Microsoft Surface Book 2 review: A Surface for all seasons

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By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
The Nation

The new Microsoft Surface Book has everything you could possibly need in a computer

After a long wait, Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 has finally arrived in Thai stores and is already delighting shoppers wanting a sleek, powerful notebook computer that can turn into a tablet computer at the press of a button.

And it literally is with the press of a button, as all you need do it press on the dynamic fulcrum hinge and latch and pull out the tablet.

Surface Book 2 13-inch comes in a lightweight strong aluminium body and with a full-sized keyboard.

Because of its detachable design, Surface Book 2 can work in four modes  laptop, tablet, studio and view.
Surface Book 2

In the laptop mode, the Surface Book 2 becomes a sleek, portable powerhouse with up to 17 hours of battery life and allows you to work with professional-grade software on the full keyboard, trackpad, and touchscreen.

In the tablet mode, the PixelSense display is detached to transform it into a thin, powerful Intel Core i5 or i7 tablet computer.

The studio mode can be achieved by detaching the display and flipping the display outside before reattaching it. Then, you fold the display on the keyboard with the display facing up instead of the back cover. This mode allows you to draw and sketch comfortably and naturally using the optional Surface Pen.

You turn the Surface Book 2 into the view mode in a similar way, pushing a button to detach the screen then turning it around and reattach it. This time though, you don’t fold it down. This mode is for sharing content and presentations.

Surface Book 2

There are several models of Surface Book 2 computers with different display sizes, processors, graphics adapters, and working memory and storage capacities.

The entry level powered by 7th Generation Intel Core i57300U processor and comes with 13.5-inch PixelSense display as well as Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated GPU. The top model uses 15-inch PixelSense display and is powered by 8th Generation Intel Core i78650U quadcore processor and a very powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 discrete GPU with 6 GB GDDR5 graphics memory.

If money isn’t a problem, go for the top model, which will allow you to play graphics-extensive games or crunch a lot of data in engineering and graphics applications, like Autodesk Revit and Adobe Premier Pro. Or use it to design 3D models with CAD. The more you pay, the more powerful the computer you get.

Surface Book 2

I got to try the entry level 13.5-inch Surface Book 2, which may not be powerful enough to handle engineering and graphics applications but is great for business applications like Microsoft Office making it suitable for students.

The model I tried is powered by dualcore 7th Generation Intel Core i57300U processor running at 2.6 GHz. It comes with 8 gigabytes working memory or RAM and it is installed with 256 GB PCIe SSD storage. It runs on 64bit Windows 10 Pro operating system.

Since it uses integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU that shares the RAM for graphics memory, it may not be powerful enough to play graphics extensive games.

Surface Book 2

But I found that business applications, like Microsoft Office including Word and Excel ran fast and smoothly.

And it has a great display with 3,000 x 2,000 pixel resolution in 1600:1 contrast ratio. The display is great for viewing high-resolution photos and HD video clips.

The Surface Book 2 13-inch is also highly portable. As a laptop, it weighs about 1.533 kilograms and as a tablet only 719g. Moreover, when used as a laptop, the Surface Book 2 13-inch has a battery life of up to 17 hours.

The backlit, full-size keyboard is convenient and comfortable to type on. And its ultra-precise glass trackpad allowed me to quickly and conveniently control the cursor and interact with the apps.

Surface Book 2

Since the display is a touchscreen, you can also interact with applications using your fingertips. But for more accurate interaction, buy the Surface Pen and have fun sketching writing and erasing. Moreover, Surface Pen has tilt for shading and virtually no lag — just like drawing on a sheet of paper – on sketching applications, like Microsoft OneNote and Autodesk’s AutoCAD.

The Surface Book 2 comes with 2 USB Type-A 3.1 ports, one USB Type-C port, one full-size SDXC card reader, and one 3.5 mm headphone jack.

For Internet connection, it has 802.11 ac Wi-Fi adapter that worked fine and fast when connected to my 802.11ac home router.

It has 5 MP 1080p webcam and 8 MP 1080p rear camera.

The Surface Book 2 played good quality music using stereo speakers and Dolby Audio Premium setting. The sound system also comes with Dolby Atmos for headphones.

The Surface Book 2 13-inch with Intel Core i5, 256 GB SSD, 8GB RAM, and Intel HD Graphics 620 retails for Bt54,900.

KEY SPECIFICATIONS: Surface Book 2

– OS: 64bit Microsoft Windows 10 Pro

– CPU:  Intel Core i57300U 2.6 GHz

– GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated GPU

– Memory: 8GB RAM

– Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD

– Display: 13.5-inch PixelSense Display touch screen with 3,000×2,000 pixels

– Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth Wireless 4.1

– Ports: 2x USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen1), 1x USB Type-C w/ video, power in/out and USB 3.1 (Gen1) data, Full-size SDXC card reader (UHSII), Headphone jack (3.5mm), 2x Surface Connect ports (1 in tablet, 1 in keyboard base)

– Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer

– Cameras: 5.0MP 1080p video @30FPS (front), 8.0MP 1080p video @30FPS with autofocus (rear)

– Battery: Up to 17 hours

– Dimensions: 312x232x1323mm (LxWxD)

– Weight: 1533 g (laptop) 719g (tablet)

The Nation
Republished with permission from The Nation
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