I am a big fan of Microsoft’s Surface line of devices.
The Surface Pro changed the perception that tablet-laptop hybrids need not be underpowered and awkwardly designed.
My humble Surface Pro 3 was my workhorse in school, and it also followed me during my travels.
Thin, light and deceptively powerful, it lasted a few good years for my design and photography work before its specs started to show its age.
Today, Microsoft has set up their own little Surface Store in Singapore, bringing along with it the entire Surface device lineup.
Now here we are today, two Surface Pro generations later. Microsoft’s has since added more devices to the family and all of them are available in Singapore.
I checked out two of them – the Surface Laptop and Surface Book 2
Simply speaking, the Surface Laptop is essentially a Surface Pro with the Type Cover permanently stuck on and made to look like a traditional laptop, as its name suggests.
The same goes for its port selections, exactly the same limited options – minus a micro SD card reader.
That’s not to say that the Surface Laptop is bad. Like the Surface Pro, it is a no-frills premium computing experience.
It has a touchscreen display, the chassis is all aluminium, and the keyboard is lined with Alcantara. The Surface Laptop looks at home in both the office and in a cafe.
Where the internals are concerned, it depends on what you are looking to do with the Surface Laptop.
It starts from a respectable i5 processor, 4GB of memory and 128GB of storage for $1,488 but as you go up in performance it gets really expensive really fast.
The top tier specs with i7 processor, 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage goes for $3,888.
These kind of specs are more than enough to run office apps, and a light creative work like photo editing and simple sketches (the Surface Pen works with the Surface Laptop) but don’t expect to be doing heavy video editing.
While price to performance ratio isn’t great, the Surface Laptop should be seen as more of a fashion statement if anything.
Personally if I were to spend that amount of money on a Surface device I would look at this next one.
Surface Book 2
Where the Surface Laptop is aimed at fashionistas, the Surface Book 2 is setting its sights on creative professionals.
Clearly the Surface Book 2 was designed to compete directly against the MacBook Pro.
Here is a device milled out of aluminium that has a refined industrial design, but with a Surface touch – the ability to separate the screen from the keyboard.
Unlike a MacBook Pro though, the Surface Book 2 still retains the legacy ports that most creatives depend on.
There’s 2 USB type-A ports, SD card reader, a display output, magnetic charger, headphone jack, and for good measure a USB type-C port which unfortunately doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3.
If you are looking at the Surface Book 2, chances are you won’t be looking at the base model, which is on par in performance with the Surface Laptop.
No you are eyeing the 13 and 15 inch models with discrete graphics cards inside them.
The 13 inch Surface Book 2 has a Nvidia GTX 1050 in it, while the 15 inch has a GTX1060.
Gamers will undoubtedly be familiar with them, and like gaming laptops, the Surface Book 2 is ready to run any modern game titles you throw at it.
The true value of the graphics prowess in the Surface Book 2 though lies in their integration with creative applications.
Whether you are editing a video, or running a 3D animation, having a discrete graphics card will accelerate your workflow.
All of the above though only applies if you use the Surface Book 2 as a laptop. Unhinging the device into its tablet form means you’re also disconnecting from the graphics card located under the keyboard.
Microsoft Should Go All Out With Hardware
I’m glad Microsoft are rolling out their own hardware.
I have long believed that tech giants like Microsoft and Google should be making their own devices to better showcase what their widely used operating systems can do.
Google started with their Nexus line in 2010, and they have since evolved to be the Pixel. The very first Surface tablet only appeared near the end of 2012.
Ever since, Microsoft has gradually improved upon it through the years, refining it, and even expanded the family. The Surface Book is the next evolution of the Surface Pro, while the Surface Laptop is a more traditional device.
Then there’s the Surface Studio, an all-in-one desktop computer for creative professionals.
The next step that fans are anticipating is for the Surface to go into smartphones, which to be frank, is unlikely to happen.
The Windows Mobile platform was an embarrassing failure, and with Microsoft hitting their stride thanks to Surface, they are likely to continue releasing more computers instead.