Microsoft Surface Book 2 vs Laptop

For the best PCs on the market look no further than the Microsoft Book 2 and Laptop. I tested out both laptops’ UX and performance for over a month each and the clear winner for me is the Surface Laptop. My criteria is that I was looking for an investment laptop to keep up with my student, design, and engineering needs. Here is what I think of the Book 2 vs the Laptop.

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is pretty much love-at-first sight. It is the first portable computer to ever rival and surpass Apple aesthetic, not to mention on the inside it’s an outstanding computer. It is beautiful, powerful, and multi-functional.

After two months of use however I’ve switched to the Surface Laptop. The first reason for our short marriage is that the Book 2 is too heavy to be realistically portable- if you planned to use it on a stationary basis and use the tablet for on-the-go, then it’s perfect for you. I just can’t be bothered to have an equally heavy laptop (3.62 lb/ 1.640 kg) as the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (at 3.68 lb/ 1.66 kg) that I had just left.

Other design features of the Book 2 left me confused and annoyed. I found the track pad for right and left selecting action to be very loud. The trackpad itself is amazing- large and effortless, but you never realize how much you actually need to right and left click until the sound is that loud. It’s not library friendly and you can’t turn it off (the Surface Laptop does not have this problem).

The Book 2’s tablet detach reaction time was slowing me down- it takes about 3 seconds once you press the detach button on the keyboard to be able to lift off the tablet. You also cannot detach the screen if the laptop is off or asleep. I wish that the detached tablet was thinner and lighter-the tablet is supposed to have good battery life (at the sacrifice of its thickness and weight) but I got low battery warnings after a few hours. When I am using tablet mode, I am primarily surfing the web so a super powerful tablet is overkill, especially since it doesn’t even run all day.

My remaining misc complaints is that the volume buttons are backwards and the headphone jack is awkwardly on the top right corner of the tablet/screen. The bottom right corner would be preferable for both laptop and tablet mode. Lastly, the screen really sticks closed and is almost impossible to lift single handedly. Macs have that beautiful single finger lift that I wish the Book 2 could emulate.

I switched to the Surface Laptop because I wanted a lighter but equally beautiful and high performance computer. It was clear that I’d be staying within the Surface range as there are simply no exciting competitors. The Microsoft Laptop is a traditional clamshell laptop. While it is sad to lose the versatility of a multi-functional laptop, the Surface Laptop wins big in every other way and is not a laptop I will be replacing anytime soon.

The fabric Alcantara keyboard was a shock at first- why couldn’t the it just be a Lite version of the Book 2! — but after using it I was instantly converted. Its understated design oozes sophistication and modernism. More impressively- it is functional and durable. I don’t find that my keyboard gets any dirtier than a regular metal or plastic exterior and it’s supposed to wear well for the life of the laptop. The felt-looking keyboard is always a comfortable temperature and soft where you rest your palms. The computers are offered in 4 very appealing and rich colors, but I stuck with the classic silver.

The 2,256x1,504 resolution display feels much larger than any other screen I’ve experienced on a 13" laptop. The Laptop has a 3:2 aspect ratio as opposed to the standard 16:9. You’ll get more screen area, but the ratio is not optimized for TV and movie viewing (you will get black bars top and bottom) but this does not bother me.

However, the Laptop is not without flaws. If you run, say Illustrator, Edge and Word (which is very typical to my work flow) you will get a low battery warning in about 4 hours. I went into settings and reduced the battery consumption for background apps use and that has really helped my battery life be somewhat closer to the advertised 12–14 hours.

There is only one USB slot and no camera card reader or USB-C. I haven’t run into any problems with this yet as I don’t need multiple ports and my camera has wifi and image-transfer functionality. If your tech landscape is up to par, you won’t miss them but if you do need them adapters are available.

Like other Surface systems, the Laptop has the same proprietary long, thin power connection. I find it slightly awkward to attach to my laptop and the magnets only help a little bit to guide the connector to the laptop properly. Check if the white light turns on before leaving and thinking your laptop is charging.

The Laptop comes with Windows 10 S but I upgraded to regular Windows 10, now called Windows 10 Pro, immediately. Everything is the same except that all apps must come through the Windows Play store, which protects your computer but is a nuisance. It does make the computers suited for schools or institutions, but at a $1,500-$2000 price tag I’m not sure any schools will be blessing their students with this tech.

It was a hard choice to give up the Book 2 but the Laptop is the better model for me. I highly recommend both.

I am a designer-bioengineer innovating in healthcare. I am a certified YogaSculpt instructor and a fitness blogger-photographer. @movementcalling