charger, meaning the Nvidia card (located in the base) will disconnect in the middle of a long gaming session at maximum performance even if you’re plugged in.
Microsoft is currently investigating this issue, and believes I have a faulty power supply. The company says the “Surface Book 2 is designed to supply enough power to maintain and charge, even under heavy load (including gaming).” I didn’t notice the discharge with apps that rely on the GPU, but most productivity apps simply use graphics power in short bursts rather than long periods like in games. I suspect the 102-watt charger isn’t enough for full performance gaming sessions, which will disappoint many who were hoping to use this as a gaming laptop alongside work tasks. I’ll update this review if the replacement charger makes a difference.
I have also tested with an old 65-watt Surface Book charger and the base still drains too quickly during gaming. I’ve also tested with a Surface Dock, rated at around 90 watts, and this still doesn’t hold the base charge to keep up while gaming. In all scenarios I also tested with the recommended “best battery life” setting, but the base still failed to charge properly during heavy gaming loads. If a replacement charger doesn’t work, Microsoft could potentially fix this in software by reducing the GTX 1060 clock speeds further and slowing the machine down.
Or… you know… they could just supply a more powerful charger.
Hacker News user ‘johnernaut’:
I’m one of the people that switched from a MacBook Pro to the new Surface Book.
The ENTIRE experience was dreadful for me.
More details in the original post, but I’m quite surprised PC manufacturers still haven’t figured out the touchpad — the Surface reviews I read were more favourable.
More people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever before. Our trade-in program for MacBooks was our best ever, and the combination of excitement for the innovation of Surface coupled with the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro – especially among professionals – is leading more and more people to make the switch to Surface, like this. It seems like a new review recommending Surface over MacBook comes out daily. This makes our team so proud, because it means we’re doing good work.
I have been considering this too, but the Performance Base Surface Book is just too expensive (and not available for purchase in my country) — the model that fits my needs best costs $2400. That’s 15″ MacBook Pro territory.
At Connect(); in November, Microsoft is launching a preview of Visual Studio for Mac. This is an exciting development, evolving the mobile-centric Xamarin Studio IDE into a true mobile-first, cloud-first development tool for .NET and C#, and bringing the Visual Studio development experience to the Mac.
At its heart, Visual Studio for Mac is a macOS counterpart of the Windows version of Visual Studio. If you enjoy the Visual Studio development experience, but need or want to use macOS, you should feel right at home. Its UX is inspired by Visual Studio, yet designed to look and feel like a native citizen of macOS. And like Visual Studio for Windows, it’s complemented by Visual Studio Code for times when you don’t need a full IDE, but want a lightweight yet rich standalone source editor.
Fixed link; leads to cached version of page.
Also missed on me is the increased battery life. In our rundown test, the Surface Book lasted 10 hours and 21 minutes, which is quite good. But in my real-world usage, browsing the web, jumping between a half-dozen apps, writing email, monitoring social feeds, etc., it struggled to last a full work day before calling it quits. Most days, the Surface Book would last between six and eight hours, which is about average for a laptop of this size. (Using the Book as a tablet worked for about two hours before it died, which is unchanged from last year.) That’s a far cry from Microsoft’s claimed 16 hours and less than my colleague Vlad Savov could get with the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. Fortunately, this Surface Book has no issues going to sleep when it’s closed and in my bag, which is a problem I’ve encountered with numerous Windows 10 laptops over the past year.
When Apple showed the new MacBook Pros, I actually looked around at the competition, and the Surface Book was one of two laptops that piqued my interest, mainly due to 16 hours of battery life. I had foolishly assumed that I could indeed use it for that long without a charge.
One other thing that completely put me off is its weight.
Tim Bradshaw and Murad Ahmed for the Financial Times:
Microsoft is paying about $250m to acquire London-based Swiftkey, maker of a predictive keyboard powered by artificial intelligence that is installed on hundreds of millions of smartphones, according to people familiar with the deal.
Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, who founded the company in 2008 when both were in their 20s, will each make upwards of $30m from the buyout, which is set to be announced this week.
I have been a SwiftKey user on Android for many years and while the keyboard layout has its own issues, it has one absolutely genius function: the ability to choose two primary languages. This means that the keyboard will auto discover which one we are currently typing in and autocorrect as necessary — there is no need to change the language at all.
I really hope Apple adds this feature to iOS soon — I really miss it, switching between keyboards dozens of times per day. I’m not alone — Federico Viticci also sees this as a problem. The thing is… the technology to overcome this already exists. Please Apple, add it to your to-do list.
Joshua Ho, Brandon Chester & Ryan Smith for AnandTech:
The iPad Pro is arguably the first tablet that I personally want to even consider buying. It isn’t perfect by any means, and there is still a lot of work to be done – seemingly fitting for a first-generation Apple device – but for the first time in a long time it feels like the broader tablet market is advancing once again. If you want a proper tablet that can replace pencil and paper with a keyboard for extended typing sessions, I have no problem recommending the iPad Pro. If you’re hoping for a laptop that can also double as a tablet, I suspect that the Surface Pro 4 will remain the right choice for you.
Having tested both the iPad Pro (which I bought) and the Surface Pro 4 (which I didn’t), I found that the former is a great tablet and can function as a laptop replacement for many, while the latter is a good laptop, which can be used as a tablet, albeit a bad one due to issues with Windows and the lack of quality apps.
P.S. Autocorrect is giving me a hard time today…
ONE OF THE EXCELLENT FEATURES of new Windows devices is that disk encryption is built-in and turned on by default, protecting your data in case your device is lost or stolen. But what is less well-known is that, if you are like most users and login to Windows 10 using your Microsoft account, your computer automatically uploaded a copy of your recovery key — which can be used to unlock your encrypted disk — to Microsoft’s servers, probably without your knowledge and without an option to opt out.
It’s as if they want you to go and get a Mac.
I’ve wanted to write about so many things during these past few weeks, but I never could find the time to get into them. One of those on hold have been my thoughts and first impressions of the Surface Pro 4, which I had on loan for a few weeks. It coincided with the time when I bought my iPad Pro. A few of the more interesting aspects of the two are the keyboards, hardware design and ergonomics of Apple’s and Microsoft’s products.
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