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Hands-on Surface Book review

nogridbag

Member
I finally had a chance to take a look at the Surface Book.

Display:
I loved the display. It feels very light and thin in comparison to the SP4 - but that's subjective I didn't really compare them side-by-side. I realize it's technically not much bigger than the SP4, but it felt much bigger!

I was worried the hinge wouldn't allow me to tilt the screen far back enough since Panos didn't seem to push it very far back. It can actually tilt much further back than I expected - maybe a bit less than my rMBP. So no issues there.

With the display mounted backwards, the hinge felt easily strong enough to hold it at a nice angle for watching movies (if I didn't want the keyboard in the way for whatever reason, but wanted the dGPU). At a 30-40 degree angle or so (I didn't bring a protractor :)...), the hinge couldn't hold the weight and the tablet slowly lowered into the full collapsed position (drawing position). That's expected of course... there's no kickstand to support it.

I showed the MS store employee how to charge the display while it's detached :)

Keyboard/Touchpad:
Not much to say here. It feels fantastic - similar or better than my 15" rMBP. While I loved the SP4 type cover (especially in comparison to the SP3 version), there's no comparison to the Surface Book keyboard.

Wobble:
I tested the wobble on the table and on my lap. I didn't notice any wobble on the table. On my lap it was perfectly fine for me (I think much better than the Surface Pro - but I've only used the SP3/SP4 in stores so keep that in mind). When I'm typing on my lap I'm never really doing any serious work - usually just casual surfing... so for my use case - NO ISSUE. If you're primarily typing on your lap most of the time and you're ultra sensitive it can't hurt to try before you buy.

Minor Issues:
Undocking the display was simple - but I noticed it didn't show the green on-screen notification until I restarted the device. It makes a satisfying sound and moves slightly so you know you can release it. I found docking the display was actually a bit more difficult. If you left the hinge at a weird angle when you undocked it, you have to reinsert it at that angle. But in practice I don't think this will be an issue - I was undocking and redocking like crazy :) When docking it kind of just slides in. There was no confirmation that it was locked in place (maybe the notification I mentioned earlier was messed up). For instance, the MS store employee was trying to dock it and I noticed it was still not fully seated (maybe 1-2mm out). Good thing he did not try lifting it upside down like Panos did :) I don't believe clicking the release button will "lock" it as another forum member mentioned (though I did not actually try this).

Finally, the only other issue is the SP4 pen can be clipped to the type cover of the SP4 nicely for traveling, but with the SB you will probably put it in your laptop bag separately.

Oddly the Surface Book in the store was an i5 with 512GB of storage (it showed ~450GB of free space). I was digging through the settings/device manager and I couldn't see any reference to the nvidia video card. It's possible their demo unit doesn't have one - but it's been some time since I've used Windows.

I was initially leaning towards the SP4 because that product just seems so polished. I love the type cover and how the pen clips to it. It would be perfect if I traveled frequently. I suppose you can travel with the SB display and charger only, but it would be annoying to type.

But I definitely prefer the larger and lighter screen on the Surface Book along with the better keyboard/touchpad. So I preordered the Surface Book :) My only fear is the additional complexity/lifespan of the hinge with the muscle wire... etc.
 

Moonsurface

Super Moderator
Staff member
Nice review :)

I'd love both the book and the Sp4 but I'm sticking with my Sp3 as I don't actually need both (certainly not both but not even one OR the other as the SP3 does all I need along with my desktop PC).. though I am upgrading to the new version of pen and typecover to update my SP3 and make it feel new again lol.
 

GreyFox7

Super Moderator
Staff member
Nice review :)

I'd love both the book and the Sp4 but I'm sticking with my Sp3 as I don't actually need both (certainly not both but not even one OR the other as the SP3 does all I need along with my desktop PC).. though I am upgrading to the new version of pen and typecover to update my SP3 and make it feel new again lol.
A nice spit shine and that SP3 will be good as new :)
 

Moonsurface

Super Moderator
Staff member
A nice spit shine and that SP3 will be good as new :)
Underneath the Decal girl vinyls it's still perfect, just needs a bit of spit n polish on the screen that's all :)
Ran a 3D mark on it yesterday and it didn't die despite being the "overheating" i7.
 

sharpuser

Super Moderator
Staff member
Very helpful review, @nogridbag .

Besides having an SP3 as my primary device, I am a heavy rMBP 15 (MacBook Pro Retina 15") user, and run OS X and Windows 10/Parallels on it . I often find myself wanting to touch the non-touch rMBP screen (yes, it wobbles when I do). I have ordered the i7/512 Surface Book, which should give me a high performance machine.
 

vsherry

Member
Sharpcolorado, haven't you ordered both the Surface Book AND the new Surface Pro 4? What do you plan to do with your SP3 and your MBP? I wish I had the ability to order both an SP4 and a Surface Book.
 

BearFlag

Member
I did not order a SP4. I'm selling my SP3 through Gazelle, and moving to Surface Book.
Keeping the Apples.
Have you thought about keeping your SP3, getting the new SP keyboard (big improvement), selling your MBP and getting the new XPS15 with infinity display instead. That's one of the options I'm considering.
 

sharpuser

Super Moderator
Staff member
Have you thought about keeping your SP3, getting the new SP keyboard (big improvement), selling your MBP and getting the new XPS15 with infinity display instead. That's one of the options I'm considering.
Will consider that...
 

vsherry

Member
Have you thought about keeping your SP3, getting the new SP keyboard (big improvement), selling your MBP and getting the new XPS15 with infinity display instead. That's one of the options I'm considering.
Outside of 4K, what is the real advantage of selling his rMPB for a Dell XPS 15? I have an rMBP myself. It's late 2013 with 1TB, 2.6GHz Haswell, 16GB RAM. I like the Dell, but that webcam placement seems super annoying. Also, I splurged on a Asus Zenbook Pro UX501 less than two months ago, so I already have a 4K computer. The XPS 15 is attractive, though.
 

BearFlag

Member
Outside of 4K, what is the real advantage of selling his rMPB for a Dell XPS 15? I have an rMBP myself. It's late 2013 with 1TB, 2.6GHz Haswell, 16GB RAM. I like the Dell, but that webcam placement seems super annoying. Also, I splurged on a Asus Zenbook Pro UX501 less than two months ago, so I already have a 4K computer. The XPS 15 is attractive, though.
If you are primarily using MBP for the hardware and prefer to work in the Windows environment then I think the XPS 15 is a nice alternative.

In his particular case he was thinking of selling his more tablet oriented device (SP3), keeping his laptop (MBP) and getting a more laptop oriented device (SB), hence having two laptops. Whereas I was suggesting selling his laptop (MBP) for a newer Windows one (XPS 15), while making improvements to his existing tablet oriented device (SP3) by getting the new keyboard.
 
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unruledboy

Active Member
I can see quite a few people prefer xps 15 as it has bigger screen, 4K resolution, quad cores, and even cheaper than surface book.

but, xps 15 is not detachable, it does not have pen, it's heavier, and most important, it is not surface :)
 
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