Personal Computers

Microsoft Unveils Power-Packed Surface Book 2

Microsoft on Tuesday launched the Surface Book 2, positioning it as the laptop of the future.

The device is powerful enough for the next wave of computing, characterized by mixed reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning and immersive gaming, said Microsoft Devices Corporate Vice President Panos Panay.

Integration between the Surface Book 2 and the Adobe Creative Cloud has been improved, and Microsoft’s Surface Dial functionality is coming to Photoshop, the company noted.

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The Surface Book 2 “is a high-ticket computing behemoth designed to demonstrate what Microsoft can do in a vertically aligned package when it flexes its muscles,” said Linn Huang, a research director at IDC.

“Consequently, their story continues to revolve around creatives and gamers,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Touch Is the Differentiator

The Surface Book 2 comes in a 13-inch and a 15-inch version.

The 13-inch Surface Book 2 is powered by either a 7th-Gen Intel Core i5 or an 8th-Gen Intel Core i7 processor; the 15-inch is only offered with the 8th-Gen processor.

The Surface Book 2 uses either an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or 1060 discrete graphics processing unit that provides up to 17 hours of video playback.

The device has a 10-point multitouch PixelSense Display with a 3:2 aspect ratio, and up to 3240 x 2160 pixel resolution. It supports E Ink, Surface Pen, and Surface Dial.

“Apple’s reluctance to add touch to its laptops gives Microsoft a differentiator on the high end,” noted Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

The 13-inch Surface Book 2 weighs 3.38 pounds and up, and the 15-inch starts at 4.2 pounds.

The Surface Book 2 has two full-size USB 3.1 Gen-1 ports, one USB-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, two Surface Connect ports — one in the base, and a full-sized SD card reader.

“The combination of the new Surface features and the tremendous battery life, if true, have the potential to change the way people work with their devices,” Mueller told TechNewsWorld.

The 13-inch Book 2 will be available for pre-order starting Nov. 9. The 15-inch Book 2 will be available Nov. 9 at Microsoft stores in the U.S. and on Delivery will begin Nov. 16.

Pricing starts at about US$1,500.

For the Gamer

Gamers will get a performance boost, thanks to Windows 10 Fall Creators Update’s Game Mode, and access to faster streaming through Mixer.

The Update can handle the most popular PC games at 1080p and 60 FPS. In some cases, it lets the Surface Book 2 match the graphics performance of game consoles like Xbox One.

The 15-inch Surface Book 2 has built-in Xbox One wireless support, so users can pair their Xbox One controllers and compatible headsets for cordless gaming.

Surface Book 2 is ready for Windows Mixed Reality Ultra with the addition of a compatible headset and controller.

Surface Popularity

Surface Book returns hit about 17 percent during the device’s launch period in 2015, and remained above 10 percent for six months, according to a leaked Microsoft memo, as reported by The Verge.

Consumer Reports this summer announced it would no longer recommend Microsoft Surface products because their breakage rates were higher than for most other brands.

That said, “I don’t know that the Surface Book was ever destined to be a smash hit,” said Eric Smith, a research director at Strategy Analytics.

“It’s clearly meant for people who need a lot of power with a minimalist design,” he told TechNewsWorld, such as graphic artists, C-Suite executives, “and perhaps even some gamers uninterested in flashy design.”

With a flagship like the Surface Book 2, Smith suggested, Microsoft “provides guidance to its OEM partners on how to approach the premium market.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.

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