The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Nvidia, in the past of other companies such as Iagination Technologies, MIPS, Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

See http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcxddbtr_23cg5thdfj for photo credits.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

MS Surface Book Notes

I am switching from my old Apple MacBook Retina Pro 15" to a new Microsoft Surface Book 4.

Why Switch?

  1. I love touchscreens.  MS has them all over, Apple does not.
  2. I need to be able to use my portable computer on plane. The MacBook cannot be opened fully, at least not on US domestic flights in economy. For that matter, neither can the SurfBook.  But at least I can convert the SurfBook to tablet mode, and use that.  Also, SurfBook in tablet mode plus a separate mini keyboard allows me to type on plane.
  3. Two of the things I use most often on laptop are Windows apps: [A] FrameMaker, [B] Outlook email.
    • running these as guest apps on Parallels VM on top of MacOS sucks, Parallels sucks. VirtualBox and VMWare suck, in slightly different ways.
  4. Company Exchange server can be accessed by native MacOS via many apps, but all suck.
    • Even "Microsoft Outloook for MacOS"sucks compared to "Microsoft Outlook for Windows".   e.g. less capable search, less capable conversation mode
    • I tried using MacOS mail apps for quick and dirty stuff, and full Outlook on Windows via Parallels when needed - but this sucks
    • I suspect - not 100% sure - that there are IMAP consistency issues
    • I know that email has been stick in VM guest for a week, beforce I noticed that VM guest was not connected to net, even though MacOS was.
    • Virtual machines are just another thing to have to administer.


The SurfBook hinge sucks.
  • I am worried it will break.
  • It prevents SurfBook folding as flat as possible.
  • I know that it does not open as far as I would like.
    • Stops circa 105°
    • While I often need it to open to circa 120°, to avoid glare.
    • Just learned that it has a first stop, and then you can push it a bit further, e.g. this post
    • See note above about worrying that the hinge will break.  The Reddit post that told me about the "hyper-extension" also has an item that says that 63% of Surface Book owners have broken their hinges.

Performance - feels slow

The SurfBook feels sluggish - at least doing web.stuff, like this blog or gmail, in the MS Edge browser.

Should not be: I have a high end SurfBook:
      Surface Book, 1TB / Intel Core i7-6600U @2.6GHz, 2.81GHz, 16GB DRAM, 1TB SSD

Compared to my old MacBook:
       Core i7, 2.8 GHz, 16GB 1600MHz DDR3, 1TB SSD

The MacBook definitely felt "perkier".

The SurfBook fan was on continuously for the first hour. Annoyingly loud.

Suboptimal Power Switch Position and Tent Mode

Here is how I place my SurfBook when at my treadmill desk:

  • Displays (several)
  • SurfBook
  • Keyboard tray, with trackball
It looks like I want the SurfBook between the displays and keyboard/trackball tray.

Tilted, so that I can use it as touchscreen.

Possibly tent mode.

Unfortunately:  to unlock the SurfBook, need either
  • ctl-alt-del
  • power switch + down arrow
Unfortunately, the power switch + down arrow are on the top edge of the SurfBook display in clamshell/laptop mode - which is the edge that it stands on in tent mode.

I suppose that I will have to try other configs, e.g. clamshell mode with screen reversed. Which is almost the same as tent mode, although requiring more depth.