I picked up my Surface Book 2 (SB2) from the UPS Store last Friday and wanted to provide my impressions.
Setup was in the Wow category. You turn on the SB2, connect to WiFi, answer a couple of questions, log into your Microsoft account, and a few minutes later I’m looking at the same lock screen as on my other PCs. This is really a testament to Windows 10 improvements, but when combined with the speed of the SB2 the experience is almost scary good. Next I signed the SB2 up for Windows Insider builds then went back to tuning up the system. I’d expected it would take a day for the Windows Insider build to come through, but it started downloading immediately. That too was an unusually good experience.
One of the most impressive things about the setup process, but also the most confusing, is what to do about Microsoft Office. The SB2 comes with the Microsoft Office apps preinstalled. It also has the Get Office app prominently displayed. As an Office 365 Home subscriber I was left confused on what my next step should be. Do I go to office.com and add the machine, which would trigger an Office 365 install? Do I click on Get Office? That is really counterintuitive given Office is already there. Then it occurred to me that the Office apps already have the ability to log in to your Microsoft Account, and I wondered what would happen if I just did that. I ran Microsoft Word and logged into my Microsoft Account and it automatically configured the SB2 up as one of my Office 365 machines. Basically there is no setup needed for Office 365, just log in. IF you know that’s all you need to do. Next up for Microsoft, find a way to make this clearer.
I’d picked up the SB2 mid-afternoon and, despite having a lot of other things to do that day, by my normal bedtime it was completely ready for use and customized like I’d been using it for months.
Although it has only been 4 days, the SB2 has been rock solid. When I got my original Surface Book a couple of years ago there were signs of flakiness (crashes, failure to sleep, etc.) right out of the gate. I’ll know better in a few weeks, but initial impression is that Microsoft took the reported quality issues in the Surface line to heart before releasing the SB2.
On the batter front I did no formal measurement. What I did was charge the SB2 overnight Saturday and then see how long I could go between charges with just normal use. It was a lighter usage period than normal for me, still it was Tuesday night, with 32% battery still remaining, when I decided to charge again. Even with the original SB I would find colleagues with Macbooks bringing chargers to day-long meetings while I would squeeze by without one. With the SB2 I’d never feel the need to carry a charger with me for the business day. And could easily see myself going a couple of my normal usage days before needing a charge.
One of the original SB complaints was that the screen gave a little too much when you touched it. The SB2 screen seems stiffer, much more comparable to regular notebooks with touch screens. Another complaint was lapability. Since the SB/SB2 “screen” is a full tablet with its own battery it is top heavy. With the SB this meant that if you placed it on a surface with even a slight backward slant, such as your legs when sitting, when you lifted your hands from the keyboard it would fall over backwards. The SB2 seems a little more balanced, but not a lot. If I kept my legs square while sitting then it was great on my lap. But if there was a slant towards the back you could see the front edge of the base unit start to lift up. So you need to be a little careful when using the SB2 on your lap. My lapability rating is “acceptable”, but if you are a heavy lap user there are better options.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with my SB2. Maybe after a few weeks of real use I’ll find something negative to say, but right now it gets a 5/5 star rating from me.
Update (11/23): I realized I used the SB2 on my lap for a few hours last night without experiencing, or even thinking about, it tumbling off. Just want to be clear that lapability really is acceptable.