The Surface Pro line never made sense to me — it works fine when you’re sitting at a desk, although the type cover keyboard isn’t great and the trackpad was just “functional”. If you are sitting at a desk with an external mouse it could definitely replace your desktop or laptop, but when you’re trying to use it in laptop mode, actually on your lap, it’s really just not comfortable.
And then using it in tablet mode isn’t a great experience because it’s too large to comfortably hold, and there’s a lack of decent touch-capable apps. I ended up using it on the couch with the pen like some sort of comically massive Palm Pilot.
That’s why the new Surface Book was, for me, the most interesting part of the announcement.
Microsoft made a more powerful Surface and created a true high-end, convertible laptop that you can actually use on your lap, or on a desk, or detach the screen entirely to use it as a tablet. When you are using it in laptop mode, it can use a much more powerful graphics processor that resides in the keyboard, and there’s extra battery to go along with it. And there’s an improved pen to help with writing notes in tablet mode.
The most important thing they added was a large glass touchpad that supports multi-touch gestures. The vast majority of Windows laptops out there have absolutely terrible trackpads that you can learn to use, but could never learn to love — which is really sad considering that MacBooks have had amazing trackpads for years now. It’s still not perfect — the laptop ends up being fairly bulky when closed and is a lot bigger than a comparable ultrabook or MacBook, but over time they will release new versions that get better, and other people will copy the form factor just like Apple and Google did with the Surface Pro form factor.
We’re finally at a point where an Apple fan can look at Microsoft’s Surface Book and get jealous of the hardware instead of the other way around.
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