For the purposes of this article, the $1,999 version of the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 (8th-gen Intel i7 quad-core processor, discreet NVIDIA GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) is being compared to the $1,999 version of the 13-inch 2017 MacBook Pro (7th-gen Intel i7 dual-core processor, shared GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD). One can find discounted deals on both of these devices for as low as $1,799.
You have to hand it to Microsoft. The original 13.5-inch Surface Book, released in October of 2015, was a horrific mess. Microsoft must have a good PR team; the device should have created one of the biggest tech failure scandals ever.
People basically paid over $2,000 (some close to $3,000) for a device that had problems with extreme backlight bleed, the screen not detaching from the base, video driver problems, touchpad problems, etc. Microsoft eventually fixed many of these issues with updates. But the damage was already done, and many upset Microsoft customers said they would never buy a Surface Book again.
Now, let’s fast forward to this week as the Surface Book 2 goes on sale. You can find many formerly disappointed owners of the original Surface Book who have given the updated device a try and don’t regret it. Tech Radar, who gives the 13.5 inch Book 2 four-and-a-half stars, compliments its premium design and excellent features.
Perhaps the best feature of the Surface Book 2 is its battery life. When streaming movies over Netflix on repeat with brightness levels set at 70 percent, Microsoft’s new Surface Book has produced over 10 hours of battery life, which is the most ever for a notebook of this size. The detachable screen provides five hours of battery life, which is excellent for a device so thin and powerful.
Speaking of the screen, Microsoft has created a Quad HD+ screen that shows excellent details and has crisp colors. However, even though the 13-inch MacBook Pro only has a 227 PPI screen (compared to the SB2’s 267 PPI), Apple’s notebook has better color accuracy and a better contrast ratio. Luckily, the Surface Book 2 device that’s being tested doesn’t have any noticeable light bleed like other recent Surface products.
The MacBook Pro feels more like an ultra-portable than the Surface Book 2. However, some may not mind the extra weight of the Surface Book 2, especially because it provides the best keyboard currently available on a notebook. Apple’s butterfly keys are easy to get used to, but once you type on a Surface Book 2, your fingers won’t want to go anywhere else.
The MacBook Pro provides a better trackpad experience, but Microsoft is inching closer to tying Apple. However, Microsoft provides a touchscreen, which adds a little glare to the device. Apple provides a touch bar, but it is perhaps the most gimmicky feature ever put on a laptop. Microsoft’s screen can be used with a digital pen (an optional Surface Pen costs $99) and makes a great writing tablet when detached. You won’t get the same smooth experience inking on the Book 2 as you do on the iPad Pro. Then again, the iPad Pro isn’t even close to being a desktop competitor.
Those of you who are annoyed by what is defined by whistling fan noise known as “coil whine,” which is described at Lifehacker, will be upset to know that it makes its return to the Surface Book 2 in a noticeable way. Unlike the MacBook Pro, the Surface Book 2 can get somewhat noisy. However, this isn’t a deal killer since the noise only comes when you are using a lot of apps that really push the processor. You will only notice the noise in very quiet situations.
But the noise is worth the power the Surface Book 2 provides, which is like having desktop power in a laptop. The MacBook Pro is also pretty powerful for its size, and it runs just as fast as the Surface Book 2 while doing most tasks. The obvious difference comes when using processor-heavy apps such as Photoshop. In terms of editing 4K videos, the Surface Book 2 does this with only a few hiccups. The MacBook Pro is capable of editing 4K videos using Final Cut Pro, but the process is tedious.
If you are stuck in the Apple ecosystem, moving to a Surface Book 2 may seem like an awful technological sin. But the latest version of Windows 10 (Fall Creators Update) runs almost as smoothly as macOS High Sierra. If you open your mind and give even 10 minutes of your time to using the Surface Book 2, you’ll be shocked. Yes, for the first time ever, Microsoft has made a better notebook than Apple ever has.
[Featured Image by Daryl Deino]