Here’s the big, fat truth: the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has higher performing specs but is not that much different than its Surface Pro 3 older sibling (the 4 is lighter, slimmer and has up to 9 hours of battery life, but hey, it’s still a tablet; you’re limited to what you can stuff in there). This would be an awfully short, if not pretty vanilla, if we stopped there. But, lucky for you, we’re just getting started because the real news is the Surface Book, a very different tech tool that stands alone among its peers.
Here’s the rundown. The Surface Book has bigger screen real estate – 13.5 inches. The bend – where the tablet and keyboard meet – is super nice and lends itself to three different configurations. You can detach the screen (yep, like a big, flat Lego piece) and use it as a tablet (Microsoft calls it a portable clipboard, remember those?). You can even configure the Surface Book to work in “pen first” mode by turning the screen around and reattaching it to the keyboard (it looks like it’s doing a backflip) for creative work. Oh, and by the way, it’s a laptop workhorse too with a full-sized, backlit keyboard.
For sure, you’ll like the Windows 10 operating system with its full suite of Office products. Unlike tablets, you’re not limited to the app store menu. Plus, you’ve got 13.5 hours of battery life – plenty of time to download and use all your favorites.
The Surface Book smokes the competition, outperforming models like the Surface Pro, the Toshiba Radius and Dell XPS. Now, for technology to earn high marks, it has to be seamless within the context of my life. If I’m propped up in bed working late, the Surface Pro digs into my leg and the keyboard doesn’t stay firm. Not so with the Surface Book which is portable and lightweight. For Apple-onians, the Surface Book sports the laptop feel of a MacBook Pro with a side of iPad. A quick cost comparison (features include Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256 solid state hard drive on each) puts the Surface Book at $1,899, the Dell Latitude E7450 at $2,000, and the Surface Pro 4 at $1,299.
If you’re considering a new laptop, the big question is: Will this next device support my applications and will it help me be more productive? A client called recently, toying with the idea of getting something new after experiencing a couple hardware issues with his Dell laptop. “What do you think?” he asked me. My answer came in the form of questions. What vendors should we talk to ensure application compatibility? Is it important to work on multiple screens? What size screen lends itself to your type of work? How important is a touch screen to you? The key is finding out what is important for each individual user.
The Surface Book is a radical departure from the standard arsenal of tech tools. I’ve actually had clients, both curious and hopeful, say: “Will it work?” They’ve been to the stores and seen the ads. My answer: Yes, it’s just a different way to interact with your technology. The Surface Book is a tablet and laptop fusion that offers small business professionals great versatility and style.
Frank Anderson is director of operations for 3Points. Solution-minded by nature, Frank is passionate about enhancing innovation in the small business environment and has deep experience in more than 25 technology specialty areas.