A month with the Surface Book 2: Day 1

Microsoft has recently released the Surface Book 2 13-inch in UK (the only version available here) and has sent me a loan unit for a few weeks.

I’m not a habitual Surface user, preferring what I feel is better value for money from the products by 3rd party OEMs, but let’s see over the next few weeks if Microsoft can convince me it’s better to get your PC directly from the source.

My day to day laptop is the 2016 Lenovo Yoga 900, which has always seduced me with its unique watchband hinge.  I have purchased the last 2 generations of that laptop and was planning to spend Christmas with the Yoga 920, until I realized the lack of a dedicated GPU would mean no support for Windows Mixed Reality.  The Surface Book 2 is therefore definitely on my list, and if you are considering WMR should be on yours too, so follow along for my first impressions.

On unboxing the laptop, the first impression is of a solid, luxurious device, that is somewhat heavy, but in a good way that suggests high build quality.

I am not, however, sure I am a fan of the brushed metal finish, which seems prone to picking up smudges. The shiny orange magnesium alloy of the Lenovo Yoga is somewhat more to my taste, but the aluminium of the Surface Book 2 does certainly look more business-like. The hinge is somewhat difficult to open, which is a minor but persistent negative. Hopefully, this will loosen up over time.

When separated out as a tablet the screen portion impressed me with how thin and light it is however, despite its massive screen size, and it is clear to me the weight penalty is all due to the extra batteries in the base unit, which I think for many is a price clearly worth paying. Even in early reviews, the laptop is becoming a legend for battery life, and given that this has always been a weakness for Windows laptops this may be a very good trade-off. Given how light the screen portion is I can actually imagine using it as a tablet, something I was not expecting.

In terms of the smaller details, the power cord is on the longer end and made of a soft and flexible rubber, the Surface Connector snaps reassuringly into the charging port.  It might just make me forget about USB-C charging.

Windows Hello worked impressively fast, but I was surprised that I was not prompted to set it up on startup (this may be a review unit issue).

The Surface Pen adhered very firmly via magnets to the side of the left edge of the screen or right side of the base, but not anywhere else which is somewhat disappointing.

Out of the box, the laptop ran the Creators Update rather than the Fall Creators Update, so the last few hours have been spent downloading and installing updates. This is somewhat surprising for a device received directly from Microsoft.

Along with the Surface Book 2 I also received the Surface Dial and Surface Pen. I still have to find a good use for these accessories, but stick around and see if they come indispensable over the next few weeks.

Both the new Surface Book 2 models are now available for order in the US here. Consumers in the UK can order the 13-inch version of Surface Book 2 here. Microsoft is also offering a trade-in program to make the £1499 price more palatable. Read more about that here.

If you have any questions about the laptop you want answered leave them in the comments below.

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