Microsoft Surface Book, taking the prize for most expensive laptop and running with it

Subject: Mobile | March 23, 2016 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: surface, surface book, tablet, Skylake, notebook, microsoft, Intel

The Register is not exaggerating in the quote below, the new Microsoft Surface Book ranges from $1500-$3200 depending on the model you chose, passing even the overpriced Chromebook Pixel by quite a sum of money.  For that price you get a 3200x2000 (267ppi) 13.5" display on a tablet which weighs 3.34lbs (1.5kg), the detachable keyboard with an optional Nvidia GPU and an extra battery as well as a Surface pen.  If you want the dock which adds more connectivity options, well that is another $200 and seeing as how there is only two USB3.0 ports, a single MiniDP and an SD card reader on the keyboard you are likely to want it. 

Certainly The Register liked the looks, design and power of this ultrabook but with the competition, up to and including Apple, offering similar products at half the price it is a hard sell in the end.  Ryan expressed a similar opinion when he reveiwed the Surface Book.

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"Sumptuous and slightly absurd, Microsoft's Surface Book is the most expensive laptop you can get, short of ordering a 24-carat custom gold plated jobbie."

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Source: The Register

High-End Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Are Available

Subject: Systems | January 23, 2016 - 02:26 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface, surface pro 4, surface book

The Microsoft Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 launched back in October, and Ryan published a review of them in December. He didn't really make reference to it, but the highest-end model of each were unavailable until a later date. As it turns out, that time is roughly now. I say “roughly” because, while Microsoft has launched the devices, Amazon's landing page doesn't list them, and searching for the product directly shows a price tag of just under $10,000. I assume Amazon hasn't pushed the appropriate buttons yet.

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The only real improvement that you will see, versus the second-highest SKU, is a jump in SSD capacity from 512GB to 1TB. This extra storage will cost roughly 1$/GB, but this is also a very fast NVMe SSD. If 512GB was too small, and you were holding out for availability of the 1TB model, then your wait should (basically) be over.

Although, since you waited this long, you might want to hold off a little longer. Microsoft is supposed to be correcting (some say) severe issues with upcoming firmware. You may want to see whether the problems are solved before dropping two-and-a-half to three grand.

Source: Microsoft

Podcast #380 - Microsoft's Surface Devices, the ASUS X99-E WS. HTC Vive and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 23, 2015 - 11:23 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, asus, X99-E WS, microsoft, surface pro 4, surface book, htc, vive, ECS, LIVA, vulkan, dx12, Mantle, nvidia, shield tablet k1

PC Perspective Podcast #380 - 12/24/2015

Join us this week as we discuss Microsoft's Surface Devices, the ASUS X99-E WS. HTC Vive and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Microsoft

Design - A Tablet and a Notebook

For the last 30 days or so, I have been using both Microsoft's new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 as every day computing devices. The goal was to review these items from not just a handful of days of testing and benchmarking, but with some lengthy time under my belt utilizing both products in a real-world environment. The following is my review with that premise. Enjoy!


A lot has already been said about the design and style of both the updated Surface Pro 4 and the new Surface Book. Let’s start with the Surface Pro 4 as it sees the least dramatic changes from previous product.

The Surface Pro 4 uses the same kickstand tablet design that made the Surface brand so memorable as well as functional.  Many different OEMs are starting to copy the design style because it has a lot of positive merits to it. For instance, it allows viewing angles from nearly 90 degree to flat. The Surface Pro 4 is a tablet in its purest form, though. It doesn’t have a keyboard or trackpad standard – you’ll have purchase the optional Type Cover. It’s only 8.5mm thick and weighs in at 1.73 lbs, without the added keyboard.

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The kickstand works exceptionally, with unlimited positions between the starting and stop point of the hinge, and it allows smooth movement between them. It’s strong enough to stand up when being slid around on the tablet or desk. The biggest concern I have with the kickstand is that using it on your lap (or on an airplane tray table) is difficult to impossible, depending on the exact configuration or your legs / tray. Because the hinged kickstand needs a surface to make contact with, pushing the Surface Pro back on your legs where the hinged portion extends past your knees won’t work.

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From a design and style perspective, I still think the Surface products are among the best that exist on the market today. The magnesium body is sleek and the angles are both professional and aggressive. Even when coupled with the magnetic Type Cover, it won’t look like a toy at the office or on the road.

The new Surface Book is a completely different beast – a unique design and a new product. I am sure that there are some people that simply won’t like the way the notebook looks, but I am not one of them. Though it is technically a tablet and a keyboard dock, the Surface Book only ships as a complete unit so calling this a notebook or a 2-in-1 convertible feels more accurate than calling it a tablet. It has a larger and more pronounced 13.5-in screen than the Pro, which makes it larger, heavier and bulkier in your bag as well. The magnesium body shares a lot of design cues with the Pro 4, but it’s the hinge on the Book that really makes it different than any notebook I have used.

Continue reading our review of the Microsoft Surface Book and Surface Pro 4!!

Microsoft's penitent weekend

Subject: General Tech | December 14, 2015 - 12:22 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Surface Pro, surface book

Along with the apology and reversal of their OneDrive policy, Microsoft has also apologized to customers about several issues that many have experienced with their new Surface Pro and Surface Books.  The complaints started on a forum, as usual, with several users encountering screen flickering when using the devices.  However the complaints quickly spread and even an interim firmware update was unable to resolve the issue.  On Friday Microsoft officially apologized for the ongoing issue which has persisted through numerous updates and promise to have more updates available soon, hopefully one of which will permanently resolve the issue.  The Register also mentions several other issues which users have experienced in their article this morning.

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"Buyers have complained on Microsoft user forums about several faults with the machines since their launch earlier this year, including a "weird screen flicker", slowness in waking from sleep mode and worse than expected battery life. Surface Book"

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Source: The Register

Video Perspective: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Preview

Subject: Mobile | October 27, 2015 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface book, surface, Skylake, microsoft, Intel

In early October Microsoft took the wraps off of a pair of new 2-in-1 convertible notebooks in the form of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. The Surface Pro 4 is much like the previous tablet designs from the Redmond giant and includes a kick stand and optional Type Cover to make the tablet a notebook in terms of functionality. The update kicks up the processor to Intel's 6th generation Skylake design while increasing storage performance with NVMe Samsung SSDs.

pro4-3.jpg

The Surface Book is definitely the more interesting of the two devices with a unique design that is more notebook than tablet/2-in-1. The 13.5-in 3000x2000 3:2 screen tablet is detachable from a base that includes a full keyboard and track pad, additional battery and even an optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce GPU. The hinge is similar to the watch hinge that Lenovo introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and uses something Microsoft calls "Muscle Wire" to keep the tablet and keyboard docked firmly using magnets.

book-3.jpg

Though I am really just getting started on the review process of these devices, I wanted to share a quick overview of both machines. Check it out in the video embedded below.

So what do you want to know about or see specifically tested on the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book? Let us know in the comments below!

Podcast #370 - Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1, New Microsoft Surface products, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2015 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, gigabyte, z170x gaming g1, Skylake, microsoft, surface pro 4, surface book, Android, ios, iphone 6s, Samsung, 840 evo, msata, dell, UP3216Q, nvidia, pascal

PC Perspective Podcast #370 - 10/08/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1, New Microsoft Surface products, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:31:05

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:30:00 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Audible, the world's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 180,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature including fiction, nonfiction, and periodicals. For your free audiobook, go to audible.com/pcper
  3. News item of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan: iPhone 6s Stallion
  5. Closing/outro

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Microsoft Surface Book 2-in-1 with Skylake with NVIDIA Discrete GPU Announced

Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2015 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: video, surface book, surface, Skylake, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, geforce

Along with the announcement of the new Surface Pro 4, Microsoft surprised many with the release of the new Surface Book 2-in-1 convertible laptop. Sharing much of the same DNA as the Surface tablet line, the Surface Book adopts a more traditional notebook design while still adding enough to the formula to produce a unique product.

book-3.jpg

The pivotal part of the design (no pun intended) is the new hinge, a "dynamic fulcrum" design that looks great and also (supposedly) will be incredibly strong. The screen / tablet attachment mechanism is called Muscle Wire and promises secure attachment as well as ease of release with a single button.

An interesting aspect of the fulcrum design is that, when closed, the Surface Book screen and keyboard do not actually touch near the hinge. Instead you have a small gap in this area. I'm curious how this will play out in real-world usage - it creates a natural angle for using the screen in its tablet form but also may find itself "catching" coin, pens and other things between the two sections. 

book-5.jpg

The 13.5-in screen has a 3000 x 2000 resolution (3:2 aspect ratio obviously) with a 267 PPI pixel density. Just like the Surface Pro 4, it has a 10-point touch capability and uses the exclusive PixelSense display technology for improved image quality.

While most of the hardware is included in the tablet portion of the device, the keyboard dock includes some surprises of its own. You get a set of two USB 3.0 ports, a full size SD card slot and a proprietary SurfaceConnect port for an add-on dock. But most interestingly you'll find an optional discrete GPU from NVIDIA, an as-yet-undiscovered GeForce GPU with 1GB (??) of memory. I have sent inquiries to Microsoft and NVIDIA for details on the GPU, but haven't heard back yet. We think it is a 30 watt GeForce GPU of some kind (by looking at the power adapter differences) but I'm more interested in how the GPU changes both battery life and performance.

UPDATE: Just got official word from NVIDIA on the GPU, but unfortunately it doesn't tell us much.

The new GPU is a Maxwell based GPU with GDDR5 memory. It was designed to deliver the best performance in ultra-thin form factors such as the Surface Book keyboard dock. Given its unique implementation and design in the keyboard module, it cannot be compared to a traditional 900M series GPU. Contact Microsoft for performance information.

book02.jpg

Keyboard and touchpad performance looks to be impressive as well, with a full glass trackpad integration, backlit keyboard design and "class leading" key switch throw distance.

The Surface Book is powered by Intel Skylake processors, available in both Core i5 and Core i7 options, but does not offer Core m-based or Iris graphics options. Instead the integrated GPU will only be offered with the Intel HD 520.

book-4.jpg

Microsoft promises "up to" 12 hours of battery life on the Surface Book, though that claim was made with the Core i5 / 256GB / 8GB configuration option; no discrete GPU included. 

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Pricing on the Surface Book starts at $1499 but can reach as high as $2699 with the maximum performance and storage capacity options. 

Source: Microsoft