I walked into the Microsoft Store in Yorkdale on a Wednesday evening with money to spend, and I was going to walk out with a new device. The question was… which one?
A couple of months ago Microsoft announced two new devices: The Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book. The Pro4 looks a lot like its predecessor the Surface Pro 3, and while it has the next generation Intel CPU and the higher resolution camera, the truth is it was not significantly different from the 3. Yes, it is a slightly nicer machine, but nobody who does not work in marketing at Microsoft would call the SP4 a revolutionary change, something monumentally different and better than the SP4.
The Surface Book, on the other hand… that was something new. Unlike the Surface Pro (which is a tablet hybrid), the Surface Book is a true laptop… that can convert seamlessly into a tablet. Batteries on both sides, a cool hinge, and when you press the button and the light goes green, you can pull the screen away from the keyboard and use it like a tablet.
When I walked into the store I had not quite made up my mind… but then I did not really have a lot of experience with either device. So I asked the very helpful staff to show me the new devices.
I liked the Surface Pro 4 for many reasons, not the least of which was comfort. I had gotten used to the Pro 3 over the last eighteen months, and the 4 was just an improvement on that platform.
We went over to look at the Surface Book, and a couple of things bothered me about it. Yes, it has the SD Card slot to expand your storage… but that slot is in the keyboard, which means that once you disconnect, you have to stick to your hard disk. The USB slots were the same… okay, I suppose it makes sense – when in Tablet Mode you shouldn’t really need the vast storage and expansion devices… except, when I download movies and music and books to my device they go on the SD Card because that is how I like to keep things organized.
In truth, that wasn’t that big a hit against the device… even with that knowledge I was still thinking about it. And then…
My Surface Pro 4, with the Intel Core i7 CPU and the 256GB of storage (with 8GB of RAM) runs about $2,099 (Canadian Dollars). That is a lot of money, and if I did not need the horsepower I would never have spent it. The base model of the Surface Book (with the Core i5 CPU and 128GB of storage) starts at $1,949… $150 less. Of course, when you consider you have to add another $179 for the keyboard for the Surface Pro, it is actually $329 less than the Surface Pro 4.
But that is the base model. The comparable model Surface Book (with the Core i7 and the 256 GB storage) costs $2,799 – a little over $500 more than what I spent (including the keyboard). Now, I am sure there are benefits to the more expensive machine… but the costs for me would not stop there. I would have to replace my docking station ($250 or so), and all of my accessories (chargers, etc… that I have from the Pro 3 that I can use with the Pro 4). It just wasn’t worth the cost to me.
Let me be clear: I am not writing a review of the Surface Book; I have not spent enough time using it to do that. I am just enumerating the reasons why I made the decision that I did – the Surface Pro 4 is a great device, and while I would have liked to have more memory (the 16GB version with the same storage and CPU is only $400 more than mine, but I did not want to spend the money), what I have is enough… for me. For now.
Now, if my next contract requires that I have the larger memory and storage capacity, then who am I to refuse? For what I do today and for what I envision needing the system for going forward, I envision being quite content with this device for at least the next eighteen months (which, if you look at my history, is how long I should expect to be using it).
What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them!