Today I attended Microsoft's press event in NYC. I assume that they wanted me there because I am one of the few photographers who doesn't currently use Apple computers. I was excited to see the new Surface Pro 4, but I wasn't prepared to see a Macbook Pro and iPad Pro killer.
I've been planning on buying a Surface Pro 4. I have a super powerful gaming machine with dual monitors in my office and I have an iPad that I use to surf the web and watch videos, and I have a cheapo HP laptop that I use only when I'm forced to (like right now as I'm writing this in a NYC Barns and Noble).
The Surface Pro 4 would allow me to have a tablet that could replace my iPad and a laptop when I needed to type and it would have enough power for me to edit pictures and videos on the go as well. It seemed like the best option for me.
The guy I was sitting next to at the event happened to be the guy who was actually in the Surface Pro 3 promo that Microsoft played on stage. He uses the Surface Pro 3 on a daily basis for his business and he was convinced it was better than any standard laptop. During the introduction of the Surface Pro 4 he was giddy with excitement. It felt like I was at an Apple event next to one of those crazy Apple fans.
The Surface Pro 4 looked amazing. It has better hardware, 16gb of RAM, 1TB hard drive, a bigger screen but yet a smaller footprint. I was certainly excited but it didn't feel revolutionary to me.
Next they debuted the new Surface Book, a gorgeous laptop with a very unique hinge design. For the next 10 minutes they talked to us about how it was the best laptop in the world and it still had touch and pen capabilities. "But it can do one more thing" they said. I noticed the hinge design seemed strange and therefore I thought the laptop would bend backwards like the Lenovo Yoga. The promo video began to play and then I saw the screen detach from the bottom portion of the laptop. The self proclaimed super fan next to me flipped out and I felt a level of excitement that I have only felt from Apple products in the past. I've never once been excited for a Microsoft product, but today I was and so was everyone else in the room. The product received a standing ovation.
The premise is pretty simple. It's a ultra powerful tablet that can connect to a keyboard base to add both GPU power and battery life. Microsoft claims that it's 2 times more powerful than the Macbook Pro and it has a whopping 12 hours of battery life when it's connected to the keyboard.
When I first saw it I quickly lost interest in the Surface Pro 4, it seemed like the ultimate machine; a workstation, portable laptop, and tablet all in one.
After the event I was able to play with the Surface Book. It was the first laptop that felt like it was made by Apple. I can say that as someone who doesn't use Apple computers but fully appreciates the quality of their design.
The tablet portion of the "Book" easily snaps on and off the keyboard and when it's attached it feels and looks like it's one unit. Both the tablet and the keyboard have their own charging ports so they can work totally independently.
The only flaw that I can currently see is that the tablet portion of the Surface Book can only last for 3 hours on a charge by itself. This is because they wanted it to be as thin as possible and they wanted it to power workstation quality components in an ultra thin package. It's a beautiful product to hold but I can't see that replacing my iPad which can last 10 hours or more on a charge. The battery life alone may make me purchase a Surface Pro 4 over the Surface Book because I assume I'll be using it as a tablet more than a laptop.
You may think that the Surface Book is wildly more powerful than the Surface Pro 4 and that's not entirely true. Both products will have the same processor, memory, and hard drive options. The Surface Book will have a dedicated graphics card. The majority of computer users don't use graphic intensive programs though. I met with Adobe today and they told me that Photoshop and Premiere only use GPU power if you start adding effects and filters, everything else is run off of the processor and RAM.
If you play current video games you're going to want to go with the Surface Book but if you're like me and you spend most of your time in Photoshop and Premiere (doing basic edits) the Surface Pro 4 will have more than enough power.
Tomorrow I have been invited to another Microsoft event and I will get hands on time with every one of their new products. If you have any questions you would like for me to ask them, please let me know in the comments below.