4 years with a Surface Book – already angry today? Part 3

Welcome to the third part of my ordeal with the Surface Book. Without much preamble, we’ll get right into it.

Disillusionment part 5: the Windows Time Machine Clone.

I really liked Time Machine on my old MacBook. It always worked smoothly, in my case with a network hard drive. With Windows 10, there would theoretically have been something similar, but after just a month I gave up. It worked a maximum of once or twice with the network hard drive, then there were only error messages, but no more backup.

The disillusionment part 6: Fan.

It felt like the fan started at every little thing. And so I spent many hours with an annoying noise on the desk. My self-assembled desktop computer runs so quietly even under load that I can listen to music alongside, together with my Surface Book this was not possible at all. This was not a problem with the MacBook before, it got warm but never loud.

The disillusionment part 7: the audio quality.

My MacBook never had problems with a trouble-free playback of audio files. The Surface Book, on the other hand, always produced a permanent, clearly perceptible noise – regardless of whether with or without the docking station – so that undisturbed music enjoyment at work was not possible. Especially not with the loud fan. For the preparation of my THD DJ course, I always had to use my desktop computer, which was quiet. Apparently, Microsoft developers never listen to music. Nevertheless, my Surface Book was shown on the Microsoft website 4 years ago together with a DJ. In the context of audio performance, I could always have a good laugh at this depiction. It was probably a futile attempt to position the product similarly to a MacBook.

Disillusionment part 8: the quality of the device itself.

The quality of a MacBook is indisputably great. Nothing bends, the screen has a straight line, the device is simply super stable. The Surface Book, on the other hand, is definitely not worth its price. The tablet-panel showed a clearly visible bend at the upper edge. Should not really happen in this price range.

These were the main reasons for switching back to the Mac. Beyond that, there were many other minor annoyances that ultimately led to the switch. Now I’m happy to give the Surface Book back to our lab engineers at the THD after the move. Finally, here’s a three-month field report on how my new MacBook is working.

Stay tuned, more stuff is on the way.

4 years with a Surface Book – already angry today? Part 2

Welcome to the second part of my ordeal with the Surface Book. Without much preamble, we’ll get right into it.

Disillusionment part 2: tablet and laptop? Really?

The second reason for me to buy the Surface Book was the possibility to use the tablet independently from the keyboard. However, this was often associated with error messages, the operating system usually complained about an unstable connection when re-connecting the tablet. The usual solution with Windows: shut down and restart, sometimes awkwardly delete the drivers from the device manager and have them reinstalled. The main reason why I almost never used this feature in the end was the battery life of the tablet part. After 2 to 3 hours at most, the stove was off. My 349 euro iPad runs a complete day during intensive use. Minimum.

Disillusionment part 3: the performance of the Surface Book.

My Surface Book has a Core I7, theoretically the basis for a fairly high-performance device. Wrongly thought, the Surface Book was surprisingly slow in many things and that from the start. Whether this was due to the operating system or the hardware, I definitely cannot say. But what was interesting to me was that my favorite Dragon NaturallySpeaking software worked faster and smoother in a test with my now 8-year-old MacBook in a Parallels Windows 10 virtual machine than it did in the Surface Book. How embarrassing is that?

The disillusionment part 4: Windows 10 itself.

While Windows 10 worked amazingly well on the Surface Pro, on the Surface Book it had random dropouts, especially when combined with the docking station. The LAN connection disappeared at regular intervals, switching between the high-resolution screen and my stationary monitor did not work until the end. The operation with pen and fingers also showed quite clearly that Windows 10 is still more of a desktop operating system and less of a tablet operating system. You always come to a point where you need a mouse or a keyboard, quite in contrast to the iPadOS.

On top of that, the OS still has a problem with high resolution monitors. I was so often annoyed when all of a sudden an app appeared in a micro-window with micro-font. Sometimes the start menu disappeared in nirvana or only 200 pixel large single letters appeared. The same principle over and over again: log out and log in again or restart immediately. Simply annoying.

In the next days the third and final part will come, stay tuned.

4 years with a Surface Book – already angry today?

Macbook vs. Surface Book

4 years ago, I started a new 4-year relationship with a business notebook full of joyful expectations. I was happy to get rid of my business MacBook and eagerly awaited the first generation of Microsoft’s Surface Book. At that point, the press was just gushing with excitement. Some editors even used the term MacBook killer. Based on the articles, it was clear to me that this device was exactly the laptop I had always been waiting for. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, but now there will be no spoilers. On the contrary, we’ll start with my (joyful) expectations.

The starting point and my expectations

I was always looking for a computer that could be operated with a pen. I like to draw, and I wanted to be able to correct study papers, drafts for articles, etc. myself in the computer, thus saving the environment by not having to print them. In 2012, I enthusiastically jumped on the Apple bandwagon and bought an iPad, but the pen operation didn’t really work well, as it was never really provided for by the manufacturer in the first generations.

Therefore, I flirted with the Microsoft competition, the Surface Pro. At the beginning, it was rather a disaster, but in 2016, the device seemed mature enough for me to give it a try. Let’s keep it short, I wasn’t 100% thrilled, but in the computer industry, you can already be happy if 80% is achieved. Windows 10 worked surprisingly well, the pen usability was okay. Therefore, the expectations regarding the Surface Book were quite high: a tablet PC and a notebook, and pen-operated as well, what more could you want. I also hoped that I could finally escape the Windows bellyache on the MacBook. Shortly before the end of the summer term 4 years ago, the time had come, the Microsoft MacBook killer was lying on my desk in a very fancy package. When unpacking it, my anticipation knew (almost) no bounds, especially with the list price of about 2900.- Euro.

Disillusionment part 1: where is my pen?

Disillusionment set in relatively quickly. While the deviation of the expected pen position to the actual position was relatively small on the Surface Pro, it was sometimes up to 5 millimeters on the Surface Book, depending on the app and the day’s mood. Drawing was impossible, and sketching, writing, and correcting was always a vabanque game and source of perpetual annoyance.The starting point was sometimes too far up, too far down, too close to the previous word or too far away from it. After a year and a half, I stopped searching the Internet for calibration options and silently simmered away.Most annoying were the failed calibration attempts, which usually ended with me having to uninstall all the drivers in Device Manager and reboot it.

In 2019, I bought the first affordable iPad with stylus controls and was really excited because the expected position of the stylus matched the actual position of the stylus 100%. The entry price of the Apple tablet was about €450 with stylus and everything worked on the first try. The list price of the Microsoft product was 2900 €. My iPad has already got a successor in the meantime, the iPad Air 2020. I never had to calibrate, the pen was always where it should be as expected. Actually, I should sue Microsoft for loss of life.

More in a few days, stay tuned.