nav search
Data Center Software Security Transformation DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes BOFH

back to article
Microsoft Surface Book: Shiny slab with a Rottweiler grip on itself

Meh

looks much cheaper

than £2k+

8
12
Silver badge

Re: looks much cheaper

£2K, and it will be junk in 4 years.

So, it will be effectively £500 per year to rent, £10 per week.

Anything over £350 is too much unless there is a company budget paying.

13
16

Re: looks much cheaper

I didn't want one of these, I was very happy with my Yoga Pro. Then I saw one in the flesh and boy, they're just lovely.

11
5
Silver badge

Re: looks much cheaper

It doesn't look cheap. But then it doesn't do anything worth doing that a laptop a quarter of the price doesn't do. This is the Audi-VW-SEAT-Skoda model, but applied to PCs instead of cars - they take you for what you can afford, you get to upstage the neighbours with the badge. Whether you see value in this is up to you.

7
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: looks much cheaper

Get a pixel C.

Better in every respect at a fraction of the price.

5
13
Happy

@werdsmith Re: looks much cheaper

Junk already to me... has Win 10 on it,

The "I am happy and I wish to express my content" icon.. because I will never want nor have one.

11
4
Silver badge
Trollface

Re: looks much cheaper

Pah.

Give me a real pre vw Skoda any day.

Built like bloody tanks. And sound like it. But incredibly comfortable.

Happy Favorit owner.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: looks much cheaper

I agree. It looks pretty cheap. The hinge especially (unless it somehow looks massively better in real life than in a pic).

If I was in the market for one of these I'd rather opt for HP Spectre x2. Matter of opinion, but I think the HP actually looks better, has nice(ish) backlit keyboard and is lot cheaper (granted, as I recall it has only 1920x1080 display, but for ~12-13" screen that is quite sufficient.

3
2
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: looks much cheaper @Stupid Coward

Get a pixel C. Better in every respect at a fraction of the price.

No it is not. Go troll elsewhere.

Pixel C is cheaper even with the $150 keyboard addon, but there's not a lot of something that's better:

resolution: 2560x1800 (Pixel) vs 3000x2000 (Surface)

memory: 3GB vs 8/16GB

CPU: 1.9GHz Tegra vs 2.4GHz+ i5/i7

Storage: 32/64GB vs 128/256/512/1024GB

I'd buy neither since both Pixel C and Surface Book seem to be plagued with bad software.

5
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: looks much cheaper @Stupid Coward

Pixel C software is now very good indeed. 6.01 is rock solid, and the jsnky touchscreen issues resolved.

Android N beta is superb, and the full desktop coming soon.....

2
5

Re: looks much cheaper

This is the Audi-VW-SEAT-Skoda model

More like the Maserati model. Looks great, goes great on a track, but does it survive much contact with the real world of speed humps and tyre-sized potholes and multi-storey car park spiral ramps?

2
0
Silver badge

Re: looks much cheaper @Stupid Coward

off topic, I remember having a skoda Estelle 120. It *was* built like their tanks, rear engine rear wheel drive was mucho fun in the wet or dry for that matter. An austin metro disintegrated when it rear ended me at some lights, I don't even think the bumper dented on my car, it had nice big "blocks" on the bumpers, a precursor to parking sensors :) The woman was in tears, I just laughed.

you were lucky to get more than 65 out of it of course, as it was made of pig iron and powered by a lawnmower engine. It also understeered and oversteered (unless you had luggage in the front "boot", then it wasn't fast enough to oversteer). Heating consisted of a number of pipes running to a landrover style radiator and fan, shite in winter, roasting in summer. It frosted more on the inside (there was a cooling leak somewhere in the car) than the outside (I remember spraying deicer on the inside rather than outside one time). The choke was a huge lever that acted as an "idle speed regulator" rather than choke and power steering consisted of a very large steering wheel. Reliability was epic, it took a good 20 seconds to start hail, rain, snow or shine but never broke down on me once. I think the brake drums were made of stone as they never got changed either. If it was advertised as having synchro mesh then they were lieing, double declutching was the order of the day (coming from a land rover this wasn't an issue for me). 1st and third were almost interchangeable too. Reverse was tricky as you needed to be absolutely stationary (not rolling backwards at all).

It ran for a at least 6 months on next to no oil, the oil light had burnt out and was only picked up on the MOT. After 2 years I traded it in for an XR3i (which was stolen after a few months, shame I liked the escort) but I wont forget the fun I had in it, it certainly taught me a few tricks.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: looks much cheaper

Favorit, BAH too new... you need a proper RWD Skoda for real fun, I still class my old 136 Rapid as one of my best cars ever...

0
0

Re: looks much cheaper

Cheaper than the Surface Pro? Sure. Comparable to it? Hardly. If you must compare the Pixel C to a Surface product, than the dead and not mourned Surface RT would be your choice, and you can find that one on eBay for $99 all day long.

2
0

Re: looks much cheaper

Favorit? Puh-leeeeese, go old school, get a 105/120 aka Estelle. Now THAT was comfortable. And noisy.

1
0

Re: looks much cheaper

"It doesn't look cheap. But then it doesn't do anything worth doing that a laptop a quarter of the price doesn't do"

You've seen the 13.5" detachable screen with pen input yeah?

4
0
Silver badge

Re: looks much cheaper

"Microsoft's Surface Book is the most expensive laptop you can get, short of ordering a 24-carat custom gold plated jobbie."

I guess you haven't heard of Alienware? Fully loaded, those laptops can cost over £3K.

1
0

Re: looks much cheaper

The HP has no dedicated PgUp, PgDn, Home, End keys, which makes it NSFW.

0
0

Re: looks much cheaper

I mostly remember the estelle as the car that made my life an utter misery for several years (because, frankly, there were few worse thing about being a 12 year old than being the laughing stock of your entire school year because your parents bought a Skoda.)

0
0

The value of a pen

> But then it doesn't do anything worth doing that a laptop a quarter of the price doesn't do.

There's no laptop with pen input the quality of the Surface at 1/4 of the price. If you value the ability to annotate on PDF images, sketch as you present on a webex, or do artwork while travelling then you need that ability.

1
0

"Except you do get Flipboard and Candy Crush Soda Saga, and possibly some other stuff you didn't want."

Stuff like Windows 10, for example.

33
8
Bronze badge

The real question of course

is the hardware compatible with Mint?

32
6

Re: The real question of course

I don't think so... I've not tried yet to be honest, but given the whole 2nd GPU thing and X11's general inability to deal with unusual configurations it's highly unlikely that it will work - at least not fully. I've had mine since November (got it in North America) and I love it.. It's the only Windows machine I have, with Mint on all of my others... and I'd _love_ to put Mint on it... but I'm putting up with Windows because it generally works and the machine is simply fantastic... I doubt you'd be able to separate the keyboard with Linux so that makes it kinda pointless.

7
3
Coat

Re: The real question of course

Ah, but would that be Extra Strong, or Polo? The latter has a big hole that could be construed as a vulnerability.

Mine's the one with the pound bag of Murray Mints in the pocket.

3
1
Silver badge

Re: The real question of course

Dunno, but put VMWare player on there, install a Mint VM plus VMWare Tools and you'll never know you are working in the guest OS.

4
1
Silver badge

Re: The real question of course

is the hardware compatible with Mint?

I can confirm, from personal experience, that you can disable Secure Boot in the Surface Book's UEFI firmware. If you do so, however, you get a great big red padlock banner at the top of the screen every time you boot - as if to warn "OH MY GOD SECURE BOOT IS DISABLED YOU ARE SO RECKLESS". Haven't tried installing an alternative OS yet but I imagine one might have problems with some of the SB's hardware.

3
1
Silver badge

Re: The real question of course

Probably not Mint, as it's based on the last Ubuntu LTS - you'd probably have more luck with the latest Ubuntu beta.

2
1
Silver badge
Meh

Re: The real question of course

Funny, I was wondering how easy it'd be to nuke w10 and stuff Debian on it.

Seriously? Only 2 usb ports? For this money and spec I'd have wanted at least 4. And an IBM type nipple as an alternatine to a trackpad. (I hate 'em).

And no bloody ethernet? With a machine this fast? Stuck on the bum end of a weak wifi signal that drops out every few seconds? Fail.

Anyone know whether it's got a decent non reflective matt screen?

6
5
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: The real question of course - mints

RTFA

It's already got the big hole - it's called windows 10.

I'll see your bag of Murray Mints and raise you a Fisherman's Friend.

Icon >> Try one.

5
5

Re: The real question of course

The IBM style nipple pointer would be, by far the best input method for a Surface.

Ok, its (nipple pointer) mainly for touch typists, but it saves moving the hands away from the keys to operate the touchpad/external mouse. How Microsoft overlooked adding this to the Surface Book must be down to licencing issues, especially given Nadella's all encompassing approach. (anyone new sitting there interested in computing, still unable to touch type, put some time/money aside, it reaps so many benefits going forward)

Some things might seem 'stylewise' - dated, but if they work and the IBM nipple pointer does, it needs to be there on a product like this.

I never get why an extra few mm to hide that hinge within the casing isn't better than those protruding teeth, they look set up to scratch the screen, if you leave the handheld screen section lying on it. I like Lenovo's Yoga Pro 3's wristwatch strap hinge the best, but its sadly (or rightly) not detachable.

In terms of Linux Mint, old microsoft would specifically design all these; proprietary hinge, dedicated graphic switching options just so it wouldn't be compatible with Linux, but given the release of SQL for Linux, you have to assume, Microsoft are developing compatible linux drivers for these proprietary options, at this very moment ;).

0
0
Silver badge

Re: The real question of course - mints

since our local tobacconist (well, only tobacconist) sells winternips, I have a bag of those with me on Mondays and Tuesdays. Fishermans Friends are not mints, they are in the same category as fiery imps - something to clear your nose in a hurry (or get rid of bad taste).

0
0
LDS
Silver badge

Re: The real question of course

You fail to notice this is a touch device. Often, it's quicker to touch the screen than moving a mouse pointer to reach the screen point you need. Even scrolling/zooming is often easier using gestures than any kind of mouse interaction.

2
0

Re: The real question of course

Nope, my right finger has to move about 10mm to operate an IBM style nipple pointer, Using the touch screen repetitively like that, would be like asking me to operate the indicators in a car from a touch screen head up display, rather than stalks on the side of the steering wheel. Once fine, repeatedly, no thanks, I'll pass on that method.

2
1

Re: The real question of course

The interesting limitation for me is that there is no USB on the tablet -- only on the keyboard. This makes simple storage expansion difficult, and limits your choice of audio devices you could use in an audio conference when you've only brought the tablet because it's lighter and easier to carry when biking somewhere.

0
0

Re: The real question of course

@LDS: totally agree - but a quality MacBook-style trackpad is where this stuff really shines as you don't have to lift your hand away from the keyboard. Sure a touchscreen is excellent for things like drawing and annotation, but for the use cases above it's surprisingly clumsy.

0
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Silver badge

FFS MS...

...will you stop trying to copy Apple already?

(In this case I am talking elevated prices)

9
10

Re: FFS MS...

eh?? Windows tablets date back to the early 2000's

4
7
Silver badge

Re: FFS MS...

"....eh?? Windows tablets date back to the early 2000's..."

I'm referring to over-inflating the prices beyond what you'd reasonably expect to pay for the hardware.

13
1

Re: FFS MS...

Nice edit

0
4
Silver badge

@AceRimmer

This is not a tablet. Maybe a handful of Surface Pro owners use that as a tablet occasionally, but zero people will ever use this as a tablet.

6
1
Silver badge

Re: FFS MS...

Expensive hardware? Cheap hardware's only a relatively recent thing (I still remember my parents forking out £2k for our first pc... by god did I get a bollocking for changing the desktop picture).

As for MS doing hardware worth noticing, they used to have some of the better peripherals for years (I mean seriously... that damn hocky puck, need I go on?)

TL;DR - Just about all sides have produced badly designed, maybe it's time for MS to make something good.

6
1

> and weirdly, an Alt Graph (Alt Gr) key, a throwback to pre-GUI IBM PCs.

No it isn't. It's still very much in use as a modifier key on international keyboard layouts.

17
0
Anonymous Coward

Alt Gr

The angriest key on the keyboard, fact.

16
0
Silver badge

most used to get the euro € too (altgr+4 if you didn't know)

1
0

The keyboard is pretty hopeless for editing text, with the Home/End/Page Up/Down keys sharing function keys F8 - F11, so you're frequently having to toggle or combine with the Fn key, and there's only one Ctrl key.

The clever hinge doesn't allow the screen to be pushed back far enough, so when it's sitting on your lap, the top of the screen is much closer than the bottom, which doesn't help those with presbyopia.

The Edge's scroll bar is very thin, on its high definition display, and contantly disappearing, so drag scrolling is a challenge.

The Surface mouse "scroll wheel" makes an electronic click whenever you touch it, which gets very irritating, and it's all too easy to touch it accidentally, causing whatever you were looking at to scroll out of view.

It's fast and the screen is high quality but, on reflection, I wish I'd bought another ThinkPad.

8
2
Anonymous Coward

The Dance while you wait to get permission to remove a drive/device

Windows has always sucked in this area.

I have just this at the moment. A W7 laptop with a USB3 drive connected. Windows says the equivalent of

'Sorry Dave, I can't let you do that'.

When I tell it to eject the drive.

Yet, there is nothing using it. I've even restarted explorer. Still no joy.

The only solution it to reboot the sodding computer unless I just yank the plug.

Can't they ever get it right? Perhaps I haven't paid homage to Bill Gates often enough?

Never happens to me on Linux (lsof to the rescue) or OSX

15
7

Re: The Dance while you wait to get permission to remove a drive/device

You can just yank it out if you're sure that nothing is writing to it. Since Windows 7, the "Safely Remove Hardware" tray icon is hidden by default for a reason. I'd imagine people starting to use Windows today wouldn't even know it existed.

4
5

Re: The Dance while you wait to get permission to remove a drive/device

"Windows says the equivalent of

'Sorry Dave, I can't let you do that'.

When I tell it to eject the drive.

Yet, there is nothing using it."

Something *is* using it, you just don't know what it is. Sure Windows ought to be better at telling you what is using it and in fact Windows 8.1 onwards does usually tell you.

3
1

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing