Microsoft’s original Surface efforts were unique and exciting. I started with a Surface RT and eventually upgraded to the Surface 3 a few years later. On the inside, however, I was never really a true believer in the “tablet that can replace your laptop” form factor Microsoft was pushing. I always preferred the more traditional laptop form factor, with a sturdy keyboard base and a hinge that didn’t spin all the way around.
So when Microsoft announced the Surface Book in late 2015, I was beyond excited. Microsoft was finally building a device that positioned itself first and foremost as a laptop, not a tablet. I got one the second it became available in the UK and used it almost exclusively as a laptop. I would only ever really detach the base to show off to friends.
So imagine my surprise when Microsoft announced the Surface Laptop in 2017. It was as if Microsoft had peeked at my wish list and decided to build the device of my dreams: a true, no compromise laptop. A laptop in its truest form. I picked one up right away and forgot all about my Surface Book until later that year when the Surface Book 2 was announced.
Surface Book 2 announcement
The Surface Book 2 announcement was the first time Microsoft had announced a Surface product that I had no real interest in. I couldn’t think of a reason why I’d switch from the Laptop back to the Book line. The Book line is still a hybrid, with additional features and design choices that I simply don’t prefer.
The Surface Book hinge, for example, is still present. What I don’t like about the hinge is that it makes the device rather thick when closed. That, plus the fact that the Surface Book is top heavy like the Surface Pro, make the Surface Book a terrible choice for a “lap” top PC. While the Surface Book is more “lapable” than the Surface Pro, it most certainly isn’t as lapable as the Surface Laptop. The Surface Book 2 is also heavier, which isn’t preferred when you buy a laptop for its portability.
I recently had the chance to try out the Surface Book 2, to decide for myself whether I’d want to switch back. The short answer is no. Even with the improvements that have been made in Book 2, I still prefer the Laptop.
Why Surface Laptop?
I simply don’t need the extra features or power that the Surface Book provides. The Surface Book 2 has many different models, ranging from relatively mid-range to very high-end. When it comes to laptops, I’m only ever really looking for a mid-ranger, something I can use to do writing or web browsing on when on the go. I don’t do resource intensive work when I’m out and about. For that kind of task, I have a dedicated PC workstation.
Because of this, the Surface Laptop is more suited to my needs. It’s not as thick or as heavy, and it’s a little more stylish in my opinion. It’s small enough to fit into a slim bag without taking up too much room, and it’s also more appropriately priced. The Intel Core i5 7300U with 8GB RAM and 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) Surface Book 2 is $1,499, compared to the Intel Core i5 7200U with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD Surface Laptop which is just $1,299.
I also prefer the aluminum materials on the Laptop over the magnesium found on the Surface Book 2. The two things I do prefer on the Surface Book 2 over the Surface Laptop are the all-metal keyboard base compared to the Alcantara one on the Surface Laptop, and the higher-resolution screen on the Surface Book 2. I’ve had the chance to see both displays side-by-side, so I can see that the display in the Book 2 is much better.
It’s all about your use-case
I just don’t need a tablet. The Surface Book 2’s main benefit is that it’s a hybrid, meaning it can be both a laptop or tablet whenever you need it. You can buy a pen, and use it purely as a tablet if you want, or you can put the pen away and use it just like a normal laptop. For me, the added bulk and weight is not worth that trade-off, but if you’re someone who needs a tablet often, the Book is likely a better choice for you.
It all comes down to this: I don’t buy my “on the go” PCs expecting to do power user-type things. I just want a stylish, clean, and simple laptop. I am not the target demographic for the Surface Book or Surface Pro, and as such, the Surface Laptop is what I prefer and enjoy the most.
Now don’t get me wrong. The Surface Book 2 is a beautiful and well-crafted device. It’s arguably the best Surface Microsoft makes, but it’s just not for me.
Of course, many will need the added horsepower the Surface Book 2 provides, or the ability to detach the display and use it as a tablet. In that case, the Surface Book 2 is absolutely the better choice.