I purchased it in late January, but delivery was delayed until late February. I did not really start using it until late March, and only made it my main machine in April, replacing my old MacBook Pro Retina 15" mid-2014. Reason for delay in starting to use: projects at work - the delay in shipment missed a window of opportunity.
I suspect that delivery was delayed because I wanted the 1TB SSD. To be honest, I actually wanted to purchase an ordinary, non-book Surface with a 1TB SSD, but that seems not available. :-(
Pre-Purchase RationaleWhy 1TB?
- This is my main machine. I am not a big streaming video user or anything like that, but I do play around with OSes:
- I am currently using 461MB, Windows, Cygwin, and I have barely started, not fully installed, Ubuntu / Windows Subsystem for Linux
- On my MacBook I had 756MB in use. Much of that was the Parallels VM to run Windows apps like FrameMaker. I was able to reduce dramatically, when I migrated.
- Nevertheless, buying a new laptop with a fraction of the diskspace seems retrograde, a time-waster
- I hate disk wars
- Do I really need to explain?
- I did consider non-SurfBook convertibles, some with 1TB rotating disk. I could not find a reasonable hybrid configuration with a "large enough" SSD cache.
- No touchscreen for MacBook. I love touch, I love tablet, I love pen. I considered the MacBook with TouchBar, but it is not big enough, and apparently not easily customizable
- Work makes me use Windows, for FrameMaker in particular. Using the Parallels VM was always a hassle.
- Similarly, Microsoft Outlook runs better on Windows, even though available on Mac and iPhone. Features such as conversation mode are only fully supported on Windows.
- I will miss MacOS being a real Unix-family OS. Historically I have used Cygwin on Windows, but within the first few days it was obvious how much slower Cygwin was for things like starting shells than MacOS. Hence my interest in Ubuntu / Windows Subsystem for Linux, although its unsupportedness is a worry.
- I want touchscreen/tablet. I like pen.
- Windows definitely seems to be the leader in convertible laptop / touch tablet. Especially Microsoft Surface and Surface Book, but also other Wintel manufacturers like Dell and HP.
- ChromeBook not available as a convertible tablet, AFAIK. Who wants a touchscreen clamshell that cannot act as a tablet?
- Uncertain how good Linux support for touchscreen convertibles is. I will probably try when this SurfBook nears EOL.
- I frequently use my machine without network connectivity. It must be freestanding.
- I really, Really, REALLY want a portable computer that I can do use for real work on an airplane in economy. (Not a problem for rich people who can fly non-sardine classes.)
- The problem is the touchpad, which adds 3-4 inches of mostly unnecessary depth.
- Certainly not my 15" MacBook. Even 13" clamshell not so good.
- Whereas with a tablet I can fold away the keyboard, and get stuff done. Screen keyboard not as nice as real keyboard, but can do a lot just by touch and pen.
- I also sometimes use a tiny separate keyboard on plane, with Surface or SurfBook in tablet mode.
- BTW, the non-book Surface is, surprisingly, not so good on plane. Kickstand and touchpad on cover take up too much depth. Have tried touchpadless keyboards with a slot to hold Surface...
- I have long used "GUI Extenders" to increase my (in)efficiency with apps like Outlook email. E.g. keyboard and mouse shortcuts, and systems of menus and buttons, for commonly used commands. Sometimes joystick and game controller shortcuts.
- On MacBook I used apps such as Quadro, which allow an external iPad to provide touchscreen buttons for MacOS. I also wrote my own (Python AppleScript), using Duet Display to give me a touchscreen for my MacBook. It was a pain to have to deal with the external iPad - more to carry. Plus, although I liked Quadro, it was obviously consumer grade software, not power user friendly. No version control. No diff. Etc.
- I have written AutoHotKey gUIx SEBP (Graphical User Interface eXtender, Self-Editing Button Pad). Does most of what I used Quadro for, plus is real software that I can manage. And the touchscreen is always present.
- Right now, I am working while walking on my treadmill desk, with my SurfBook in outward facing mode (clamshell, screen reversed) on a tray above my keyboard, with 3 external monitors.
- I also use my ahk-guix-sebp on the Surfbook by itself. I split the screen, with Outlook occupying 80% of the width to the left, and my touch buttonpad on the right few inches.
- Did I mention that my MacBook could only handle two external monitors? While my SurfBook can handle 3 external monitors, just like as well as the Thinkpad touch that I used before the MacBook. (30" 2560x1600 mini-DP, with 2 1200x1920 24" on either side using USB display adapters; + SurfBook LCD 3000x2000 between keyboard and 30")
- This was a surprise - I would have expected Apple to be better at multi-monitor support.
And now, the rest of the review story
+ A few days later: spent much of the day sysadminning my daughter's non-book Surface Pro 3. Drove home how it is nice to adjust the screen angle on the SurfBook.
Tablet Battery is LowPlease charge the battery now and try detaching later.
(which I would clip and insert, except Google Blogger won't let me - I think because of system font size)
- But then, I have to carry my backpack around. :-(
- I prefer fingerprint, like on the old Surface Pro 4 cover, or on my iPhone and newer Macs.
- But all biometrics are problematic, security risks. Fingerprints can be lifted. Face recognition can be faked out by photos or masks.
- I want fingerprint as an easy way of keeping myself logged on - e.g. set a short timeout to locking the screen, that can be unlocked with a fingerprint. But I want to be required to enter a longer password at least once a day, or every few hours.
- Face recognition could be used same way, even less intrusively than fingerprint. But the face recognition camera can be used to spy on you. Not just a privacy risk - it can probably see enough muscle movement to infer your password.
- Similarly, microphones are also a security risk. They can also infer keystrokes, e.g. passwords.
- I started off disabling both cameras and microphones. I disable Cortana voice recognition.
- But I have grown to like some MacOS "say" commands, integrated in my shell. Mainly, to alert me when a long running shell command has finished.
- Unfortunately, SurfBook BIOS cannot enable speaker output and disable microphone input. (I know, any speaker can also be used as a microphone. But I would still like separate disables. And HW that did not allow input from speaker.)
Irony: I have one of the earliest patents on the webcam, but I would prefer my computer not to have one. I'll go further: laptops and tablets should not have cameras and microphones: leave that to the phone. Phones should have Faraday cage cases that block sound, light, and EM.
'via Blog this'