The Surface Book 2 has just been announced and at first glance, it seems to fix most of the issues of it’s predecessors, including last years refresh and the original model. Microsoft have increased the specification of the latest Surface Book quite drastically, with the Macbook Pro being it’s main competitor. They have introduced a stronger hinge so there’s no more screen wobbling, more powerful hardware and an extra variant model to accommodate.
Last years refresh from Microsoft was a tad outdated – For instance, Microsoft’s Head of Industrial design for Devices, Ralf Groene, swayed his team to use USB Type-A, backing up that idea by saying more people use it than Type-C. In retrospect, I hope they know this was one of it’s many downfalls.
But back to the present day and the team over at Microsoft seem to have made a real competitor with this iteration of the Surface Book. The Surface Book 2 sports a smooth and striking metal surround, finished in a matte grey colour, which shouts top tier and looks very premium. You can also hit a button on the keyboard to “unlock” the screen to remove it and use as a tablet. Alternatively, you can just flip the display around and plug it back into its base to use the laptop in “studio” mode. This is common in two in one notebooks, and a couple of Chromebooks but unfortunately you’re unable to flip the screen a full 360 degrees.
With the Surface Book 2 comes an updated display hinge – People who got to test the laptop out at the conference said they found it much more sturdier than before and they even felt it was easier to type on. They also mentioned, ironically, that the display was even easier to remove than before. disconnecting the display and keyboard base works much more smoothly, thanks to it’s improved connectors which mount the two together. However, the hinge on the Surface Book 2 still has that same old bump to it’s profile, making it a little less attractive and contemporary.
Microsoft announced two iterations of the Surface Book 2 – A 13.5-inch model and a 15-inch model. Both variants come bundled with more than enough specs to solidify Microsoft’s competition. The 13.5 inch model is supplied with a 3000 x 2000 display, a seventh-gen dual-core i5-7300U, 8GB of RAM and integrated graphics. The smaller 13-inch Surface Book 2 weighs in at 3.38 pounds or 3.68 pounds, depending on if you’re getting integrated graphics or the upgraded Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 version. Apple’s slim 13-inch MacBook Pro is a mere 3 pounds
The 15-inch laptop comes with a 3240 x 2160 display, an eighth-gen Intel Quad-Core i7-8650U, 4.2GHz “max turbo”, 16 GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. Both models are eligible for upgrades, including more storage and a beefier CPU on the 15-inch laptop. While the 15-inch Surface Book 2 is slightly heavier than the comparable MacBook Pro — 4.2 pounds versus 4.02 pounds – it still feels easy to hold. And for many, the additional weight will likely be worth it for more powerful graphics.
Unfortunately, Microsoft have still decided to use USB-Type A, with the addition of a USB-Type C port too – I suppose there is some light at the end of the tunnel. They also share Bluetooth 4.1, a claimed 17-hours battery life, a 5 megapixel front camera, 8 megapixel rear camera, Dolby Atmos and a back lit keyboard.
As you’d expect, both Surface Book 2 laptop’s look to be a multi-tasking dream – You’ve got Intel’s new eighth-generation CPUs and their improved graphics to thank for that. Microsoft seems to have hit the nail on the head as they can keep up to par with the MacBook Pro’s, plus they’re also more port friendly than the Apple flagships, with two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a single USB Type-C connection and an SDXC card reader.
Additionally, Microsoft will be pushing out their new Surface Pen – It originally rolled out with the Surface Laptop, and it works just as well on these new machines. The pen has little to no lag and almost feels like you’re writing with an actual pen and paper.
Microsoft have not released any details about the pricing yet, however, they’ll start at $1,499/£1,499 for the Core i5 13-inch model with integrated graphics and $2,499 for the 15-inch model. If this isn’t enough for you, be prepared to spend a bit more on the upgraded versions of the Microsoft Surface Book 2.