Surface Pro 4 looks great, but this Surface Pro 3 user ordered a Surface Book

I've been an avid Surface Pro user for a couple of years, but after seeing the Surface Book it's time for me to move from a tablet-focused to a laptop-focused device.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
The Surface Pro 3 has been my primary computer for a year, but after talking with ZDNet's Kevin Tofel this weekend on MobileTechRoundup show #357 and evaluating my usage needs I decided the Surface Book was the right computer for me.

I went to the online Microsoft Store and quickly discovered that you can no longer place a pre-order for any of the five available models. However, I was able to place an order for the Intel Core i5/128GB model at Amazon so I hope to have it in my hand before Halloween.

Why choose the Surface Book?

It's rare for a tech company to keep any new device secret in today's connected world, but somehow Microsoft was able to provide the full reveal of the Surface Book at its event last week. As an early adopter, I am excited by the potential of Microsoft's first laptop, especially given how impressed I am with the Surface Pro hardware.

Here are a few reasons I chose the Surface Book:

  • Laptop mode: As ZDNet's Kevin Tofel pointed out, Microsoft expects Surface Book owners to work in laptop mode about 80 percent of the time. That rings true with me and around the house or hotel room, laptop mode is a bit compromised with the Surface Pro 3.
  • Still a tablet: When the display is removed, Microsoft refers to the new Surface Book as being in 'clipboard' mode with about four hours of battery life. I primarily write on my display when in meetings or sitting around the living room watching TV. Thus, it seems the Surface Book will fit into my use cases perfectly.
  • Bigger display: I use a two screen setup at the office and at home so when I am out and about with my Surface Pro 3, I do feel a bit cramped at times. The 13.5 inch 3000x2000 pixels resolution display of the Surface Book should help me be more productive.
  • Cool hinge: Microsoft perfected the fully adjustable hinge on the Surface Pro 3 and I'm a sucker for cool engineering design. The new hinge looks slick and I can't wait to try it out. The Muscle Wire tech to hold the display in place is also very interesting.
  • New Surface Pen: I'm pleased to see Microsoft continue to improve the inking experience too and the new tip options, updated pen design, and 1024 levels of pressure should make the stylus experience a lot better.
  • Big trackpad: Microsoft significantly improved the trackpad on last year's Surface Type Cover and I can't wait to try the much larger trackpad on the Surface Book.

There are a couple things I am concerned about that I will need to determine in the first couple weeks after the Surface Book arrives. These concerns include:

  • Will it be too heavy and bulky for my daily commute and traveling routine?
  • How long will the display last in tablet mode? Can I get through a few-hours meeting with OneNote?
  • Is the lowest spec model I purchased adequate for my needs?
  • Will there be issues with the Muscle Wire mechansim over time?

Why not upgrade to the Surface 4?

The Surface Pro 4 is a solid upgrade to the Surface Pro 3 and if I sold my Surface Pro 3 it wouldn't end up being that much money out of my pocket to upgrade. However, there are not that many differences from my Surface Pro 3 to justify any additional funds out of my pocket for this move.

Given that I can use the new docking station with my Surface Pro 3 or even decide to pick up the new Surface Pro Type Cover there is even less reason for a Pro 3 to Pro 4 upgrade. I haven't run across any limitation with the Surface Pro 3 to drive me to the Pro 4.

Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book

Why not buy another Windows computer or a MacBook?

I understand that there are competing Windows laptops, most priced lower than the Surface Book. I use a Dell ultrabook for my engineering work at the office, but was never that excited about using a computer until I bought my first Surface Pro. Microsoft makes an amazing product with the Surface Pro and I'm willing to pay a bit of premium for an innovative computer that I want to pick up and use.

Dell's XPS line is great, HP's Spectre 360 is well made, and there are some excellent alternatives to the Surface Book. However, like Google's Nexus program, I want to see how Windows works on hardware that Microsoft feels best represents its intended purpose for Windows.

I used to own Apple laptops, but haven't had one around for several years. My daughters use MacBooks at college and I seriously considered a new MacBook Pro. However, after using the Surface Pro 3, I do find utility in having a tablet where I can easily handwrite notes so I am looking for a 2-in-1 device to meet my needs.

Why not just stick with the Surface 3?

This is a great question and honestly if I wasn't a tech writer here at ZDNet, I would probably stick with my Surface Pro 3. The original one I have pictured in my one year article was replaced last month after I noticed a display failure along the left side of the screen. Microsoft sent me a new replacement unit because it was still under warranty so this new one is in perfect condition.

It is possible I may end up returning the Surface Book and sticking with the Surface Pro 3. While I don't use the Pro 3 in tablet mode as much as I do in laptop and docked positions, the Surface Pro 3 still is an extremely compact and lightweight full Windows PC that travels well. I haven't had a single complaint in regards to performance, just with the wonky Windows 10 Mail app that is very unstable.

5 Windows 10 hybrids that rival the Microsoft Surface Book

Stay tuned for further coverage of my experiences using the Surface Book. If I keep it, then my Surface Pro 3 will be up on Swappa in November to help offset some of the cost of the new Surface Book.

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